Common Back Pain Causes You May Be Overlooking

a woman with back pain

Back pain is a health issue many people know all too well. Studies have shown that an estimated 60-80% of all adults will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. So what can cause back pain in so many?

The truth is there are many common causes of back pain. Knowing where your back pain stems from is crucial to learning to alleviate it. Some, such as spinal injuries, are more obvious than others. Today, we’re taking a look at common back pain causes you may be overlooking. 

First, What Causes Back Pain In General?

While the back is a complex structure, the causes of back pain can often be traced back to a few common factors. These factors include muscle strain, poor posture, injury, and degenerative conditions of the spine. 

Understanding what causes back pain in general serves as a foundation for exploring the unique factors contributing to upper and lower back pain, each of which comes with its own set of challenges and treatment strategies. 

Let's delve into these specific types of back pain to gain a more comprehensive understanding and discover effective ways to alleviate discomfort and improve overall spinal health.

5 Common Causes of Back Pain

First up, let’s discuss the most common back pain causes since learning how to alleviate back pain effectively starts by narrowing down what can actually cause back pain in the first place! 

You can’t treat the symptoms properly without knowing the source, can you? Take a look and learn how one of these 5 common causes of back pain you’ve been experiencing might be something you hadn’t considered:

  • Inflammation lingering along the back
  • Spinal arthritis causing chronic back stiffness and pain
  • Stress leading to back pain and body aches
  • Muscle strain or pulled tendons
  • Lifestyle triggers such as carrying extra weight, wearing high heels, or smoking

Spinal Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response from your immune system as part of the healing process but can also be a common cause of back pain, as well. It could be a result of lifting a heavy object incorrectly, ignoring a post-workout recovery routine after physical activity, or even from the foods you eat. So then how do you treat spinal inflammation?

One easy way to help reduce inflammation in the body is with anti-inflammatory food. Believe it or not, what we eat can have a profound impact on our bodies, including causing swelling and inflammation. Eating more nuts or fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can cut back inflammation throughout your body can help eliminate this common cause of back pain.

Ice/heat combinations, increasing blood circulation, and reducing pressure on the spine are also effective ways to reduce inflammation. Perhaps the most important health benefits of zero gravity chairs to those suffering from back pain is their ability to combine all three of these methods at once while relaxing at home! 

Applying ice to an inflamed area for a short period of time followed using the heat therapy feature on a luxury zero gravity chair helps reduce inflammation and alleviate back pain by relaxing the muscles. By the nature of their design, zero gravity chairs also recline into a position that evenly distributes weight along the body. 

This zero gravity position relieves pressure along the spine and facilitates spinal decompression, increases blood circulation throughout the body, and allows the tissues to rehydrate. The increased blood circulation, while reducing inflammation itself, also helps the spine heal faster, reducing the time inflammation may be present, as well. 

Spinal Arthritis Causing Back Pain and Stiffness

Spinal arthritis is another common cause of back pain you may be overlooking. What you may think is simply a pulled muscle or stiff back may actually be symptoms of arthritis starting to show. While there is no cure for arthritis and its exact causes are largely unknown (aside from osteoporosis), regular wear and tear are considered top contributing factors to the disease.

Treating spinal arthritis is about chronic back pain management, reducing inflammation that often occurs, and improving flexibility. If you’re already using a zero gravity chair to treat spinal inflammation, the zero gravity chair will help alleviate back pain from arthritis in similar ways: tissue rehydration, spinal decompression, and reducing pressure on the joints between the pelvis and back.

Treating arthritis often includes finding ways to increase flexibility and mobility. There are a number of activities to combine with your zero gravity chair for back pain caused by arthritis. Simple exercises that strengthen the spine and core muscles are greatly beneficial. Additionally, zero gravity chairs with massage and heat therapy features can help improve your mobility and provide further back pain relief.

Back Pain Caused By Stress

It may surprise you to learn one of the common causes of back pain is stress! Don’t underestimate the ability of emotions to be a source of physical pain. When you’re stressed, your body naturally tenses up. This can lead to muscle tension and other long-term impacts of stress on your body. The power of stress over our bodies is a key reason learning to alleviate stress is vital to both mental and physical health. 

There have also been studies linking stress, depression, and anxiety manifesting in changes to your physical posture. Stress and depression can cause a subtle shift in your body where you stoop, slouch, or otherwise hunch over. This subconscious change can be a major cause of back pain!

Once more you’ll find zero gravity chairs as a great multifunctional resource. There are endless stress relieving exercises you can do while using a zero gravity chair for back pain such as meditating, listening to music or sound apps, or using it as part of a relaxing night time routine. If you’re looking for physical ways to help reduce stress, exercising releases endorphins, which are natural hormones that can elevate your mood!

Muscle Strain or Pulled Tendons

While you might be thinking how obvious it is that muscle strain or pulled tendons can be a common cause of back pain, what you may not recognize is all the easy ways to pull those muscles! Did you know that having too flat a pillow can cause you to pull neck muscles in your sleep? Those pulled neck muscles can further contribute to back pain as it radiates down your body. Consider your activities and how you may be inadvertently causing muscle strain affecting your back.

To treat muscle strain, heat therapy can help the body relax and heal. Massage is another effective treatment for pulled muscles. Where can you find all these in one place? You guessed it: a zero gravity chair! 

Back Pain From Lifestyle Triggers

When you’re looking into what can cause back pain, some of the common sources you may be overlooking are everyday lifestyle triggers. These can be even the smallest details like wearing high heels regularly! The way high heels cause you to stand forces your back to arch more than natural and shifts your weight balance in a way that can lead to back pain. 

Other lifestyle triggers for back pain include things like:

  • Carrying excess weight
  • Smoking
  • Slouching at your desk
  • Not engaging in physical activity

You can help relieve back pain caused by these sources by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Whether you’re at the office or working in your home office setup, taking regular breaks to move around as well as choosing an ergonomic chair are simple ways to help relieve back pain (or avoid it!). 

Quitting smoking and practicing healthy eating habits to lose excess weight can not only help back pain, but are also methods for improving lung function naturally and increasing heart health! Finding ways to stay active is also a way to keep your body loose and alleviate back pain caused by muscle tension or sedentary habits.

Now that we’ve explored the more general causes of back pain, let’s take a look at the causes specific to the lower back and upper back. There may be some overlap here, but it’s important to note that pain can be localized with different remedies needed.

Common Lower Back Pain Causes

Lower back pain can be particularly challenging to deal with, given its impact on daily activities. Several factors can contribute to this condition, and understanding the causes of lower back pain is essential for effective management:

  • Lumbar strain: Straining the muscles and ligaments in the lower back, often due to heavy lifting or sudden movements, is a common cause of lower back pain.
  • Herniated discs: When the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the lower spine become damaged or ruptured, they can press on nearby nerves, leading to intense pain.
  • Degenerative conditions: Conditions like osteoarthritis can cause the breakdown of cartilage in the spine's facet joints, resulting in pain and stiffness.
  • Sciatica: Sciatic nerve compression, usually caused by a herniated disc or bone spur, can radiate pain from the lower back down into the legs. This can make sciatica self care challenging.
  • Spinal stenosis: Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, causing lower back pain and leg discomfort, especially during activity.

Common Upper Back Pain Causes

Upper back pain can be just as debilitating as lower back pain. Understanding the causes of upper back pain is vital for both prevention and relief:

  • Poor Posture: In our modern sedentary lifestyle, slouching or hunching over a desk or computer for extended periods has become all too common. This poor posture can strain the muscles and ligaments in the upper back, leading to discomfort and stiffness. Making a conscious effort to maintain good posture and taking regular breaks to stretch can go a long way in preventing upper back pain.
  • Muscle imbalances: Imbalances in the muscles supporting the upper back can contribute to pain. For instance, if the chest muscles are stronger than the upper back muscles, it can lead to rounding of the shoulders and increased stress on the upper back. Engaging in exercises that strengthen the upper back, such as rows and pull-ups, can help correct these imbalances and reduce the risk of pain.
  • Herniated discs: While herniated discs are more commonly associated with lower back pain, they can occur in the upper back as well. When the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the upper spine become damaged or ruptured, they can press on nearby nerves, leading to intense pain. This condition may result from trauma or gradual wear and tear. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial to alleviate this type of upper back pain.
  • Overuse or repetitive strain: Activities that involve repetitive movements of the upper back, such as constant lifting, carrying heavy loads, or even prolonged periods of computer work, can lead to overuse injuries. These can cause pain and discomfort in the upper back muscles. Ergonomic adjustments, regular breaks, and proper lifting techniques are essential in preventing this type of pain.
  • Spinal misalignment: Misalignment of the vertebrae in the upper back, often due to poor posture, injury, or other underlying conditions, can result in upper back pain. Chiropractic care and physical therapy may be effective in realigning the spine and alleviating this type of discomfort.

Addressing the root cause, whether it's related to posture, muscle imbalances, or underlying spinal issues, can help you find relief and maintain a healthy upper back.

We hope our list of common causes of back pain you may be overlooking was useful for recognizing a few potential causes of back pain you hadn’t considered before. Learning what can cause back pain is a crucial part of learning how to treat it. Adjusting your sitting habits, learning to de-stress with a relaxing nighttime routine, or choosing a zero gravity chair with additional features like heat therapy and massage are all excellent ways for how to relieve back pain. Help your body heal and get back to living your life pain-free!

Bonus Tip: One of the most common back pain causes are bad sitting habits! Check out these 7 bad sitting habits that can affect your body long-term and see how small changes can make a huge difference.