Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions, or diseases, most often an injury to the muscles or tendons of the back. Low back pain that results from illness or structural problems in the spine cannot be prevented. However, you can avoid injuries that cause back pain. The main symptom of back pain is pain or pain anywhere in the back and sometimes down to the buttocks and legs.
Spinal arthritis: Slow degeneration of the joints in the spine is the most common cause of low back pain. We all experience wear and tear as we age, and it's normal for our lower back to start behaving badly as you age. As cartilage breaks down between the joints of the spine, surrounding tissues can become inflamed. Inflammation and thinning of the cartilage increases friction in the joints, which can cause lower back pain.
A serious fall or car accident can result in a lower back injury. But you can also carry a laundry basket up the stairs. Some back injuries can be sudden and traumatic, and others occur slowly over time. You may think that athletes and active people are the most injured because of their active lifestyles.
You're just as likely to twist your back as you bend down to pick up a sock from under the bed. It's everyday tasks, such as carrying a child, that can cause back injuries if done incorrectly. Low back pain can also be caused by diseases that affect nearby organs, such as kidney stones or endometriosis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Center 1 AMS Circle Bethesda, MD 20892-3675 301-495-4484 or 877-226-4267; 301-565-2966 (TTY).
In addition to NINDS, other NIH institutes, including the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, fund research on low back pain. The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological diseases. As people age, the likelihood of developing low back pain increases, due to factors such as previous occupation and degenerative disc disease. Because the spine is so complex, back pain can be related to muscle strain, soft tissue disease, problems with the bones themselves, or conditions that affect nerve health.