Your Back Hurts? Is it Muscle Strain or Worse?

Back pain. Is it from muscle spasms, muscle tension, maybe a damaged disc? Several structural problems can result in back discomfort. Don't ignore it since as you get older, it can result in limited mobility and disability.

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Your Back Hurts? Is it Muscle Strain or Worse?
6 Min Read March 20th, 2021

Backaches and soreness are common ailments experienced by a wide range of age groups. It could be due to your poor physical condition since your back's constant stress can cause very painful muscle spasms. Sometimes the pain is caused by a bulging or ruptured disc. The pain can also be due to Arthritis or Osteoporosis.

According to Georgetown University, about 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. Some 16 million adults — 8 percent of all adults — experience persistent or chronic back pain and are limited in performing their everyday activities. Back pain is the sixth most costly condition in the United States.

Have you ever caught yourself frequently doing awkward stretches to get that kink out of your back? Or experimented with various muscle relaxers to cope with your back pain? Nearly everyone has experienced back pain at some point in their life. If you're currently struggling with back pain, you may be wondering why. Read on to discover the most common causes of back pain and get a better idea of your best recovery course.

Pulled Muscle or Tendon

Excessive or sudden movements can result in a pulled muscle or tendon. Sleeping in an awkward position can also cause discomfort in your back muscles and tendons. If your back pain presents itself through tightness and spasms, it is likely a case of strained muscles or tendons.

You may require gentle recovery. One of the benefits of physical therapy for back pain is that personalized exercises and stretches can help restore your back's mobility while being mindful of the spasms or soreness you may be feeling.


Inflammation occurs as a natural immune response to injury or disease. Usually, inflammation feels like a heated kind of pain and soreness. To combat inflammation, most folks utilize cooling packs and rest. If the discomfort persists and is left untreated, it can lead to chronic pain.


Arthritis is a form of chronic inflammation that impacts the joints—including those in your back. Stiffness and swelling occur in those with arthritis, which can be treated with thermal packs and rest.

Some arthritic individuals will utilize equipment such as a walking cane to take the pressure off the painful joints. Physical therapists can also assist people suffering from arthritis with managing the discomfort brought on by the condition.

Injured Herniated and Ruptured Discs

Injured herniated and ruptured discs are some of the most common causes of back pain in older age groups. Discs become more susceptible to damage as you age.

Discs are small cushions of tissue that rest between your spine's vertebrae. When discs move out of place, bulge, or experience harsh impact, it can be an incredibly painful and even debilitating injury. While rest and thermal packs can help some people with ruptured discs, you will need surgery in more serious cases.


The most common cause of osteoporosis pain is from a spinal compression fracture. Your bones are fragile when you have osteoporosis. You will have pain, mobility problems, especially with twisting and bending your body. Some people will need help with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. 

Some people will have a "dowager's hump," which is from a curved spine from a condition called kyphosis. 

There are several other types of health problems that could be causing your back pain which is another reason to be sure to see a doctor about your discomfort. These include:

Cancer of the Spine

A cancerous tumor in your spine may press against a nerve, resulting in back pain.

Cauda equina syndrome

The cauda equine is a bundle of spinal nerve roots that arise from the lower end of the spinal cord. It appears as a dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks. You could also experience numbness in the buttocks, genitalia, and thighs. 


You can have an infection in your spine. You will experience fever and a warm and tender area in the back. Other infections can result in back pain. These infections include bladder or kidney infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Spinal Stenosis 

You will have lower back issues because of the canal through which your spinal cord passes narrows because of disc degeneration. Physical therapy and surgery can relieve or reduce the pain.


This condition, and the related pain, occurs when one of your vertebrae (the bones of your spine) slips out of place onto the vertebra below it. 

Nonsurgical treatment often helps, but surgery is always an option.

Shingles and sleep problems can also cause back pain. Women tend to have more lower back problems than men. You should seek medical attention when the pain is severe.

Don’t Ignore the Pain – See the Doctor

However, if your pain does not improve with rest, do not delay seeing the doctor. If you are experiencing numbness in your legs, weakness, fever, or unexplained weight loss, be sure to see your doctor.

If you have pain following a fall or injury, be sure to seek medical attention right away. When you are over aged 70, you have an increased risk for infection, tumors, and abdominal causes of your back pain. Older people also have a higher risk of falls and that also requires a doctor’s visit.

Long lasting problems can happen if you delay medical attention.

Aging and Your Back

As you get older, many people will have age-related back pain. Your spine is getting older with the rest of your body. Activity is also the best prevention. The more active you are, the better your back and the rest of your body will be. Plus, when do you have back issues. Being active and staying active will give you the ability to recover quicker. 

We are living longer than ever before, and we will experience many changes in our health, body, and mind. With these changes we often need help with daily activities or even supervision due to cognitive decline.

If you want to avoid placing the future responsibility of caregiving on your family, often your daughter or daughter-in-law, you need a plan - before you get older. 

Aging happens. Preparing for the costs of caregiving and the burdens long-term health care places on our families are essential to an overall retirement plan. Long-Term Care Insurance will ensure you get a choice of quality care and give your family the time to be family. The time to start planning is in your 40s or 50s before health issues, like back problems, make it more difficult or impossible to plan. 

Learn more by using the resources on LTC NEWS. Find a qualified specialist to help you navigate the many options by clicking here.

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About the Author

Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.

LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee

Mallory Knee

Contributor since September 25th, 2020

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