Low back pain: what could it be?

“Come on Mrs. Theresa, why are you walking like that? You look much older than your age; please brace up, my friend is not this old! “Thanks Mrs. Johnson, your friend is still her young self, but for this nagging back pain”  

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons we go to the hospital, especially if you’re 50 and over. While low back pain could simply be a result of long hours of strenuous physical activity, it may also spell some other problems.  


 Here are some common causes of low back pain:  


Talking about obvious causes of low back pain, a common cause are injuries resulting from falls, car accidents, and sports-related track and field injuries. This may be a result of as simple as muscle strains or as severe as fractures to your back sustained during the accident. If you develop back pain after an injury or a fall, it’s best to check with your doctor as soon as possible.   

Herniated disk  

A disk is a plastic-like material that lies between the small bones of your spine (or backbone). It stays in position and acts like a cushion between the bones. Sometimes, a disk may slip out of position, compressing the nerves and other structures in your spine. This may happen as a result of heavy lifting or prolonged sitting in the wrong posture. You think you are getting there until you hear a snap stopping you in the process. You likely just injured your disc and need urgent medical attention.  

Age-related changes  

You don’t want to hear this, but it’s true that you’re getting older, and this comes with many pleasant but a few unpleasant changes, including the natural wear and tear—doctors call them degenerative changes in your backbone. After the age of 50, your joints and bones begin to show these signs of wear and tear, one of which is pain. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise helps to lower your risk and the severity of these problems.   


Arthritis is one of the commonest causes of low back pain. Arthritis means your joints and bones are getting inflamed, either due to advanced age or injuries; when this happens, it causes pain, stiffness, and limitation to your range of movement. Arthritis usually involves several joints and bones, including your backbone  



You could define osteoporosis as porous bone and you’ll be right! Osteoporosis means that your bone lacks the required amount of minerals it needs; in turn, it gets brittle, resulting in pains in your bones and joints, including your back. Osteoporosis often results from hormonal changes, calcium deficiency, or vitamin D deficiency. Again, only qualified medical personnel could tell the difference, so a quick check would do no harm.  


Sciatica affects your back, hip and outer side of your leg. Sciatica occurs when your disks wear away or push out of position, compressing nerves that exit the spinal cord through the spaces between the bones of your back. The ensuing pain may radiate to your thigh and leg subsequently.   


Yes, low back pain may be caused by cancer; sometimes, it may even be the first symptom of an aggressive cancer. Men over the age of 50 are at risk of prostate cancer, which often presents with low back pain. Generally, cancers that spread to or affect your backbone will present with back pain.  


Take-home message  

There are many causes of lower back pain—some slow age-related and others from a sudden injury or snap in your backbone. So, when you have low back pain that does not resolve in a few days, see your doctor as soon as possible.  

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