Back pain can create not only debilitating physical discomfort, but also challenge your overall health, emotional well-being, and daily interactions. Ranging from dull and consistent aches to persistent burning sensations, or sharp and sudden jolts in specific joints — it can reside in your upper, middle or lower back, or even travel to your legs. This pain can require frequent visits to the doctor’s office, make you miss a work shift, or interfere with social and family gatherings.

Back pain is also the leading cause of disability worldwide. But its various problems may be avoided or relieved if you know the common causes.

Causes of Back Pain

Accidents, lifestyle choices, and other health conditions can all influence your back pain. Sometimes the causes even interplay with one another.


Muscles, tendons or ligaments can be injured accidentally during physical activity. Lifting something heavy, or even going through simple, sudden motions — like coughing, sneezing, or bending over — can strain your back. A fall or car crash may also cause fractures in the spine or muscle tears that result in persistent back pain.

Health and Lifestyle

Your age, or health and lifestyle can also play a part in your back pain. Because spinal disks weaken over time, people over 30 may experience more back pain and stiffness. Excess body weight also puts strain on disks and joints, as do weak abdominal muscles.

Health Conditions

Underlying health conditions and chronic diseases may also contribute to back pain. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative disease that causes pain due to the swelling and deformity of joints and can cause pain in your spine as well as your hips, knees, and hands. Osteoporosis makes bones more fragile, and therefore more susceptible to fractures and subsequent pain. Diabetes may also have an impact on your pain, according to a 2019 study that shows 35 percent of sufferers are at higher risk of experiencing low back pain.

How is Back Pain Treated?

Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctors may prescribe medications, injections, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, diet and lifestyle changes, or surgical solutions. “Chronic back pain is most often treated with a stepped care approach,” the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke asserts, “moving from simple low-cost treatments to more aggressive approaches.” Close consultation with your doctor and pain specialist — as well as a clear diagnosis — will help you narrow down the best result.

How is Back Pain Diagnosed?

Some doctors may be able to diagnose back pain simply by examining the site of your pain, and asking exploratory questions. But if the source is difficult to detect from these methods, further testing may be required, including blood tests, bone scans, X-Rays, MRI’s, or CT scans.

Cardinal Points Imaging understands that identifying the cause of your back pain will help your doctor treat it more effectively. Our imaging services are performed by qualified and licensed technologists, dedicated to your comfort while providing accurate and thorough results. To learn more about our services or to request an appointment, visit our website, or call us at (919) 877-5400.