What Causes Neck and Back Pain?

There is never a clear-cut answer to what causes neck and back pain. It can be caused by different factors, which also depend on the patient’s age, lifestyle, and overall health. Degenerative disorders in the spinal column tend to affect people as they age, and these often occur as a natural part of the aging process rather than the patient doing anything to cause them. Although these disorders are not often self-inflicted, they can become worse if left untreated, or if the patient places undue strain on the spine. Athletic activity, posture, stress, and trauma can cause neck and back pain.

Pain is usually more common in the neck and back because these two areas were designed for mobility. The cervical (neck) vertebrae and lumbar (lower back) vertebrae are the most susceptible to herniated or slipped disks. The thoracic spine, which is the middle back behind the chest, is not as mobile and therefore not as prone to injury.

Aside from aging, other day-to-day activities can cause back pain, such as overexertion while exercising, poor posture, injury, and stress. Athletes should do proper stretches to prevent sports injuries; all muscle groups, including the neck, back, and core should be stretched before and after each workout. For those who are relatively new to working out, a common cause of neck strain is doing exercises with improper form, such as push-ups or sit-ups. Anyone who suffers neck and back pain from exercising should consult with a certified fitness trainer.

Improper posture is another cause of neck and back pain; it can usually be corrected through ergonomic seating solutions and good mattresses. Because about 1/3 of the day is spent sleeping, it is important to find a comfortable position in which to rest. There are many orthopedic pillows and mattresses on the market specifically geared toward those who suffer from chronic neck and back pain. The stress of neck pain along with other stresses in general can further tighten up the muscles, so it is important for back pain sufferers to look into these home remedies. Also, since neck and back pain are often associated with stress, those who suffer from high stress levels should seek out proper coping mechanisms, or anti-anxiety medications, if the situation warrants this type of treatment.

Another culprit of neck and back pain is trauma, such as whiplash; this can occur in car accidents, especially if a car is rear-ended. The air bags do not necessarily need to deploy to have a significant impact on the neck. The same goes for any injury in which someone’s neck undergoes sudden impact. Anyone involved in such an accident should be checked as soon as possible, even if they feel fine. If left untreated, neck and back pain can persist for years instead of healing within a couple of weeks or months.

Back and neck pain are often considered matters of inconvenience, but persistent pain should always be examined by a doctor. Although preventive measures might not entirely cure a patient’s back and neck problems, they can help the patient save thousands in medical costs in the long run by helping to avoid invasive procedures like cortisone injections and surgery.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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