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As people age, bone strength and muscle elasticity and tone tend to decrease. The discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. Pain can occur when someone lifts something too heavy or overstretches, causing a sprain, strain, or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in the back. If the spine becomes overly strained or compressed, a disc may rupture of bulge outward. This rupture may put pressure on one of the more than fifty (50) nerves rooted to the spinal cord that control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain. When these nerve roots become compressed or irritated, back pain results.
Low back pain may reflect nerve or muscle irritation or bone lesions. Most low back pain follows injury or trauma to the back, but pain may also be caused by degenerative conditions such as arthritis or disc disease, osteoporosis or other bone diseases, viral infections, irritation to joints and discs, or congenital abnormalities of the spine. Obesity, smoking, weight gain during pregnancy, stress, poor physical condition, posture in appropriate for the activity being performed, and poor sleeping position also may contribute to low back pain. Additionally, scar tissue crated when the injured back heals itself does not have the strength or flexibility of normal tissue.. Buildup of scar tissue from repeated injuries eventually weakens the back and can lead to more serious injury.
Occasionally, back pain may indicate a more serious medical problem. Pain accompanied by fever or loss of bowel or bladder control, pain when coughing, and progressive weakness in the legs may indicate a pinched nerve or other serious condition. People with diabetes may have severe back pain or pain radiating down the leg related to neuropathy.