What are Common Causes of Constant Back Pain?

Article Details
  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Constant back pain can be an indicator of a minor everyday health problem or something much more serious. Some common causes of back pain are a herniated disc, degenerative joint disease, or trauma to the back. A type of cancer or infection can also be the cause of severe constant back pain, however. Some causes can be quickly fixed, while others can only be treated to relieve the symptoms.

A healthy spinal disc keeps the back flexible and acts as a shock absorber for the spine. Age or injury to the spine can cause damage to these discs, sometimes leading to a herniated disc. Most herniated discs affect the lower back, but it is not entirely unheard of to herniate a disc in the upper back. Besides pain, a person with a herniated disc may feel numbness or weakness in parts of the body, including the buttock or legs. While there is no cure for a herniated disc besides time, a doctor can recommend treating back pain through prescription medication.

Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis (OA), commonly affects the spine, causing joint pain, a burning sensation in the muscles, and stiffness. Non-specific pain back can be a symptom of OA, especially if the pain worsens throughout the day. This disease is related to age but not caused by it. In fact, the exact cause is not known, but investigators believe that overstressed joints are fundamental to all cases of degenerative joint disease.


Constant back pain can also be caused by trauma to that area. A car or bicycle accident, a sports injury, or any physically demanding activity can damage the back in some way. Steady, constant back pain coupled with difficulty standing straight and stiffness are symptoms of overused or injured muscles. In many cases, this type of back pain is ultimately caused by a sedentary lifestyle with too little exercise.

While constant back pain mostly affects older adults, children are not exempt. It is estimated that United States doctors treated more than 13,000 injuries related to overloaded backpacks in the year 2000. This type of back pain is due to strained muscles from carrying too many books every school day. To prevent this, children should be encouraged to carry only as much as they need, placing all other books in their lockers or desks.

Lastly, some cancers and infections, such as lung cancer or an upper urinary tract infection, are sometimes causes of constant back pain. Determining which cancer or infection can be difficult, as constant back pain alone is a symptom of many things. In all cases of back pain, seeing a health professional is the safe route.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?