What causes back pain?

Bolovi u leđima su jedan od najučestalijih zdravstvenih problema, procjenjuje se da 80% ljudi barem jednom u životu ima bolove u leđima, te predstavljaju čest razlog izostanka s posla.

Pain can be the result of injury, activity and/or some medical conditions. Back pain can affect people of any age, for a variety of reasons. As people age, the probability of lower back pain increases due to factors such as the person’s previous occupation, i.e. the nature of the work the person was engaged in and degenerative disc diseases.

What are the causes?

The spine is made up of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs and bones, which together support the body and enable us to move.

The segments of the spine are lined with cartilage-like pads called discs.

Problems with any of these components can lead to back pain.

Damage can, among other things, occur due to stress, health conditions or poor posture.

1. Strain

The causes of back pain are:

  • strained muscles or ligaments
  • muscle spasm
  • muscle tension
  • damaged discs
  • injuries, fractures or falls

Activities that can lead to strains or cramps include: lifting something improperly, lifting something too heavy, or making sudden and uncomfortable motion.

2. Health condition

Several structural problems can also result in back pain.

  • Ruptured discs: Each vertebra in the spine is lined with discs. If the disc ruptures, there will be increased pressure on the nerve, resulting in back pain.
  • Bulging discs: In much the same way as ruptured discs, a bulging disc can result in more pressure on the nerve.
  •  Sciatica: A sharp, stabbing pain through the buttock and down the back of the leg, caused by a bulging or herniated disc pressing on a nerve.
  •  Arthritis: Arthritis can cause joint problems in the hips, lower back and elsewhere
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine: If the spine curves in an unusual way, back pain can occur. An example is scoliosis, in which the spine bends to the side.
  • Osteoporosis: Bones, including the vertebrae of the spine, become brittle and porous, making compression fractures more likely.
  • Kidney problems: Kidney stones or kidney infection can cause back pain.

 3. Position and posture

Taking a very slouched sitting position while using a computer can result in increased back and shoulder problems over time.

Back pain can also be the result of some daily activities or poor posture.

Risk factors

The following factors are associated with a higher risk of developing back pain:

  • occupations
  • pregnancy
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • poor physical condition
  • old age
  • obesity and excess weight
  • smoking
  • strenuous physical exercises, especially if done incorrectly
  • genetic factors
  • medical conditions, such as arthritis and cancer

Pain in the lower part occurs more often in women than in men, likely due to hormonal factors. Stress, anxiety and mood disorders are also linked to back pain.


The main symptom of the condition is pain anywhere in the back, sometimes reaching all the way down to the buttocks and legs.

Some back issues can cause pain in other parts of the body, depending on the affected nerves.

When to see a doctor?

You should seek medical attention if you experience numbness or tingling, or if you have back pain:

  • that do not improve with rest
  • after an injury or fall
  • paired with numbness in the legs
  • paired with weakness
  • paired with a fever
  • paired with unexplained weight loss

How to know if the pain is chronic or acute?

  • Acute pain starts suddenly and lasts up to 6 weeks.
  • Chronic or long-term pain develops over a long period of time, lasts over 3 months and causes permanent problems.


Back pain usually resolves with rest and home remedies, but sometimes medical treatment is necessary.

Home treatments

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, usually nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, or ketoprofen, can relieve discomfort. Applying a warm or cold compress to the painful area can also reduce pain.

While resting from strenuous activity can help, but movement will relieve stiffness, reduce pain, and prevent muscle weakness.


If home treatments don’t relieve your back pain, your doctor may recommend prescription medications, physical therapy, or both.