Updated 27 June 2014

The possible causes of back pain

Backache can be caused by an accident or an injury to the spine, degenerative, metabolic or congenital disease, or it may be the result of developmental problems or a tumour.


Back ache can be caused by an accident or an injury to the spine. Or it can be caused by a degenerative disease, metabolic diseases or be congenital. It can be the result of developmental problems or a tumour. Use this list as a basis of the possible causes of back pain.


Possible causes  It can be one of these diseases
Degenerative (related to ageing) Discogenic disease; Spinal stenosis; Spondylitic disease; Facet joint hypertrophy
Traumatic (related to injury or an accident, including motorcycle accidents, diving accidents and rugby injuries) Vertebral fractures; Lumbar strains and sprains; Ligamentous injuries, musculoskeletal injuries
Inflammatory (usually a chronic type of inflammation) Arachnoiditis; Arthritis (e.g. Ankolysing Spondylitis)
Infective (this can be due to a bacterial of viral infection) Meningitis; Vertebral Osteomyelitis; Epidural Absess; Urinary Tract Infection; Intervertebral Discitis; Radiculopathy
Congenital (you are born with these) Spondylosis; Tethered cord syndromes
Developmental (becomes more apparent in adolescents)  Scoliosis; Sacral agenesis; Scheuermann's Kyphosis
Metabolic Osteoporosis; Paget's Disease; Diabetic Radiculopathy
Tumour It can either be a benign tumour or malignant. A malignant tumour can be primary or metastatic.

Read more:
Common sense practices to prevent backache
Tips for a healthy back if you spend long hours on your feet every day


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Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics. Read more here.

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