Mechanical Causes of Back Pain

"Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigor. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow's hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life." ~Charles Dickens

As you age. If your back pain is though to be caused by one or more mechanical disorders of the lower spine, it means some type of degenerative changes to the structures associated with the spine itself have begun and that your symptoms may be aggravated or relieved by the way you move body. Disclaimer! Don't get too scared when you hear the words degenerative or degeneration, countless people live comfortable lives despite degenerative conditions in their spine/back. That being said, lets continue. Any pain can be classified as mechanical if certain postures of physical movements make you feel better, the stopping of certain activities makes you feel worse. Though the most common mechanical causes of back pain involve degenerative changes to the intervertebral discs of your back, there are many other causes that can impair your ability to live your life comfortably and happily. We will discuss the most common ones here.



Degenerative disc disease: The overall structure of the discs are interesting for their ability to bulge outwards under the spinal bones when compressed, but still maintaining enough strength to resist tearing. The discs consists of an outer annulus fibrosus, consisting of a tough fibrous tissue and fibrocartilage, and an inner pulopsus, consisting of a gooey thick jelly composed of substances including collagen, chondroitin sulfate, and proteoglycans, and hyaluronic long chains (these are the ingredients of many of the supplements being promoted for joint pain relief). As a whole unit, the inner gel mesh material gives the disc the ability to change its form to take on compression of the spine, but the outer layer is tough enough to keep the overall integrity of the structure intact. The discs are tough and stay healthy and fully hydrated when we are young and in out prime, but our prime cannot last forever. As we get older, the discs that cushion the moving vertebrae love their ability to remain fully inflated (fully hydrated) they make weaken, lose their size vertically, and they may sustain tears to their outer wall (annulus fibrosus).

Sprains: Sprains refer to when the ligaments of the back become strained or torn, usually as a result of injury. Since the ligaments of the back are very strong, it usually takes a significant injury to cause damage to these structures, though years or poor postural techniques can affect the structural integrity of the ligaments of the back. If the ligaments of the back do become torn because of an accident or injury, the result can be pain. The resulting back pain from a strain can be mild to moderate to severe, and localized to one section of the back or more generalized to larger areas of the back and even throughout the torso or radiating to the arms and legs.

Other mechanical causes of back pain include muscle tension, facet syndrome, coccydynia, and bad posture (poor posture).