What are the spinal problems that cause back pain?

Dr. Arya Nick Shamie, MD

Spinal problems that cause back pain include infections and tumors, but in general the problems commonly seen are due to wear and tear in the spine or a disc herniation.

The vertebrae can be thought of as a three-legged stool. The front leg is the disc, and there are also two legs in the back. These are called the facet joints. There is one on each side. With age, the spine eventually degenerates and these discs shrink down. These joints also see more force, and they can get arthritic and start getting larger, putting pressure on the nerves that are exiting in this area. The vertebra are sitting on top of each other with the discs and the facet joints in the back. These joints are present throughout the spine, and as the discs degenerate, the hole the nerve comes out of gets smaller, the disc can bulge out causing pressure on the nerves. There can also be fractures in the bone, called spondylolysis, where the spine can then be unstable and slide forward. 

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Spinal problems that can cause back pain include:

  • Herniated disc: In between our vertebrae, small sponge-like pads act as cushions to absorb everyday shocks to our spinal column. Aging and injury can cause those discs to rupture or bulge, putting pressure on the nerves in our spine and causing significant pain.
  • Sciatic pain: Felt in the sciatic nerve, which runs down your leg, caused by pressure from a herniated disc.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis often affects the lower back and can cause a painful narrowing of the spinal canal called spinal stenosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.