Four in five Americans are affected by backache at some point of time in their life. Backache can occur in several forms, including lower back pain, middle or upper back pain, and lower back pain with sciatica. Some of the common causes of backache include problems of muscles and nerves, arthritis and degenerative disc disease. Pain relieving medications can provide relief from backache in many cases.


Mechanical Causes: Inter-vertebral disc degeneration is the most common mechanical cause of backache. This condition means that the discs located between the spinal vertebrae are disintegrating with age. As the cushioning ability of these discs goes down, the back pain grows. Wear and tear of facet joints is another cause of backache. Facet joints are large joints with which the vertebrae are connected. Ruptured discs, muscle tension and spasms are other mechanical causes of backache.

Spinal Injury: Injuries to the spine such as a sprain or a fracture can cause temporary or chronic back pain. A sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments supporting the spine are torn. Osteoporosis can cause fractured vertebrae, and accident and falls are other causes of spinal injuries.

Diseases: Diseases or medical conditions such as scoliosis, which causes the spine to curve, spondylolisthesis, different forms of arthritis, and spinal stenosis are typical conditions that cause backache.

Other causes of backache may include kidney stones, kidney infections, pregnancy, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis.


Some medications are formulated to ease the pain, while some others induce sleep to make the patient comfortable. However, it may not always be a prudent idea to go for over the counter drugs because they are not meant for long term use. If the backache is recurring, it is important to consult a doctor.

Over the counter NSAIDs such as aspirin can help reduce pain and swelling temporarily. Over the counter acetaminophens such as Tylenol may also be used, but again they are not for long term use unless advised by a physician. Over the counter pain medications and sleep drugs may sometimes be combined for patients suffering from pain as well as disturbed sleep. These drugs include Advil PM and Tylenol PM.

Physiotherapy, yoga, and other mild exercises and natural therapies may also be used to relieve backache. However, such remedies or physiotherapies must be performed only under professional supervision to ensure that the problem is brought under control safely, and does not worsen.

Encino Medical