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    Why Does My Lower Back Hurt?

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    Almost 30% of Americans have some sort of pain in the lower back, and it’s a top cause of disability worldwide. Age plays a role, but the causes can include injures, an inactive lifestyle, poor posture, illnesses, and obesity, among many other things.

    If you’re having pain, it’s important to figure out why.

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    Could it be my lifestyle?

    Your back is at the mercy of bad habits like:

    • Slouching at your desk
    • Lifting and pulling heavy objects with your back rather your legs
    • Being overweight
    • Not exercising enough
    • Smoking
    • Wearing high heels
    • Carrying an overloaded backpack

    All of these things can lead to lower back pain.

    Is it in my head?

    You may carry your stress in your back -- the muscles feel like they’re in knots. And the pain can feel much worse if you’re also depressed or anxious.

    Is it because of something I did?

    Falling down, getting into a car accident, or even overdoing it in that pick-up game over the weekend can cause problems you feel in your lower back, like:

    Spine/vertebral fractures: Your back may have a break in it if it gets hit hard or you fall from a great height.

    Sprains and strains: Lifting and twisting at the same time, or swinging a golf club, can pull or tear the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your back.

    Spasms: These are muscle contractions, and they hurt. They generally happen when you sprain or strain your lower back.

    Is it a mechanical problem?

    In many cases, the pain happens when parts of the back -- the spine, joints, tissues, muscles, and the discs that cushion the spinal bones (vertebrae) -- are out of sync. If your back isn’t feeling quite right, have your doctor check for:

    Herniated or slipped discs: The bones of your spine are cushioned by discs, often referred to as “shock absorbers.” When they wear down, the soft tissue between them begins to squeeze out. This is when you start to feel it -- especially if they rupture. It can happen if you’ve had a sudden injury, or because of simple wear and tear.

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