Conditions That May Accompany Back Pain

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Over 80 percent of people in the United States will experience back pain at some time in their lives, according to Harvard Medicine. Back pain is hard enough to manage on its own, but another problem is that it's often accompanied by other health conditions. Some of these conditions are triggered by the patient's back pain, and in some cases, these health conditions could actually be contributing to his or her pain.

Woman before weight loss surgery with nurse and family member.


The spine is designed to carry the body's weight and distribute it evenly when the body is at rest. Obesity is a risk factor for back pain. Men with increased body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratios are more likely to have back pain and potentially be disabled from the back pain, according to a study completed in 2016. Carrying extra weight forces the spine to take on this extra weight, and this may cause damage and pain.

X-ray of spine with scoliosis.


Scoliosis is diagnosed when curvature of the spine is 10 degrees or more, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Some people are born with scoliosis, while others develop scoliosis as adults. Children who have scoliosis do not typically experience back pain, while adults who have this condition often have back pain as their chief complaint.

Skeletal system torso


Osteoarthritis often affects the spine, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In the cervical or lumbar spine, it can cause pain in the neck or low back, respectively. Osteophytes, a type of bony "spur," can also form along the arthritic spine and irritate spinal nerves. This can lead to numbness, severe pain and tingling of the affected parts of the body.

Bood about Paget's disease.

Paget’s disease

In Paget’s disease, calcium in the bone spreads unevenly and although there are often no symptoms, some people experience back pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is usually discovered why an X-ray or bone scan is done for another reason.

X-ray of vertebrae.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a progressive arthritis that causes chronic inflammation of the spine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It causes stiffness, aching, and pain around the spine and pelvis. It is more common in males than in females and most people will develop the condition between the ages of 17 and 35.

Herniated disc illustration of a human spine.

Herniated disc

Herniated or ruptured discs can occur when the discs in between the vertebrae are compressed and bulge outward or rupture, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. When the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, you may experience mild or no pain. When it is pressing against a nerve, you may have pain, numbness, or weakness, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Senior man with bone loss talking to doctor about x-rays.


Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Compression fractures in the back are the most common type of fracture due to osteoporosis and occur in almost 700,000 people per year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This fracture may cause pain and disability for women over 50.

Stressed senior woman at home.


People with chronic back pain are more likely to have depression, according to a study completed in 2016. In this review of previous studies, researchers found that people who had both chronic back pain and depression had worse outcomes. Another study, completed in Japan, found that depression among people with back pain had lower productivity and used the healthcare system more often than people with back pain without depression.

Man with sciatica sitting up on bed.


The pain from sciatica usually begins in your lower back or hip and then radiates down your thigh and into your leg, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It most often occurs between the ages of 30 and 50 and the majority of people usually get better over time without surgery. Cortisone shots can temporarily relieve the pain and allow you to get back to your daily activities. Physical therapy and stretching exercises may help prevent it from reoccurring.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.