Though the cause of back pain is less likely to be due to an underlying disease, they may be a factor for certain people as a cause or by making the symptoms worse. Disease related causes of back pain may cause symptoms similar to those of mechanical causes, such as the pain getting worse through physical exertion or exercise. Many diseases affect the back, directly or indirectly. Arthritis is the most common disease related cause. Arthritis is actually a collection of diseases, with the common thread of joint pain as a symptom and inflammation of the joint as a cause. A person may suffer from arthritis for one of three reasons.
- Mechanical. Mechanical causes of back pain include degenerative changes to the structures of the spine, and supporting the spine, due to aging or overuse. Osteoarthritis and degenerative disk disease are the two most common mechanical causes of back pain.
- Immune system. For some people, their body's immune system becomes convinced that certain healthy tissues in their body are enemy cells. Because of this, the body's immune system goes into overdrive and begins to attack some of the body's healthy tissues, and the joints of the body are likely to be affected. The diseases included in this category of arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
- Metabolic/Nutritional. There may be a problem with the body to build and maintain bone and the tissues of the Joint. A person may lose bone density or volume of healthy cartilage because of poor nutrition, or because a person's bones fails to absorb certain minerals and vitamins as they get older (osteoporosis).
Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones of the body, due to a loss of bone density (loss of bone mass). Osteoporosis is usually the cause of shortened height of people as they get older, and for the hunched over posture that you see in older people. The cause of this bone density loss may be due to nutritional deficiencies, aging, inactivity, low calcium diet, or long-term use of glucocorticoid medications (corticosteroids). All the bones may be affected by osteoporosis, thought the weight bearing bones such as the pelvis and lumbar vertebra are particularly vulnerable. The weakened vertebrae can break - an injury called a compression fracture - and lose about half of their height. Patients may experience moderate or severe pain because of compression fractures. The initial symptoms causes by compression fractures may relieve on their own within weeks, or the pain may linger or get worse over time.
Treatment. It is never too late to start making healthy changes to your life and to start treating your osteoporosis, no matter how far the disease has progresses. That being said, the best treatment for any disease is prevention. A patient may actually be able to increase bone density as they get older is they stay active, eat the right things, and take the right medications/supplements. Medication treatments for osteoporosis include taking biphosphates, calcitonin, and Raloxifene. Patients, particularly women past menopause may be able to maintain their bone density levels through resistance exercises, aerobics, and swimming.