The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking up a pencil from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots, or bone loss.
Poor posture can also cause back pain. Your ears should be over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hip joints, and your hips over your ankles. Leaning your head forward or slumping your shoulders while at the computer or looking at your phone contribute to muscle spasms and can put pressure on your nerves, Dr. Mikhael says. Make a conscious effort to maintain good posture during the day to ease or help prevent back pain.
Back pain related to a spinal fracture should also make your doctor think of lung cancer. With metastatic lung cancer, bone metastases occur in around 40 percent of people. The most common sites of spread are the spine (occurring in at least 50 percent) and large bones of the legs. Cancer which as invaded the vertebrae results in brittleness and weakness of the bone and compression fractures may commonly occur. Fractures that occur in a bone weakened by cancer are referred to as pathologic fractures. A sign that suggests that a compression fracture in the spine is related to lung cancer (instead of osteoporosis) is a fracture which occurs with only minimal trauma.
The gallbladder is situated near the liver and can, if afflicted, trigger pain on the right side of the abdomen. There are many gallbladder issues that might cause discomfort but the most common is gallstones, which can get stuck along the passageway, causing swelling and pain and making it impossible for the gallbladder to perform its function properly.
Steph, based on reading your post, there is a good bet that Trigger Points are playing a roll in what you feel, as TPs can come and go, and then when they come back be more painful, they can give you many different sensations, but the fact that you have such pain in one area, that says a lot and I would suggest that you do some research on Trigger Point, we have may article and videos on our site
There is controversy and scientific uncertainty about trigger points. It’s undeniable that mammals suffer from sensitive spots in our soft tissues … but their nature remains unclear, and the “tiny cramp” theory could be wrong. The tiny cramp theory is formally known as the “expanded integrated hypothesis,” and it has been prominently criticized by Quintner et al (and not many others). However, it’s the mostly widely accepted explanation for now.
It’s no surprise that pregnancy can cause a variety of back pain in women. Pregnancy can cause a great deal of stress on your back, leading to extreme pain, aching, and soreness. This pain usually increases as your pregnancy progresses because your baby is growing in size. However, don’t worry too much, there’s lots of steps and precautions you can take to prevent too much left and right side back pain during pregnancy. Check out our blog article here dedicated to remedies for pregnancy back pain!
A herniated disc. This occurs when one of the small, spongy discs that cushion your spine bulges or breaks open and presses on the nerves in the spine. A herniated disc may be caused by normal wear and tear of the disc as you age. Or it may be brought on by activities that you do over and over again that cause a lot of vibration or motion (such as using a jackhammer) or by a sudden heavy strain or increased force to your back. In most cases, a herniated disc occurs in the lower back or neck. It can occur in the upper or middle back, but this is rare. See a picture of a herniated disc.
The vast majority of low back pain is mechanical in nature. In many cases, low back pain is associated with spondylosis, a term that refers to the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:
Eleven updates have been logged for this article since publication (2009). All PainScience.com updates are logged to show a long term commitment to quality, accuracy, and currency. more When’s the last time you read a blog post and found a list of many changes made to that page since publication? Like good footnotes, this sets PainScience.com apart from other health websites and blogs. Although footnotes are more useful, the update logs are important. They are “fine print,” but more meaningful than most of the comments that most Internet pages waste pixels on. 

Electrodiagnostic studies are used to help confirm the presence of nerve compression in the spine. An electrodiagnostic study consists of two tests. One is an electrical test, which is designed to study nerve conduction. In this test the nerve is given an electrical stimulation, and the speed of the impulse is measured. The other test is a needle test called an electromyogram, or EMG. The purpose of this test is to study the muscles for primary disease or for the effect of nerve compression on the muscle. The compression is especially seen in herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
About 50% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy.[58] Some studies have suggested women who have experienced back pain before pregnancy are at a higher risk of having back pain during pregnancy.[59] It may be severe enough to cause significant pain and disability in up to a third of pregnant women.[60][61] Back pain typically begins at around 18 weeks gestation, and peaks between 24 and 36 weeks gestation.[61] Approximately 16% of women who experienced back pain during pregnancy report continued back pain years after pregnancy, indicating those with significant back pain are at greater risk of back pain following pregnancy.[60][61]
Anyone who’s had a kidney stone knows they’re quite agonizing—and they may cause upper back pain, says Dr. Ghannad. It’s unlikely that this is the only symptom you’ll notice though. You may also feel severe pain in your side and back below your ribs, the Mayo Clinic notes. Discomfort while peeing or red- or brown-hued urine may be other clues. The best advice? “If pain is severe and persistent, it’s a good idea to be evaluated by a physician,” says Ghannad.
However, if a back pain doesn't make sense to you, is getting worse, and doesn't respond to typical treatments, don't endure it. This is especially true if you are having pain in your mid or upper back. See a doctor and discuss any other symptoms you may be experiencing. If it is cancer, early diagnosis allows for early treatment, increasing your likelihood of a complete cure.
Writers go on and on about how grateful they are for the support they had while writing one measly book, but this website is a much bigger project. PainScience.com was originally created in my so-called “spare time” with a lot of assistance from family and friends. Thanks to my wife for countless indulgences large and small; to my parents for (possibly blind) faith in me, and much copyediting; and to friends and technical mentors Mike, Dirk, Aaron, and Erin for endless useful chats, repeatedly saving my ass, and actually building many of the nifty features of this website.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.
A complete medical history and physical exam can usually identify any serious conditions that may be causing the pain. During the exam, a health care provider will ask about the onset, site, and severity of the pain; duration of symptoms and any limitations in movement; and history of previous episodes or any health conditions that might be related to the pain. Along with a thorough back examination, neurologic tests are conducted to determine the cause of pain and appropriate treatment. The cause of chronic lower back pain is often difficult to determine even after a thorough examination.
The treatment of lumbar strain consists of resting the back (to avoid reinjury), medications to relieve pain and muscle spasm, local heat applications, massage, and eventual (after the acute episode resolves) reconditioning exercises to strengthen the low back and abdominal muscles. Initial treatment at home might include heat application, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and avoiding reinjury and heavy lifting. Prescription medications that are sometimes used for acute low back pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as sulindac (Clinoril), naproxen (Naprosyn), and ketorolac (Toradol) by injection or by mouth, muscle relaxants, such as carisoprodol (Soma), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), methocarbamol (Robaxin), and metaxalone (Skelaxin), as well as analgesics, such as tramadol (Ultram).
Once in a great while some cranky reader (always a guy) writes to tell me, “I didn’t learn anything from your book.” I’m a little skeptical about that, and it’s always tempting to start quizzing! There’s a great deal of information here, including analyses of recent research. Sure, readers who have already done a lot of reading about back pain might already be familiar with a lot of it — but you will know that going in, of course, and you’ll find the nuggets of new information and perspective that any keen reader is always looking for. BACK TO TEXT
The most common culprits of severe pain on the right side are gallbladder issues, which would be felt in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, and appendicitis, which is felt in the lower right quadrant. Both of these warrant immediate medical attention. This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any problem and does not replace professional medical advice.

Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones that can make them more prone to breaking. Back pain from osteoporosis is most commonly related to a compression fracture of the vertebra. Often times, with a compression fracture, a person does not report a history of trauma but rather notes sudden back pain after a simple activity like bending over or sneezing.

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