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Causes of Continuous Back Pain

By Jacques Courseault ; Updated August 14, 2017

Continuous back pain is a common complaint of many patients. According to, back pain is the most common reason people go to the doctor or miss work. The back is composed of muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and nerves that, if aggravated, can be a source of continuous back pain. Thus, it is important for a patient to seek the proper diagnosis and treatment from a physician to have the cause of continuous back pain identified.


Arthritis is a common cause of continuous back pain, states Arthritis is the wear and tear breakdown of cartilage in a joint. In the back specifically, cartilage wears down at the facet joint, or the joint that connects two vertebrae together. Because of the breakdown in cartilage, bone spurs or humps of bone, form on vertebrae. In some cases, bone spurs form in the spinal canal can cause narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, which may result in spinal cord compression. Mild cases of arthritis are treated conservatively with exercise, medications and ice or heat therapy. Chronic, severe back pain may need to be surgically treated.

Disc Degeneration

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that degenerative disc disease is a common cause of continuous back pain. In degenerative disc disease, the discs between the vertebrae may wear down over time. This condition affects most people with age. As the discs wear down, they may collapse and cause the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one another and cause pain and stiffness in the joint, states the AAOS. Degenerative disc disease is treated with physical therapy, oral medication and epidural steroid injections. If severe, surgery may be necessary.


Osteoporosis is a common cause of continuous back pain, states Osteoporosis is a condition in which a calcium deficiency causes bones to become weak and brittle. Over time, this results in many compression fractures in the vertebrae. Compression fractures may cause a dull, achy continuous pain in the back. Furthermore, compression fractures can cause a narrowing of the foramina, or the space in which spinal nerves exit the spinal cord. This can cause pain to radiate into other parts of the body, most commonly the legs. In this case, osteoporosis must be treated to prevent further fractures. In addition to physical therapy, a doctor may prescribe bisphosphonates, or medication that mimic hormones to treat osteoporosis.

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