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Causes of Back Pain in Young Adults

Back pain… it’s something that most people probably equate to growing older. Most of us have had a parent, grandparent, or even great grandparent who suffered from back pain and, naturally, we likely figured they were experiencing that pain because they were elderly. However, as unfortunate as it may sound, back pain isn’t just confined to seniors. The fact is that young people can experience back pain as well, and although it may not be as prevalent in youth as it is in the elderly, it can be just as bad, or even worse, when it occurs in young people. After all, when we’re young, we expect to be able to be at the top of our game. We look forward to living a long, active, and vibrant life, and we don’t expect something like back pain to get in our way. Following is more information from top spine specialists in New Jersey regarding the various causes of back pain in young adults, as well as prevention and treatment options.

Back injury

Back injuries are number one when it comes to causes of back pain in young adults, especially injuries due to motor vehicle accidents and playing sports. But these aren’t the only types of injuries that can occur to young adults that can end up causing years of back pain. Injuries that involve everyday activities such as showering, climbing stairs, and even walking can lead to back pain that can be significant and lasting, especially if not properly diagnosed and treated. Such pain can be a sudden onset of acute, unbearable pain, or it can endure, becoming a long-term pain that persists. Injuries to the back should always be taken very seriously and should be diagnosed and treated immediately by a healthcare provider such as a spine specialist or orthopedic surgeon.

Muscle strain

Perhaps the most common cause of back pain in young adults is muscle strain or ligament strain due to awkward movement, sudden movement, or repetitive motion. Many adults, including those who are in their late teens and 20s, have experienced some type of back pain that results from muscle strain. In fact, surprisingly, recent studies show that as many as 20 percent of all young adults have experienced a condition commonly known as ‘throwing your back out.’ This can happen to anyone, but the main reasons young adults may experience this include being overweight and/or leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Lower back pain

Lower back pain experienced by young adults is often associated with playing sports, especially when that sport involves performing repetitive extension, flexion, and/or rotation such as occurs when dancing, playing soccer, or performing many of the moves required in gymnastics. Overuse and acute injuries that occur in young adults are also more common that you’d think. Young adults who compete in amateur or professional athletics often present with lower back pain because these athletes tend to have a high incidence of structural injuries. These can include spondylolysis and other injuries to the posterior elements of the spine that result in lower back pain.


Those patients who are in middle age and beyond tend to experience back pain due to infection less frequently than young adults do, mostly because of the disease processes that develop following years of living an unhealthy lifestyle. Back pain in young adults is more commonly caused by infection than in patients who are older. Two of the most common types of infection that can lead to back pain are osteomyelitis and discitis.

Spine Specialist
Spine Specialist

Spinal disease processes

Another cause of back pain in young adults is disease processes. Some of the most common of these include spinal disease processes such as scoliosis, also referred to as curvature of the spine, as well as ankylosing spondylitis, which is an inflammatory disease of the spine that causes vertebrae to become fused together. Such disease processes can begin with pain and lead to more pronounced problems, and eventually to more significant pain and less mobility. For this reason, it is vital that any young adult who is experiencing back pain see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Being a young adult is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. It’s when you’re planning your future, looking forward to building a life, and you’re wide-eyed and hopeful about the possibilities before you. The last thing you expect is for back pain to get in the way of your plans. If you’re a young adult who’s experiencing back pain, you may want to contact a spine doctor in New Jersey to schedule a consultation for diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment… because being young should never involve being in pain.

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