Conventional “knowledge” tells us that we were not meant to walk upright and that backs typically degenerate over time which leads to chronic back pain. If back pain was caused by degeneration of the back and the discs between the vertebrae, then it would make sense that back pain would increase with age. This is not the case however. Back pain actually drops a bit after age 65. We have been told that back pain will occur more often in people who use their backs more often. However, in studies from around the world, more people have back pain in industrialized, modern societies than in rural, agrarian societies.
What is the cause of back pain? There are several serious medical conditions that can cause back pain, such as a vertebral fracture (usually a compression fracture seen in the elderly or those with osteopenia), cancer of the vertebrae (seen in those with metastatic breast, lung or prostate cancer), serious abdominal conditions such as rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, pancreatic cancer, rupture of a duodenal ulcer, or infections such as osteomyelitis, epidural abscess or diskitis. Fortunately, these conditons are relatively rare and easy to diagnose with modern imaging techniques (X-ray, CT or MRI).