Back pain affects us all. Well, that’s not quite accurate. Statistics show that 80% of people will have at least one significant episode of back pain in their lives. Who are these other 20% and why are they so lucky? No one knows for sure. There are definitely some predisposing factors to having back pin. Having a parent or sibling with back pain makes you more prone to the same. Being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, wearing bad shoes, sleeping on a bad mattress, lifting heavy objects, twisting your back, having a physically demanding job, having a job that isn’t physically demanding enough, stress, incorrect posture when standing, sitting or sleeping, accidents, sneezing or coughing violently, are just some of the causes of back pain. And there are hundreds of more. It is interesting to note that a man weighing 300 pounds who had a father and a brother with severe back problems, who works every day doing heavy construction work, then goes home, eats a large dinner, watches television for 4 hours every night while lying on a soft couch, and is under a great deal of stress because his wife is leaving him and he has no money in the bank to pay his bills, might never, ever have any back pain. Likewise, a 30 year old athletic 115 pound female who leads a stress-free life of attending yoga class, walking her dog, going to the gym, and has no family history of back pain, might have severe issues with her back. Confused? So are the experts. While it is true that there are factors, such as those listed above, that can contribute to lower back pain, it is also true that sometimes back pain just happens. You twist the wrong way when lifting your purse. You reach for a bar of soap that fell to the shower floor. You walk too much one day. These are things that happen every day and are so common that when the back pain starts you don’t attribute the pain to that particular action. One day you wake up and your back is sore. You go to the chiropractor and tell him/her that you just woke up with the pain. You didn’t do anything at all to cause the pain…….or so you think. In reality there was likely some minor movement you did that didn’t even register in your brain. The night before when getting dressed/undressed for bed your sock fell on the ground and you picked it up to throw it into the laundry basket. Perhaps you and your partner had an amorous night under the sheets. Nothing extra special, just the usual, and therefore nothing registered in your brain as being dangerous. That night you slept in a bit of a weird position because the cat likes snuggling up to you on cold winter nights. As you tell the chiropractor that you didn’t do anything to cause the back pain you are experiencing, you should be saying “I didn’t do anything that I recall”. Because, in reality your morning back pain was likely caused by one or more of socks, sex or snuggling. It is also possible that back pain can be caused by other, sometime serious problems. Kidney stones cause back pain. So do gall bladder, pancreas, bowel, stomach, uterus, ovary, prostate, bone or vascular problems. The problems can range from the simple problem of constipation to the very serious issue of spinal cancer. That is why every episode of back pain that comes on for no apparent reason must be properly investigated by a back pain expert immediately. And every episode of back pain that comes on because of something that you know you did, such as a wrong movement, should be investigated if it lasts more than 2 days. Your back pain might or might not be caused by the cat snuggling up to you at night. It might or might not be caused by a tumour in your prostate. Only by having some simple examinations and perhaps tests can the chiropractor decide exactly what caused your pain and if it is serious enough to treat, or if you just need some advice and reassurance. Chiropractors are the experts in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of back pain. Blaming the cat for your back pain is the easy approach, but not necessarily the correct one.