I'm 52-years old and have a fairly inactive job at the city newspaper. Last week I stood up and got a shooting pain down my leg. Now I can hardly straighten up. The doctor thinks it's a disc problem. How could this happen? I wasn't lifting or twisting.

Studies show many different kinds of people with various jobs develop a disc problem. Most are involved with heavy-duty work, but some have light-duty work or are students or retired.

Heavy lifting and repetitive movements put a person at increased risk of back injury. Smoking or tobacco use are also linked with low back pain. Aging with disc degeneration is also a risk factor.

Even though your situation seems like it happened all of a sudden, it's likely that a gradual process of disc degeneration has been taking place over time. An old injury, poor posture, or large abdomen adds stress and strain to an already aging body part.