Causes of Lower Back Pain

Overview of Minor and Major Lower Back Pain Causes

Back pain can involve bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, as well as other spinal structure components which is why the upper, middle, and lower back regions are impacted. However, due to being more flexible and experiencing the greatest demand, the lower or lumbar region is impacted by pain more often than the upper and middle back. Officially known as Sacroiliac or Lumbosacral pain, this is the number one complaint by people with back pain.

The list of possible lower back pain causes includes both minor and serious injuries and illnesses. Although there are several measures that could be taken to prevent injuries and even certain illnesses, once back pain has set, it would be essential to seek medical attention so the right treatment options could be discussed. So people can see the range of lower back pain causes, we provided examples.

Lower back pain causes are broken down into a non-specific and specific category. In the former category, pain has no direct link to an injury or illness. In this case, a person would not typically experience any long-term ill effects and treatment is usually easy. Pain in the specific category would be associated with a particular injury or illness and while simpler treatments can work, a more aggressive approach to pain relief is often needed.

Non-specific Causes of Pain

We first wanted to list some examples of non-specific lower back pain causes, again, those having no direct link to an illness or injury.

  • Not Being Fit – Remember, the lower back faces extreme demand on a daily basis from bending, lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, and so on so when muscles of the back are not strong, the back becomes strained, sometimes to the point of injury. We will advise on some exercises on another article.
  • Being Overweight – Among the most common non-specific lower back pain causes is weight. Someone who carries 40 or more extra pounds around would be at greatest risk but even being 20 pounds too heavy could lead to back pain.
  • Improper Mechanics – To prevent injury, it is imperative for a person to use proper mechanics. A perfect example is seen with lifting something heavy by bending the knees and allowing the leg muscles to do most of the work therefore avoiding the back muscles from being strained. Another example would be making a sudden and awkward twisting motion at which time muscles, ligaments, and tendons could be stretched.
  • Poor Posture – Another one of the most common lower back pain causes has to do with posture. This would apply to anyone who sits for long periods, whether while driving, being in a classroom, or working at a desk, as well as slouching while standing.

For non-specific type pain, small changes are usually sufficient to prevent a problem from developing but remember, once pain has set in, all of the lower back pain causes mentioned above can be treated relatively easy.

Specific Causes of Pain

Lower back pain causes in this category are more serious. By seeing a qualified doctor and/or physiotherapist, a firm diagnosis could be made and the most effective and safest treatments provided.

  • Arthritis – This inflammatory and degenerative disease affects joints within the body to include the knees, hands, hips, and lower back. By itself, arthritis is painful but if a secondary disease called Spinal Stenosis develops, the space surrounding the spinal column narrows, which intensifies the pain.
  • Herniated Disc – Also referred to as a bulging disc, ruptured disc or slipped-disc, a herniated disc occurs when soft material inside a disc bulges or ruptures and then puts pressure on nerves or the spinal cord. While there are times when a person experiences no pain, due to nerve roots being pinched, this is usually a very painful condition.
  • Osteoporosis – With age, bone mass begins to deteriorate, becoming more porous and brittle, even more important on women after menopause. As a result, compression fractures can develop of the vertebrae, which are very painful.
  • Sciatica – Several nerves can be pinched as the result of a herniated disc or new bone formation secondary to arthritis, but when the main nerve called the Sciatic Nerve is involved, the level of pain intensifies. Many people who have experienced the combination of a bulging disc and pinched sciatic nerve state of all lower back pain causes, this is the worst.
  • Scoliosis & Lordosis – They are two types of skeletal irregularities involving,  curvature of the spine to one or both sides (forming an “S” shape when looked from behind), or excessive bending of the lower back, when looking for the sides, respectively. When the spine has only a slight curve, only the upper back region may be involved but with a severe spinal curvature, the arch of the lower back can be quite exaggerated, increasing the stresses and strains on all the structures involved.
  • Additional Major Concerns – Among lower back pain causes within the specific category listed, we felt it was important to mention that in rare instances, pain could develop because of the onset of a major illness or conditions. Three primary concerns include a spinal infection, spinal cancer, Spina Bifida, and Cauda equina syndrome, a neurological problem in which nerves serving the lower back and legs are affected.