Health & Fitness

Causes Of Lower Back Pain

Discover the top causes of lower back pain. Some can be the result of a serious medical condition but it is important to understand that pain is just a symptom.

Lower back pain symptoms are telling your body that something is wrong. While a pain pill may be a temporary solution, it only masks the symptoms. It is not a treatment to permanently cure the problem.

Correctly diagnosing chronic back pain causes, mild or moderate, is important because conservative treatments are very effective in the early stages. If you are experiencing severe lower back pain get a diagnosis immediately.

Severe back pain may get better as the inflammation goes away but don’t take that as a sign that the problem is gone. It is suggested that you seek the advice of a physician rather than attempt a self-diagnosis.

Muscle Strain

Muscle strain is the most common of all low back pain causes. If we overuse a muscle this will cause small tears which then cause us pain.

Your muscles tend to be stronger on your dominant side. Since most people are right handed lower right side back pain is more common.

Many jobs now force us to lead a more sedentary lifestyle so we are more susceptible to this type of injury. Sometimes only minor heightened activity such as a couple of hours of gardening is more than we are used to and can cause a muscle strain.


While pregnancy certainly isn’t a disease the expecting mother goes through a number of changes in a very short period of time. This results in lower back pain for 50-70% of pregnant women making it one of the most common causes of lower back pain.

Many of these changes are related and compound the problem including

  1. Weight gain
  2. Muscle separation
  3. Hormonal changes
  4. Stress
  5. Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve in your lower back is also one of the more common causes of lower back pain and is typically caused by a ligament strain.

Overused muscles can cause a pinched nerve in your lower back but it is less common. When muscles are involved the right side is most often impacted but people will report lower left side back pain about 25% of the time.

The nerve root exits between a hole created by the vertebrae above and below. When one or both of the vertebrae become twisted they will touch the nerve root.

The nerve also controls several bodily functions and when those become disrupted various other symptoms typically arise.

This is not understood by most people, even doctors, so it is typically misdiagnosed. Even more frustrating is when the doctor tells you that there is nothing wrong. This is the reason that a pinched nerve is one of the primary causes of chronic back pain.

Bulging Disc

People hear the term and often ask, “What is a bulging disc?” A person can injure their spine and create a bulging disc but often times will not feel pain immediately. This is because there are virtually no nerves located in and around the disc.

Excess pressure is put on the disc when injured causing the center of the disc, the nucleus pulposus, to protrude towards the outside. This causes the disc to bulge. If this is not corrected it will eventually lead to a protruding disc; also referred to as a herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc in your lower back.

A protruding disc is one of the more serious causes of lower back pain and can require surgery if not properly diagnosed and addressed.

In the picture above you can see the nucleus pulposus beginning to bulge out towards the left.

Lumbar Spine Arthritis

There are more than 100 types of arthritis.

Lumbar spine arthritis is a degeneration of the lumbar vertebrae, particularly in the facet joints and end plates of the vertebrae. These areas have cartilage that lubricates the joints as they move against one another.

The degradation of this cartilage reduces the lubrication creating pain in the lower back and pelvis area. While one of the least understood causes of lower back pain arthritis afflicts a lot of older people.

Spondylolisis and Spondylolisthesis

Although uncommon spondylolysis occurs when the pedicle on the vertebrae breaks off or is only secured by cartilage.

This is present mostly in athletes such as football players and gymnasts so it is thought to be from a previous injury that did not heal properly.

The pedicle helps to align the spine and with it not able to do its job it allows the vertebrae to slip forward against the one below it.

This is called spondylolisthesis. Both are causes of lower back pain.


Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine. Some scoliosis is congenital but the majority of scoliosis is triggered by an injury early in life which resulted in a tilted pelvis.

The picture above shows the pelvis tilting from the left to the right.

The spine has natural curves in it. An abnormal front to back or side to side curve can cause mild to severe lower back pain.

While not exhaustive the above list includes many common causes of lower back pain. There are other causes of back pain covered here.

There are several treatments for lower back pain including non-surgical spinal decompression therapy.

Getting your lower back pain symptoms correctly diagnosed by your physician is critical to knowing the best treatment to recommend. Treat your health as a priority and take action.

Educational Videos

These 3D animations with voice-over are to help you better understand your condition and the possible course of action to treat it.

The simple to use interface will allow you to see and hear the explainations of many conditions, inculding their treatments. The Amazing Spine area will explain the human spine and each vertebrea’s affect on the internal organs and nerves.

To your better health!

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