3 Common Causes of Low Back Pain

Back pain is something that most of us experience at some point in our life.  It is one of the most common types of pain that people present with at their doctors office and one of the leading causes of time off work. In order to treat back pain effectively it is important to first understand what is causing it.  This article will discuss the most common causes of back pain so that you can understand the causes of this common condition.  It is important that if you plan to seek care for your low back pain, that whoever is treating you, diagnoses the problem first, otherwise the treatment might not be effective.  

Disc Herniation 

Disc herniations (aka disc bulges and slipped discs) are one of the most common causes of lower back pain and sciatica (pain down the leg).  They are caused when the jelly like substance inside of the disc squishes out and pinches a nearby nerve.  When it hits the nerve, it can cause local back pain, sciatica, or numbness and tingling.  Because the disc material is jelly like, it can move around, meaning that the disc herniation may or may not be pressing on the nerve causing pain.  In fact, many people without back pain have disc herniations in their spine.  Sometimes one small movement or injury can aggravate a disc herniation that has been there for a while and it begins pressing on the nearby nerve causing back pain.  

Disc herniations usually cause acute sharp pain that is aggravated by certain movements.  Lifting and sitting usually aggravate this condition as those activities increase compression forces on the spine.  Lying down or standing are usually relieving and medication doesn’t relieve the pain very much because it is a pinched nerve that is causing the discomfort.  


Arthritis or disc degeneration in the spine happens as we age.  However, there are many things that we can do to prevent the advancement of arthritis in our spines, including exercise, regular chiropractic care and a clean diet.  But most of us have some level of degeneration in our spines and when it is present it can cause pain that is usually achy in nature and relieved by heat and exercise.  

This common cause of arthritis is easily diagnosed by a simple X-Ray.  It will show where the arthritis is, what level it is at and if there are any bone spurs or stenosis present.  

If you have been diagnosed with arthritis by your doctor and told that there is nothing that can be done, don’t settle for that answer.  There is plenty that can be done to manage the pain and prevent the arthritis from getting worse as you continue to age.  You just need to find a good chiropractor or physiotherapist who will listen to your concerns and help manage the problem.  


Another common cause of low back pain is simply dysfunction of the joints and muscles in the spine and / or surrounding joints.  Dysfunction of the spine can happen after an injury if the muscles don’t heal properly (strain), doing exercises improperly, sitting too much, poor posture, sleeping on a bad mattress or repetitive lifting.  Dysfunction happens when tissues don’t heal properly or joints become stuck.  Unless the dysfunction is corrected, it will linger and lead to pain or other issues. Think about a car with a wheel that is misaligned.  If the wheel is not aligned, which is a simple fix, it could lead to the tire wearing out unevenly, problems with the steering column or suspension.  Simply taking it to a mechanic regularly will prevent this from happening.  

Just like your car, you should take your spine for a regular check up with your local chiropractor. This will help prevent problems and keep your spine from developing arthritis.  You will be less likely to injure your spine and loose time from work.