Skip to content

Low Back Pain - What can cause it?


Back pain can have many different causes, but there are some that are more common than others. Having a better understanding of the possible reasons for your back pain can help you determine if it is something that needs to be addressed by a doctor or not. In this article we will discuss some common causes of back pain and what you can do about them.

Your back

Back pain is usually caused by problems in the muscles and bones of the spine, but it can also be caused by problems in the discs that separate the bones in your spine, or injury to nerves.

The most common cause of back pain is a strained muscle or ligament (a type of tissue that connects bones to other bones). This kind of injury often occurs when you lift something heavy or do an activity that strains your body, like playing tennis or running. Muscle strain causes inflammation and swelling at the site of injury; this may lead to back stiffness and soreness.

A pinched nerve—from arthritis, disc herniations, entrapment syndromes, or other conditions—can cause tingling, numbness, weakness, burning sensation and/or pain radiating down one leg (this is called sciatica). In some people with chronic lower back pain related to aging—such as osteoarthritis—the joints in their spines wear down over time because they don’t get enough nutrients from cartilage (another type of connective tissue that cushions joints).

Your lifestyle

Many factors can contribute to back pain, including:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Traumatic injury
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Stress and anxiety, including mental stress from work or school, and emotional stress due to relationship problems or recent losses.

Causes of back pain

Back pain can be caused by many different physical factors. The most common causes of back pain are:

  • Injuries from accidents or overuse
  • Muscle strain
  • Damaged spinal joints, bones or discs (the disks between the vertebrae)
  • Illnesses and infections such as those that cause osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis

Other causes include stress and emotional tension, pregnancy, a herniated disc in the lower spine that puts pressure on nerves surrounding it; and conditions such as scoliosis and spondylolisthesis (a condition where one vertebra shifts out of place).

Injuries from accidents or overuse

Pain and discomfort in the back can be caused by many different physical factors. These include accidents, overuse, lifting weights, poor posture, or repetitive motions that affect muscles.

Injuries may result from muscle strain or weakness; tightness of joints; wear and tear on spinal discs; herniated or bulging discs; and degeneration of the facet joints.

Muscle strain

One of the most common causes of back pain is muscle strain. Muscle strains can be caused by heavy lifting, overuse, or muscle imbalances. If you have a job that requires frequent lifting and bending, your lower back muscles may become strained. The same is true if you do repetitive movements with your arms or shoulders over time.

If you have muscle imbalances in your hips or pelvis area (e.g., tight hamstrings and weak glutes), this can cause strain on the muscles in your lower back as well as pain down into your legs because they are not working together properly to support each other’s weight during everyday activities like walking and running long distances without breaks in between exercises for stretching out afterward).

Some examples of exercises that can cause muscle strain include:

  • Squats (when done improperly)
  • Deadlifts

Damaged spinal joints, bones or discs

Back pain is a common condition. It can be caused by many different physical factors, including:

  • Injuries from accidents or overuse
  • Muscle strain and tension
  • Damaged spinal joints, bones or discs

Other causes of back pain include illnesses and infections.

Illnesses and infections

The following are some illnesses and infections that can cause back pain.  Instances of these are more rare, but they always need to be considered and ruled out.

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Metastatic cancers
  • Fungal infections
  • Lyme disease
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Syphilis (STDs)

Other causes of back pain

  • Stress
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Posture/fatigue
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor diet (e.g., too many refined carbohydrates)
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption (especially excess amounts of either)
  • Medications that slow down digestion or alter the movement of muscles in your abdomen, such as antacids, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure and the anti-anxiety drug Valium.

There are many different causes of back pain and it is important to see a qualified health professional to find out what is causing yours.

It is important to seek medical advice if you have persistent back pain. Some causes of back pain are serious and need immediate attention, while others can be treated at home.

Even though you may be tempted to wait and see if the problem goes away on its own or if your symptoms improve with time, this is not always the best idea. The sooner you get help, the faster your health will improve and the less likely it is that your condition will become worse or worsen over time.

If you have been experiencing symptoms for less than three months (or six weeks), it’s typically recommended that you see a chiropractor before beginning any kind of self-treatment plan. If you’ve had pain in your back for longer than three months (or six weeks), there are steps you can take right away that may help relieve some discomfort while waiting for an appointment.


If you are experiencing back pain, it is important to have it assessed and treated right away.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that can cause back pain, but hopefully it gives you an idea of some of the possibilities, and what your doctor is considering during your examination. Back pain can be caused by many things and it is important that your doctor knows the cause so they can treat it properly.


Dr. Tim Lahn
Complete Care Chiropractic

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.