Know These Lower Back Pain Facts First

Learn some of the many different causes, exercises, special stretches, pain relief, and treatment options

Determining Mild to Severe Lower Back Pain Causes is Critical for your Health

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There are a number of lower back pain causes. It can be difficult to determine the actual source; however, we have devised a list to consider. This information is categorized into medical and spinal conditions. The spinal conditions section indicates the issues that will cause less severe and more severe lower back pain. There are specific medical and spinal conditions that can contribute to this type of discomfort; however, there is a more common cause.

Most Common Cause

Lower back pain in young women, young men, and the elderly is an extremely common issue. People have different lifestyles that are contributors of lower back tenderness or soreness. Pre-teens and teens can even experience low back pain, especially those in demanding sports such as gymnastics, football, or soccer. Therefore, the most common source is from straining, overusing, and injuring the ligaments, discs, and muscles that support your spine.

Common Medical Conditions

There are specific chronic and acute medical conditions that can be the root of lumbar back pain. Some of these medical problems can be mild, while others can be more severe. Listed below are just a few of the health conditions that can contribute to discomfort in your back:


ac joint osteoarthritis

This is a nice graphic showing Osteoarthritis. While this is in the AC Joint, it depicts what happens when Osteoarthritis forms.

This is a very common issue that many people suffer from during the aging process. It is a form of degenerative arthritis that breaks down and eventually eliminates the cartilage in your joints. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones and the joints. When osteoarthritis affects your spinal canal, it affects your spine’s small facet joints putting pressure on the nerves. This is when you will begin to feel pain.

It is possible to feel pain in your back when osteoarthritis is actually affecting other areas of your body, such as your hips and/or knees. When you have arthritis in your hip or knees, then you will likely favor these areas by putting pressure on the other hip/knee resulting in a limp to compensate for the pain in these areas. This can apply more pressure to your lower back.

Gallbladder Disease

Persistent lower back pain could indicate a gallbladder problem. This is due to inflammation and your gallbladder not functioning properly. If you experience pain in your lower back along with nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and sensitivity in the gallbladder area, your discomfort could be associated with gallbladder disease. You will want to contact your physician for diagnosis.


This is a disease where the pancreas becomes inflamed. When this happens, digestive enzymes are activated before they are secreted into the duodenum and start to attack your pancreas. A symptom of pancreatitis is lower back pain. While the pain actually starts in the upper abdominal area, it will radiate to your back. If you experience back soreness along with upper abdomen tenderness, nausea, vomiting, fever, and an increased heart rate, you could be suffering from pancreatitis. Contact your doctor.

More Medical Conditions

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • Aortic Aneurysm
  • Prostate Disease
  • Kidney Stones
  • Urinary Tract Infection

Less Severe Spinal Conditions

Herniated Disc

l4 l5 herniated disc

MRI showing L4 L5 herniated disc

A herniated disc is caused when the small, spongy discs that cushion the bones in your spine are damaged. They may bulge or break open putting pressure on your nerves. This medical issue is generally caused from your lifestyle choices or injury. Repeated vibration or motion can cause heavy strain or increased pressure on your lower back.


Two common fractures are vertebrae and compression fractures. A vertebrae fracture is generally caused by a significant force, while a compression fracture is caused by a small amount of force.

An example of a vertebrae fracture would be if you were to get into an automobile or bicycle accident causing a hard blow to your spine. An example of a compression fracture is a sneeze. This type of fracture is more common in women suffering with osteoarthritis.

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

bilateral spondylolysis

Posteroanterior view of the lumbar spine revealed bilateral spondylolysis of the inferior articular processes of the fourth lumbar vertebra.

Spondylolysis is a defect that develops in the connection between the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae). These connections allow your spine to bend and twist. This defect generally leads to small stress fractures in the vertebrae.

This can lead to Spondylolisthesis, which is when these fractures weaken the bones enough to force one or more to slip out of place. They may slip forward or backward. When it slips forward, this is called anterolisthesis. When it slips backwards, this is called retrolisthesis. Spondylisthesis can lead to Spinal Stenosis.


Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis develops from wear and tear on your spine from your everyday activities. It is described as a narrowing of your spinal canal caused from the thickening and hardening of your ligaments. The pain is caused from the pressure that is created from this narrowing.

Serious Spinal Conditions Causing Severe Lower Back Pain

The following are not as common. They are considered to be the cause of severe lower back pain.

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis – This form of arthritis causes inflammation in your spinal joints. If left untreated, new bone can form resulting in a fixed position where you cannot move.
  • Sciatica – When your disc becomes herniated or ruptured, the sciatic nerve could be compressed. This will cause a shooting, sharp pain from your buttocks, down one leg to your knee. It could also radiate down to your foot. This can be debilitating.
  • Spinal Degeneration – Wear and tear due to the aging process can cause your spinal canal to narrow leading to stiffness in your back when walking or standing for a long time.
  • Osteoporosis – This is a progressive bone disease that diminishes your bone density and strength causing brittle, porous bones. New bone cannot be produced.
  • Spinal Tumors – These growths can develop on your bones, ligaments, spinal cord, and/or nerve roots causing severe pain.
  • Scheuermann’s Disease – This can cause one or more of your vertebrae to develop wedge-shaped deformities causing your spine to curve.
  • Paget’s Disease – This causes your bones to grow abnormally, which will lead to brittle, enlarged bones. This can result in breakage, thus severe pain.
  • Fibromyalgia – This causes musculoskeletal pain and extreme fatigue through different tender points found all throughout your body.

Severe pain could also be the result of a failed surgery. Unfortunately, sometimes surgery only causes more pain than relief. A bacterial infection is also a possibility. Bacteria can enter into your bloodstream and be carried directly to your spine. Whether it is already in your body from another infection or you contract it during a surgery or injection treatments, you could suffer from severe pain if the discs or spinal cord is infected.


We recommend contacting your doctor if you are experiencing any lower back pain to determine the actual source. Lower back pain is a symptom rather than a condition; therefore, the underlying source is important to determine. Ignoring this pain could lead to serious health issues. Taking action can lead to healthy living and a happier life.

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