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  • Writer's pictureAdam Whatley

What are the causes of low back pain?

Back pain it’s by far the most common musculoskeletal complaint, and is by far the most common thing we see here at our back pain clinics in Solihull and Birmingham. In this content we want to give you an idea and an understanding on the possible causes of back pain.

Most commonly, mechanical issues and soft-tissue injuries are the cause of low back pain. These injuries can include damage to the intervertebral discs, compression of nerve roots, and improper movement of the spinal joints, which can lead to irritation and inflammation.

Below are some common examples of the causes of low back pain:

Muscle Strain and Ligament Sprain

Low back muscle or ligament injuries can happen suddenly, or can develop over a period of time from repetitive movements or over use. Muscle strains otherwise known as a 'pulled muscle' can occur when a muscle is stretched too far and develops micro-tears. Ligament sprains happen when over-stretching a joint. Whether it be either a pulled muscle injury, or a ligament injury, the treatment is often the same.

What causes a muscle or ligament back injury?

  • Lifting a heavy object

  • Twisting and over stretching

  • Sudden fall

  • Poor posture

  • Sports injuries

While muscle and ligament injuries do not sound too serious and do not typically cause long-lasting pain, the acute pain can be quite severe, especially a ligament injury. As ligament injuries are close to the spine, local inflammation can be severe and can irritate local sensitive near by structures.

Lumbar herniated disc

The lumbar discs have a jelly-like centre that can break through the tough outer layer and irritate nearby nerve roots. This is known as a disc herniation, where portion of the disc protrudes out and causes local inflammation. Furthermore, this protrusion can cause compression of local nerve roots, and consequently pain going down the leg. The discs outer layer is also highly supplied by nerve fibers, and a tear through the wall can cause severe pain.

Degenerative disc disease

When we are young our spinal discs are full of water. This is when they are able to deal with compression the best, and at their healthiest. As we age our discs begin to lose hydration and wear down. As the disc loses hydration, it cannot deal with compression as well. This then transfers force to the disc wall that may develop tears and cause pain or weakening that can lead to a herniation.


This condition results from degenerative wear and tear of the disc and facet joints. It can cause pain, inflammation, instability, and reduced mobility. This most commonly occurs at areas that take more load, like the lower lumbar spine. Spinal osteoarthritis is associated with ageing and is slowly progressive.

Facet joint irritation

There are two facet joints behind each disc at each motion segment in the spine. These joints like any other joints have cartilage between the bones and are surrounded by a capsular ligament, which is richly innervated by nerves, and can be hugely pain sensitive. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

The sacroiliac (SI) joints connect the sacrum (bottom of the spine) to each side of the pelvis. It is a very strong, low-motion joint that absorbs shock and tension between the upper body and the lower body. The SI joint can become painful if it becomes inflamed, or if the SI ligaments that surround the joint become irritated. Spinal stenosis

This condition can cause pain through narrowing of the spinal canal where the spinal cord and nerve roots are located. As a consequence of the narrowing, this can lead to expressive pressure and possible nerve impingement. Spondylolisthesis

This condition occurs when one vertebra gradually slips over the adjacent segment. There are varying different types of spondylolisthesis, but the most common is fracture of the pars (between the facet joints) or degenerative. The pain can be caused by compression of the nerves. Osteoarthritis

This condition results from degenerative wear and tear of the disc and facet joints. It can cause pain, inflammation, instability, and reduced mobility. This most commonly occurs at areas that take more load, like the lower lumbar spine. Spinal osteoarthritis is associated with ageing and is slowly progressive. Deformity

Curvature of the spine can include scoliosis and kyphosis. The deformity may be associated with lower back pain. Trauma

Acute fractures or dislocations of the spine can lead to pain. Lower back pain that develops after a trauma, such as a vehicle accident or a fall, should be medically evaluated.

Compression fracture

This is a fracture that occurs in the vertebral body, in which the bone essentially caves in on itself, can cause sudden pain. This type of fracture is most common due to weak bones, such as from osteoporosis.

It is important to note that the presence of one or more of these conditions can also mean a contribution to another condition.

What are the common causes of backpain?

Pain is considered chronic once it lasts for more than three months and exceeds the body’s natural healing process. It may also be a case of coming and going frequently. Chronic pain in the low back can often include any of the above.

Less Common Causes of Low Back Pain


osteomyelitis is a spinal infection that is rare but can cause severe pain and is life threatening if untreated. It can be caused by surgical procedures, injections, or spread through the blood stream. A compromised immune system can predispose this condition.


This can either be a local benign tumour or a tumour that starts in another part of the body and metastasises to the spine. The most common tumors that spread to the spine start from cancer in the breast, prostate, kidney, thyroid, or lung. Any new symptoms of back pain in a patient with a known diagnosis of cancer should be evaluated for possible spinal metastasis.

Autoimmune disease

Back pain can be a possible symptom associated with an autoimmune condition, such as related to increased inflammatory makers.


Don’t let back pain, sciatica, or arthritis get in the way of allowing you to do what you want. Schedule a consultation at Dynamic Osteopaths today, and let us treat your back pain and sciatica, allowing you to get back to your full and active lifestyle. We have clinics operating out of Solihull (Henley-In-Arden), Birmingham (Harborne / Edgbaston) & Bromsgrove (Barnt Green).

Call us today 01564 330773

#OsteopathSolihull #BackPainTreatmentSolihull #OsteopathEdgbastonBirmingham #OsteopathBromsgrove #BackPainTreatmentHenleyInArden #BackPainClinic #BarntGreen #SciaticaTreatment

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