15 Common Causes of Lower Back Pain


Lower back pain affects millions worldwide, often hindering daily activities and diminishing quality of life. Understanding its underlying causes is vital for effective management and treatment. Factors causing lower back pain can range from lifestyle-centric to medical conditions. In this article, we’ll explore 16 possible reasons your lower back might be hurting, providing insights to help you identify potential sources of pain and seek appropriate remedies.

Muscle Strain


One common cause of lower back pain is overstretching or tearing muscle fibers. It occurs due to heavy lifting, sudden movements, or poor posture. Symptoms often include localized pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. In extreme cases, physical therapy may be necessary to strengthen the muscles.

Degenerative Disc Disease

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As known, the discs between our vertebrae act as shock absorbers. With age, these discs wear down and lose their cushioning ability. This results in pain, especially when sitting for extended periods, and sometimes numbness or weakness radiating down the legs due to pinched nerves. 



This dreaded pain shooting down your leg happens due to pressure on the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body. The culprit is often a herniated disc, where the soft inner disc material bulges and presses on the nerve. One needs to improve flexibility and strengthen core muscles through physical therapy and pain medication.

Spinal Stenosis

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During spinal stenosis, the spinal canal narrows, compressing the spinal cord and nerves and pressuring the lower back. Reasons include age-related changes, arthritis, and congenital spinal defects. The direct result of spinal stenosis is pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. 



Osteoarthritis, the “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis, affects the facet joints in your lower back, leading to stiffness, pain, and decreased flexibility. Imagine the smooth cartilage cushioning the joints wearing down, causing bones to rub together painfully. To maintain joint mobility, one has to continue doing exercise. 

Poor Posture

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Slouching might seem harmless, but it puts excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments in your lower back. Since our spine resembles a stack of blocks—proper posture keeps them aligned, while slumping creates a precarious imbalance. Consciously correcting your posture throughout the day and strengthening core muscles that support your spine will significantly improve back pain.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction


Sacroiliac joint dysfunction refers to abnormal movement in the sacroiliac joints, which are the bones at the base of the spine connecting to the upper part of the pelvis. These joints are formidable and stable, designed to provide limited movement and support weight while transferring forces between the upper body and legs.

Maintaining A Sedentary Lifestyle

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Sitting for long periods tightens the hip flexors in the front of your hips and weakens your core muscles. Such imbalance pulls your pelvis out of alignment and strains your lower back. Experts recommend getting up and moving around regularly throughout the day. Even simply standing up and changing positions will do the trick.



Excess weight strains your lower back like overloading a backpack. The extra pounds push your pelvis out of alignment, stressing muscles and joints. Losing weight would significantly reduce back pain for obese individuals, giving overworked muscles a much-needed break.   

Sleeping On A Bad Mattress

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An old, lumpy, or unsupportive mattress could wreak havoc on the back. Why so? When a mattress doesn’t conform to our body’s arcs, the spine curves unnaturally all night. Consider investing in bedding with good pressure distribution and proper alignment for the neck and back.

Kidney Stones


Sharp lower back, flank, or abdomen pain is a telltale sign of kidney stones. As these hard deposits travel through the urinary tract, they irritate and scrape the lining, causing intense pain that comes and goes. Generally, kidney stone pain often feels more intense than lower back pain and isn’t relieved by changing positions.


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Many women often have endometriosis, a condition where uterine-like tissues grow outside the uterus, which causes lower back pain. When this misplaced tissue irritates the lower back or pelvis nerves, one might feel deep and achy pain. It often gets worse around period days or during ovulation. 


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Unlike a muscle strain that improves with rest, spondylitis pain worsens in the morning and eases with activity. Due to inflammation, the spine feels stiff, especially when one hasn’t moved for a while. This inflammation stiffens and irritates joints in the spine, leading to a dull ache or tenderness in the lower back.



In this chronic condition, one experiences pain throughout the body, including significant discomfort in the lower back. While the exact cause remains a mystery, genetics, environment, and even psychological factors might play a role. But fibromyalgia isn’t just about pain. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating might also be part of the experience.



The bones that make up our spine slip out of place and move forward over the one below it, leading to lower back pain and even nerve irritation in the spine. Some people might experience mild discomfort, while others have significant pain and leg weakness.

Written by Bruno P