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  /  Ayurveda   /  What are the Five Causes of Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain can be caused by several factors. The five main causes of lower back pain are:

  • Congenital causes. These are present right from the time of birth and may be due to genetic or non-genetic factors.
  • Injuries. Injuries can occur due to regular or recreational activities that you participate in such as sports or may also occur when you’re involved in an accident.
  • Degenerative problems. These are conditions where the function or structure of the affected part gradually worsens.
  • Nerve and spinal cord problems. These happen due to conditions that affect the proper functioning of your nervous system and the spinal cord.
  • Non-spine factors. This includes factors other than those that directly affect your spine such as tumors or pregnancy (in women).

We look at the causes and the risk factors for lower back pain to help you prevent it {1}.

Lower Back Pain Due to Injuries

A sudden injury to the muscles that support the surrounding regions could lead to pain in the lower back. This could be due to:

Sprains. When your ligaments are stretched more than what they can tolerate, it can cause a sprain. In some cases, the tendons or muscles could also tear due to overstretching or could lead to spasms when your muscles contract suddenly.

Traumatic injuries. Sports injuries, car accidents, or a fall can injure the ligaments and muscles in your back. It could also cause injuries to your vertebrae or the discs that cushion your vertebrae {1}.

Congenital Causes of Lower Back Pain

Congenital spinal conditions are those that you’re born with. The abnormal development of the spinal canal leads to an unnatural vertebral development in the embryo. Some of these conditions are:

Skeletal irregularities. This includes conditions like scoliosis (that causes a curvature of the spine), lordosis (that leads to an overdeveloped arch in the lower back), kyphosis (that causes an exaggerated outward arch of the spine), and other congenital anomalies.

Spina bifida. This condition does not allow the spinal cord to develop completely. This could mean the incomplete development of the spinal cord or the protective covering of the spinal cord. It may lead to deformation of the vertebrae and in some cases could even cause paralysis {1}.

Degenerative Causes of Lower Back Pain

Certain conditions may become worse over time and this could be the cause of back aches. Some of these conditions are:

Spondylosis. As you age, the normal wear and tear of the joints, discs, and bones in the spinal cord could cause spondylosis.

Arthritis. Arthritis could develop in several ways such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and spondylitis. All these conditions cause inflammation of the vertebrae.

Intervertebral disc degeneration. The vertebral discs are cartilaginous layers between the bones in the vertebrae. They have three primary functions – to hold the spinal vertebrae together, absorb the shock, and give mobility to the spinal cord. Intervertebral disc degeneration occurs when the discs between the vertebrae wear down and lose their cushioning effect {1}.

Lower Back Pain Due to Nerve and Spinal Cord Issues

Certain conditions specifically affect the spinal cord and the nerves in your spine. These conditions can occur due to various reasons that may be linked to your lifestyle or other factors such as accidents.

Osteoporosis. This condition gradually decreases the density and strength of your bones causing them to become weak and could lead to painful fractures in the vertebral column.

Sciatica. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve that runs all the way down from the buttocks to the back of the leg is pinched. This is typically due to one of the discs between the vertebrae bulging outward and putting pressure on the sciatic nerve causing radiating pain all the way down one or both the legs. This condition is also known as radiculopathy.

Spondylolisthesis. This happens when the vertebrae of the lower back are displaced and pinches the nerves of the spinal column.

Herniated discs. Also known as ruptured discs, this condition occurs when the discs between the vertebrae are compressed and project outward.

Spinal stenosis. This condition involves the contraction of the spinal column that puts undue pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves.

Cauda equina syndrome. A herniated disc protruding into the spinal column and pressing on the lumbar nerves could be very painful and may cause irreversible neurological damage if left untreated.

Infections. Your lower back is also vulnerable to infections. Conditions caused by these infections are named based on the affected region – osteomyelitis in the vertebrae, discitis in the intervertebral discs, and sacroiliitis in the sacroiliac joints that link your lower spine to the pelvis {1}.

Other Conditions That Could Cause Lower Back Pain

Your lower back pain could also be caused by conditions that affect other parts of your body.

Kidney stones. This condition usually leads to acute pain on one side of your lower back. Depending on the side of the kidney that’s affected, you may either feel the pain in your lower right back or you may also get lower left back pain.

Tumors. Certain types of tumors can put pressure and cause harm to the spinal cord or the nerves and bones in the spinal column.

Pregnancy. Lower back pain is very common in pregnant women and symptoms almost always completely disappear after giving birth {1}.

What Are the Risk Factors for Lower Back Pain?

Although lower back pain can occur at any time, certain factors may increase the chances of its occurrence.

Age. Lower back pain becomes more common the older you get. The incidences of osteoporosis become higher with advancing age and it’s also common to lose muscle elasticity with age. Your intervertebral discs also tend to lose fluid which in turn lowers their capacity to cushion your spine against impact.

Mental health. Emotional factors like anxiety and depression can also affect your physical health. Stress can hamper your physiological functions in several ways including causing muscle tension that could lead to lower back pain.

Weight gain. If you’re overweight or have gained considerable weight within a short period, it could put undue strain on your back and cause back pain. In such scenarios, effective weight loss may help reduce the occurrence of lower back pain.

Genetics. Certain causes of back pain are genetic and could be passed from one generation to the next. One such example is ankylosing spondylitis which causes immobility of the spine.

Level of fitness. The more fit you are, the lower your chances of getting lower back pain. If the muscles in your back and abdomen are not strong enough, they may not be able to support your spine. But keep in mind that sometimes physical activity could also be the cause of lower back pain.

Your profession. A job that requires you to deal with heavy weights constantly, especially that puts undue strain on your spine could cause lower back pain. On the other hand, having a sedentary job that involves very little movement throughout the day and needs you to be stationary for long periods could also be a cause of lower back pain. An important risk in such scenarios is maintaining poor posture for long durations {1}.


Venkat - AuthorAbout the Author:

Venkat is a freelance writer and an SEO buff. He writes about health & wellness, technology and finance.




National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.”