Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons individuals visit their primary care doctors each year and up to 80% of Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetime.

One of the most frustrating things about dealing with lower back pain is that it can often feel like it comes out of nowhere.

The good news is that physical therapy is very effective in treating low back pain and at Life’s Work Physical Therapy, we are experts in diagnosing and treating the various causes of low back pain.

Here are 5 of the most common reasons you might be experiencing lower back pain.

Is bad posture causing my back pain?

Posture is one of the most common causes of low back pain. When we stand, sit and walk with good posture the spine rests in a neutral position where no one region of the spine is excessively stressed. 

When we slouch through our low back, middle back or neck, stress is unevenly applied through the spine resulting in increased strain and shear forces. The result, especially when we are in poor posture for prolonged periods of time, is pain, stiffness and discomfort.

Is bending and lifting at work causing my back pain?

If you have a job that requires a lot of bending and lifting you are at increased risk of developing lower back pain. Repeated bending and lifting increase the workload through our lumbar spine and can result in overuse injury and pain. Many of us don’t know how to safely lift heavy weight which can further impact the low back. In the same way, our backs are not meant to sit for hours at a time and desk jobs and jobs that require a lot of driving are also associated with an increase in low back symptoms. This is especially true since the pandemic began when many office workers switched to working from home where they didn’t always have access to an ergonomic workstation.

Is my strength (or lack of) causing my back pain?

Strength is another major contributing factor to low back pain, especially strength in the deep core. Our deep core muscles include the pelvic floor, transverse abdominals, and multifidus muscles. These muscles are beneath the rectus abdominis (also known as the six pack muscles) and obliques and function like an internal brace. When these muscles are weak it puts more stress on our low back and can result in stress to the lumbar extensor muscles which can sometimes be felt as muscle tightness or spasm. It is especially important for women after pregnancy to strengthen these muscles or for anyone who has any type of abdominal or back surgery.

Is my sedentary lifestyle causing back pain?

Our modern lives are incredibly busy and the result of this is that we are increasingly sedentary. Our activity level has a huge impact on our overall health as well as how we physically feel. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and numerous other health conditions, exercise has a positive impact on our musculoskeletal system which includes our low back. As we sometimes say in physical therapy “A body in motion stays in motion”. Maintaining good overall mobility, strength, and endurance in all our joints can prevent low back pain from occurring in the first place. Additionally, weight bearing exercise has a positive impact on bone density.

Is back pain caused by my old age?

Age related degenerative changes can contribute to the onset of low back pain. Our spine absorbs a lot of force throughout our lives and as we age, it ages too. These age related changes can result in loss of mobility, increased stiffness and loss of strength or stability. The good thing is that physical therapy can keep your spine healthy as you age and prevent these problems from developing.

In Summary : Back Pain Causes

A healthy lower back is important to our overall physical well-being. While there are many different reasons for low back pain, physical therapy can identify why you are having low back pain and develop an individualized treatment plan to resolve your pain and prevent it from returning.