Low back pain causes

Low back pain causes


Low back pain is the cause of one of the most common injuries in the regular population. But what can be the cause of your low back pain? Well stay here and find out. In this blog we will discuss all the different causes for your low back pain.

Specific vs. non-specific low back pain

Before we sum up all the different causes of low back pain. You need to understand the difference between a non-specific and specific low back pain. And it sounds really hard to understand but it isn’t. Specific low back pain is a low back pain that is caused by something we can see on an MRI or X-ray (imaging), so a herniated disc that is causing a compression, a fracture, or stenosis for instance. Non-specific low back pain is low back pain without an “abnormality” showing on an MRI or X-ray as the cause of your symptoms.

Intervertebral disc

Okay, but what structures can give you irritation in your lower back? The first cause of your low back pain can be a discogenic problem. So there can be something wrong with your intervertebral disc. A problem to the intervertebral disc can give you unilateral pain, so pain on one side but also pain on both sides, so bilateral pain. The most common symptom with a discogenic problem is the fact that people don’t like to bend forward or bend to the side. And the cause of this problem can happen because of a strange movement. But this doesn’t mean that you should be scared of making strange movements. Because you need to know that your lower back is robust and is capable of a lot of things. So just keep on moving. That strange movement was probably bad luck.

Arthrogenic problem

Another cause of your low back pain is an arthrogenic problem. In the back are these small joints located, called the facet joints. If there’s a problem with one of these facet joints, you can have unilateral pain. If there’s a problem on both sides of these joints in the back you can have bilateral pain. So you can already see how difficult it is to discriminate between these causes. Especially if you think about the fact that these people also have problems with bending, side bending, and maybe even extending. An arthrogenic problem can also be caused by a strange movement, or just from lying in bed in a strange way. But again, your body and back are robust, so don’t be scared, just move. 

So we have a discogenic and arthrogenic cause, but inactivity can also be the cause of your low back pain. We can put this one on the list of the arthrogenic problem, but it is too important not to mention it. In our physio clinic and also during our online appointments we see a lot of people with low back pain caused by inactivity. A simple way of clearing this up is to just start moving more often. If you need a little help with doing the right exercises, you can get our free low back pain rehab guide on our website.

Nerve compression

Another cause of your low back pain can be a herniated disc. This is one of the specific low back pains. If a herniated disc is giving compression on a nerve in your low back, it can give shooting leg pain. Most of the time people feel more leg pain than back pain. But back pain is present. That’s why I wanted to mention this one. Other specific low back pains can be a stenosis in your low back pain, so a compression caused by a degeneration of tissue, but also fractures can be causing low back pain. But these specific low back pains aren’t that often the cause of your discomfort. 

SI joint

So these were the specific causes. Let’s talk about your SI joint now. Your SI joint can give you irritation in your low back but is only in a really small percentage responsible for your low back discomfort. That has everything to do with the anatomy. Because the shape of an SI joint is so sturdy and robust that the joint itself can’t really move. So a dislocated or moved SI joint is almost impossible.


The last cause I wanted to mention is pain caused by your intestines. Your colons for instance can give you back pain. So that’s why your physio should always ask if you have any difficulty with going to the toilet for instance or if you have any problems with your intestines.

To sum things up, your low back discomfort can be caused by a discogenic, an arthrogenic problem, a lack of movement, specific causes like herniated disc, stenosis, fractures, but also your SI and intestines can be the cause of your discomfort in your lower back. In a lot of cases we can’t distinguish between these different causes and especially between the discogenic and arthrogenic cause. But that doesn’t really matter, because in most of the cases, the treatment isn’t different. 

If you feel like you’re having problems with your lower back and you want our specialists to take a look at it, consider booking an online appointment with our specialist.

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