What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain is often due to a combination of issues, including:

  • Faulty spinal biomechanics
  • Spinal musculature which has become weak or deconditioned
  • Uncoordinated muscle firing patterns
  • Degeneration
  • Trauma (acute and chronic)
  • Joint dysfunction
  • Poor posture

Determining the exact cause of back pain can be a challenge, and requires obtaining an accurate history and an appropriate clinical examination.


Discs are located between the vertebrae (bones of the spine) and act as shock absorbers for the spine. The outer disc wall, known as the annulus fibrosis, surrounds a jelly-like center known as the nucleus pulposus. Through years of wear and tear, constant vibration or pounding, a slip and fall, coughing or sneezing, lifting and twisting or simply bending to pick up a piece of paper can cause a weakening of the disc wall and cause a bulge or tear which presses on surrounding nerves. This is a condition in which part or all of the soft, gelatinous central portion (nucleus pulposus) of an intervertebral disc is forced through a weakened part of the annulus fibrosis portion of the disc resulting in back pain and nerve root irritation.


Lumbar (and cervical) Decompression Therapy (LDT) is one of the fastest growing and effective therapies available today for the non-surgical treatment of herniated/bulging discs, arthritis, and non-responsive mechanical low back pain.

The following are examples of common causes of back pain.

  • Bulging Disc
  • Disc Decompression
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Facet Syndrome
  • Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome


Your spine, or backbone, protects your spinal cord and allows you to stand and bend. Spinal stenosis causes narrowing in your spine. The narrowing can occur at the center of your spine, in the canals branching off your spine and/or between the vertebrae, the bones of the spine. When the spine narrows, it puts pressure on your nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain.

Spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people older than 50. Younger people with a spine injury or a narrow spinal canal are also at risk. Diseases such as arthritis and scoliosis can cause spinal stenosis, too. Symptoms might appear gradually or not at all. They include pain in your neck or back, numbness, weakness or pain in your arms or legs, and foot problems.

The wear-and-tear effects of aging can also lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. Narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal pinches the nerves that go to the skin and muscles of the legs. Sometimes, the pinched nerves become inflamed, causing pain in the buttocks and/or legs.


Facets function as guides to align the vertebrae of the spine. Facet Syndrome can result from injury or degeneration of the disc(s). The facet joints are where the back of the vertebrae interconnect to limit motion. They are designed to impart strength, flexibility, and maintain spinal integrity, as well as offer a range of defined movement for each vertebral level.

The facet joints are richly innervated, and facet joints which become too tight, inflamed, or otherwise irritated can trigger symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning, and achy soreness along the nerve path.


The sacroiliac joints are comprised of the triangular sacrum (at the base of the spine) and the right and left ilia, which together form the pelvis. The SI joints lie under the “dimples” at the base of the low back. They are held together by strong ligaments and typically have little motion, although they can become “stuck” or fixated, or at times hypermobile (too loose) such as during pregnancy. SI joint pain can mimic other types of low back conditions. Your chiropractor will perform various orthopedic and other tests to determine if you are suffering from SI joint syndrome.