6 Causes of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and injury in the United States today.

Billions of dollars are spent on the treatment of back pain each year—ranging from surgery to conservative treatment approaches such as physical therapy. Much less money, however, is spent on the prevention of back pain and treating back pain early on.

Low back pain can be caused by many different factors or a combination of factors. The following are six of the more common causes of back pain and the reason people will go see their medical provider:

low back pain physical therapy

1. Acute Overuse Injury:
This type of injury is very common and often ignored. The injury usually occurs with a new activity such as shoveling or lifting something heavy or with a new recreational activity.

2. Poor Posture:
Many people develop low back injury as a result of poor sitting and standing posture. Often this is a result of work demands and not enough movement of the spine and muscles.

3. Soft Tissue Dysfunction:
Many back injuries are a result of acute or chronic trauma to the muscles, tendons and surrounding tissues from strains or sprains suffered from a one-time occurrence or over time.

4. Disk Injury:
The types of injury most commonly diagnosed are disk tears and disk herniations. The exact cause and pain response that differs across people is not known. These injuries often occur with quick or demanding lifting, twisting or bending movements.

5. Disk Degeneration:
This type of injury occurs most often as the body ages and with repeated wear and tear of the spinal structures. This is more pronounced in sedentary lifestyles and sedentary jobs.

6. Spinal Stenosis:
This injury can occur with aging and abnormal stresses to the spine. The canal for the spinal cord and nerves can become narrow and create stress on the nerve. Often little spurs and osteoarthritis contribute to this diagnosis.

The treatment of low back pain can be difficult and troubling to many people. The earlier a person addresses low back pain, the better the outcomes. It is also important that all aspects of injury are addressed and treated. Physical therapy has been proven to be one of the best lines of defense for low back pain.

At Mettler Center, we employ the concepts of manual therapy and therapeutic exercise. Our manual therapy involves addressing the soft tissue tightness and using joint mobilization and manipulation. Once the soft tissue has been properly addressed it is important to add proper movement and exercise to allow the patient to combat future issues and to increase independence from low back pain. The end result is a return to functional and recreational goals.


Jeff Schroder, PT, DPT is a licensed doctor physical therapist at Mettler Center for the past 18 years. Have questions about low back pain? Ask an Expert. Your injury can be evaluated by a physical therapist who can detect functional problems and make the best possible recommendation for treatment.

Call 217-398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist or request an appointment online.