Low Back Pain Causes

 Low Back Pain Causes

Let us consider some of the causes of low back pain:

Degeneration of the lumbar spine.

The most common form of degeneration is osteoarthritis.

While there are other forms of arthritis it is osteoarthritis that’s most often encountered.

You will hear this condition referred to as “wear and tear” and the sufferer is often shocked to hear that this is actually osteoarthritis.

The term actually means ‘inflammation in the joints.’  People also often say that there is nothing that we can do about that. Yes, it is true that we cannot replace the wear in the joints other than by surgical means we can do a lot about the “-itis” part of the problem because “-itis” means inflammation.

Details of the lumbar spine vertebrae, disc nerve muscle connective tissueThe Lumbar Spine

The most relevant areas of the vertebral joint where problems occur are:

  1. 1. Intervertebral disc
  2. 2. Intervertebral foramen
  3. 3. Facet joints

The intervertebral disc can herniate (swell) or prolapse (rupture)

The intervertebral foramen can become narrowed

The facet joints can calcify and fuse

How can this degeneration occur?

Generally through trauma, neglect or misuse.


An accident to the area, or even areas, seemingly unconnected can result in inflammation, (swelling).

Under this heading we will include Spondylolisthesis Which is a fracture of the neck of the vertebra. This is often caused by trauma.

The important thing to note about the spinal vertebrae and discs is they get their blood supply from bathing in the interstitial fluid surrounding them, The necessary nutrients are obtained through the osmotic process and via the pumping effect as the disc and surrounding muscle expand and contract. There isn’t a direct arterial blood supply.


A process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one

So if the surrounding area is inflamed the blood supply to it will stagnate. If this continues for a long time the tissues in the area will suffer. It is one of the confusing aspects of the body’s healing and recovery system that while the inflammatory process is part of the healing process it is sometimes impeded in its work and the process is only partially completed. Also the body often has urgent need of blood to other areas that it considers more important than the lumbar spine such as the heart, kidney, lungs, liver etc.

This is why it is important to assess the cause and underlying factors remaining after the acute situation has passed, because there can be lingering swelling and soreness showing that inflammation is still present.

Some examples of factors that can affect the healing process and slow it down.

Faulty Nutrition (Neglect)

Poor nutrition will affect the connective tissue surrounding the spinal joints. Essential minerals are very often deficient in the average diet that comprises convenience and processed food. Click here


A build up of toxins in the blood as a result of tobacco, alcohol and refined carbohydrates such as sugar can lead to deficiency in the blood. It is well established that smoking affects the heart and the circulatory system, vital for supplying healthy blood to your lower back.  Smoking is also a causative factor in osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) Click here


How can posture affect the lumbar tissues.? Click Here Poor posture can cause the weight of the body to pass through areas of the vertebrae that are not designed for weight bearing.  This can cause stress on the spine which leads to inflammation, swelling and possible degeneration in future.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, as their name suggests, reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen and Voltarol can be useful in the short term to solve a minor complaint.  However, if the underlying causes are not addressed and these drugs are used long term they can make matters worse.  Using these drugs is a bit like driving a car when the red warning light comes on and instead of finding out what’s wrong we stick a tape over the light. Not a good idea.


While exercise can be a cause of degeneration of the lumbar spine it is more likely that lack of exercise will lead to the problem.

Let’s look at how exercise can cause problems.

The wrong sort of exercise, or exercises, performed incorrectly, such as sit ups performed with the legs straight out (always bend the knees doing sit ups), can be problematic. Do get instruction from a suitably qualified tutor to avoid such complications.

Strenuous exercise without nutritional attention is risky. How often do we see people who used to be fit amateur sports people who in later years suffer from  arthritic joints – low back pain, knee pain, neck and shoulder pain

Strenuous exercise without nutritional attention is risky. How often do we see people who used to be fit amateur sports people who in later years suffer from  arthritic joints – low back pain, knee pain, neck and shoulder pain.


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