What causes low back pain?

What causes back pain?

Wow!  What a massive question.

As a sufferer, you’ll have noticed that bouts of acute back pain often come on for no good reason…  The phrase I often hear is “All I was doing was…”  It could be tying shoe laces, putting shopping in the boot.  You’ll have been there yourself.  For me, it was brushing my teeth stooped over the sink first thing in the morning, or long car journeys.  The truth is that the action that you were doing when your back pain came on is simply the last straw on the camel’s back – or your back in this case.

What I call a “precipitating factor”.

Precipitating factors really aren’t that important in the grander scheme of things.  Think about it – if you’ve done it hundreds of times with no ill-effect, but sometimes it goes wrong, it’s probably not that that’s the cause.  What is far more important is the underlying things that predispose you to low back pain.  Here, there’s a whole load of research to provide the answers…


Factors associated with low back pain (Predisposing Factors)

  • Previous episode of low back pain
  • Trauma
  • Poor posture
  • “Cumulative loading” e.g. prolonged sitting
  • “Peak loading” e.g. heavy manual work
  • Being overweight, poor fitness level/lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Stress (particularly work-related), work satisfaction, support


In fact, two of the factors most strongly predictive of low back pain are previous episodes, and lack of exercise.

These “Predisposing Factors” are also often “Maintaining Factors” for many people – things that stop you  getting better.  So, I hear you saying “All that theory is very well Gavin, but how can I fix my back pain?”   The research shows osteopathy is very good at helping people recover from recent onset back pain – so give us a ring! 😉

But for a long-term solution, getting better is only half the job – if you want to prevent the recurrence of back pain, you have to get deal with as many of the “Predisposing Factors” as possible.  More on this in another blog.  So, to recap…

  1. Low Back Pain rarely has a single cause
  2. There are known predisposing factors for low back pain
  3. If you want to prevent recurrence, you have to eliminate the predisposing factors (as much as possible)

It’s good to be back blogging!!



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