Lower back pain can be caused by a huge number of issues. You can spend hours searching the internet and still never feel like you’ve found the issue. That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a useful list of things that could be causing your lower back pain so you can quickly find out why you’re suffering. The quicker you get to the problem, the quicker you can get to the solution.

We want to help. When you’ve found the cause of your lower back pain, why not check out our lower back pain relief page?

Strains and sprains

Most likely the lower back pain you’re feeling is nothing too serious. Although we know it probably doesn’t feel that way. The good news is that strains and sprains will go away in time, and there are plenty of ways to relieve and prevent them.

Back sprains and strains can be caused by:

  • Getting a bit lax about stretching before exercise
  • Exercising too much
  • Suddenly exercising when your body isn’t used to it
  • Twisting your back awkwardly (we’ve even seen it caused by terrible dancing)
  • Lifting something heavier than you’re used to
  • Lifting in the incorrect way
  • Falling over


 Backs are generally quite strong, and it takes a lot of impact to cause an injury. But if you’ve recently fallen from a height, or you landed on something sensitive, this could be the cause of your lower back pain. You should watch out for tingling in the low back and numbness which stretches down your legs.

Possible causes are:

  • Falling
  • Traffic accidents
  • Sports injuries

We suggest seeing a GP or physio if you think your lower back pain is caused by falling. They’ll be sure to rule out anything too serious.


You’ve probably heard of sciatica as it’s a fairly common cause of low back pain. It’s named after the sciatic nerve, which goes all the way down your back and into your feet. Unfortunately, this means there are plenty of opportunities for it to be compressed, which is what causes sciatica.

Other symptoms to watch out for:

  • Pain that travels down your low back and into your legs
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pain that gets worse when you move


This is quite rare so it’s unlikely to be the cause of your lower back pain. But if you think you may have an infection in your back make sure you see a doctor.

Possible reasons for an infection in your lower back are:

  • After suffering an injury in your lower back
  • After spinal surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • HIV

Other symptoms of infection are swelling and redness in the back, muscle spasms, fever and chills, and numbness in your legs.


It’s often thought that scoliosis just occurs in children. But adults can suffer as well. It’s where the spine curves to one side, and if you suspect you had scoliosis as a child then you’re also likely to carry it into later life with you.

The signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven hips

Degenerative disc disease

This can happen when the discs between the vertebrae in your spine starts to wear down. It can be really painful, because the discs are there to protect your vertebrae from rubbing together. You’re unlikely to have this one until after the age of around 60.

Other symptoms are:

  • Weakness in your legs
  • Numb legs
  • Pain that travels down your legs

Cauda equina syndrome 

This is very rarely the cause of lower back pain, so luckily you’re unlikely to have to learn the word. It’s caused when something compresses the nerves and usually comes from a herniated disc.

Other symptoms you’ll have are:

  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Numbness or weakness in your legs

Spinal stenosis

This probably isn’t the cause of your lower back pain unless you’re over 50. It can be pretty painful as what you’re feeling is the narrowing of the spinal canal putting pressure on your spinal cord and the roots of your nerves.

Other signs to watch out for:

  • Numb or weak legs
  • Trouble walking
  • Sciatica


Carrying an extra person in your body can, unsurprisingly, put a lot of strain on your body. Luckily there’s a simple way to find out if pregnancy’s causing your low back pain. Simply take a pregnancy test.

Kidney stones

The kidneys are one of the only organs in the back of your body, and they serve an important function so it’s worth looking after them. Kidney stones can be a very painful cause of lower back issues.

Other signs you should keep an eye out for are:

  • Pain in the right side of your stomach
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Fever
  • Pain that comes in waves
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood in your urine
  • Urine infections

As always, we suggest seeing a GP if your lower back pain is serious. A physio can also get to the heart of the problem. Physiotherapy can help you relieve your lower back pain, as well as preventing it from happening again. But we would say that wouldn’t we?