Main causes of lower back pain

The main causes of lower back pain 

Lower back pain (LBP) affects most people at some point in their lives. The causes can range from mild irritation to the small joints known and ‘facet joints’ either side of the spine to more severe disc bulges. In more recent time we are also becoming aware of the biopsychosocial links to LBP whereby such factors as stress can influence the symptoms of LBP. If you have severe or persistent lower back pain and you’re looking for physiotherapy in Twickenham, our experts can assess you carefully and come up with a programme consisting of advice, home exercise and manual therapy to target the affected area. 

But as always, prevention is better than cure, which is why understanding the causes of lower back pain can help you avoid it in the first place. 

Common causes of lower back pain


Poor posture is a well-known cause of lower back pain as it prevents your weight being equally distributed across your back. Instead, certain parts of your spine and back muscles become painful. Slouching at your desk is notorious for causing lower back pain. However, it can be tiring to maintain the correct posture at your desk for long periods of time. So make sure you get up every hour and walk around for a couple of minutes to stretch out your back muscles. Alternatively, if possible, you can try using a standing desk. 

Repetitive bending or twisting activities

Certain jobs and sporting activities will involve repetitive bending and twisting activities which can place a lot of force through the lower back. This can lead to pain from the discs and or facet joints if the movement isn’t controlled or balanced out with periods of counter movements. maintaining good flexibility and strength throughout the spine is essential for maintaining good back health and minimising the risk of activity related pain.


If you’re carrying extra weight it can put stress on your body and contribute to tension in your back and inflammation of your tissues. The result is often a multitude of aches and pains, including lower back pain. Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy weight, therefore, reduces the strain on your back. 

Poor lifting technique

Acute LBP can be precipitated by poor lifting technique. it can gradually build up over time with repetitive poor lifting at low intensity or it can come on in more dramatic style when lifting with a poorly positioned spine when lifting a much heavier weight. In this circumstance it much more likely to be a disc that is the cause of the pain. If this happens it is highly recommended you seek advice and treatment from one of or highly skilled physiotherapists to guide you through your recovery to give yourself the best chance of making a full recovery.


Exercise, particularly cardiovascular activity such as running, swimming or even regular walking, gets your blood flowing, increases your mobility and strength, and eases muscle tension. This makes it great for preventing back pain.

How physiotherapy can help

If your back pain persists for over a month it might be worth popping in to see one of our physiotherapists. We can advise you on a series of gentle exercises and stretches to improve your muscle strength, posture and mobility. 

We can often be quite precise as to the source of the pain and target this area.  We also provide hands-on therapy to reduce muscle spasms, joint sensitivity and stiffness, which often contribute to lower back pain.  Sometimes we will need to refer you for further investigations.

When you should see a doctor

Most people find their lower back pain improves within 4–6 weeks. However, if your lower back pain is persistent or severe, you should see your GP, as well as a physiotherapist. Your GP can help with a short course of different medications, which often aid recovery.

Rarely, symptoms might point to something serious eg cauda equina syndrome, when the nerves at the bottom of your spine are compressed. This usually requires urgent treatment but is very rare.

Call your GP immediately if you:

  • feel a tingling sensation or numbness around your buttocks or genitals
  • struggle to pass urine
  • lose control of your bladder or bowels
  • your legs feel weak or you feel unsteady when you walk
  • have a temperature or feel clammy.

If you’re unable to identify the main causes of your lower back pain or you’re struggling to manage it, don’t suffer in silence. Call us on 0208 898 1213 and one of our friendly practitioners will assess you and guide you through your treatment options.

This is general information and guidance; it does not substitute for specific advice provided following a proper assessment.