Types and causes of lower back pain

Written by: Top Doctors®
Published: | Updated: 21/02/2020
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Lower back pain is also known as lumbago. There are two types of lower back pain: mechanical and inflammatory. Mechanical low back pain is where the pain worsens with movement and improves when resting.


It is often the main symptom of other diseases such as lumbar osteoarthritis, muscular contracturesdisc degenerations, narrow lumbar spine or vertebral fractures, in cases of advanced osteoporosis. In contrast, inflammatory lower back pain is one that improves with movement and worsens with rest. This type of back ache may sometimes prevent the patient from sleeping. It is a characteristic symptom of autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis.

What are the causes of lower back pain?

The main cause of mechanical lower back pain is muscle strain, often occurring when a spine showing early or advanced signs of degeneration. Another cause for this type of lower back pain is an osteoporotic vertebral fracture, which requires a more complex treatment. As for inflammatory lower back pain, it can occur mainly in diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis. The aim of treatments in these cases is to suppress the inflammation.


What’s the difference between lower back pain and sciatica?

Lower back pain and sciatica are different things. While lower back pain refers to pain located in the lower back, sciatica is a lower back pain that spreads to the legs. The most common cause of sciatica is the presence of a herniated disc that traps the end of a nerve root.


How to prevent lower back pain?

Lose weight (if necessary) - being overweight can increase your risk of developing back pain as it puts strain on the spine

Exercise - regular exercise can help keep your back strong

Bend with your knees when lifting - to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the spine

Do regular back exercises and stretches - you can get professional advice from your GP or physiotherapist

Avoid sitting for long periods at work or when driving - take breaks

Correct your posture – especially when sitting, using computers and watching television

Get a good-quality mattress – which supports your back properly


By Topdoctors

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