What Causes Lower Back Pain? | Reasons & Treatments | PT Effect

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Learn how to prevent common causes of lower back pain
Read Time: 2.5 minutes
Aug 27, 2021

Lower back pain, or back pain in the lumbar region of the back, is the most common cause of absences from work in the United States. Nearly everyone will experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetimes. Often, lower back pain improves on its own. But what solutions are there to cure or prevent lower back pain?

The possible solutions to lower back pain depend on what’s causing the back pain in the first place and what kind of back pain you’re experiencing.

Here are some reasons you should seek medical advice about lower back pain:

  • Your back pain persists for more than 72 hours without improvement
  • The pain was caused by an injury or fall
  • You have other symptoms such as a fever or leg weakness

Common Cause #1

Sitting Too Long

Man working at sitting desk

If you have a desk job, sitting too long at your desk can cause back pain. This is especially true if your chair isn’t comfortable or if you don’t sit with good posture. To prevent back pain caused by sitting too long, you should use a chair that has good lumbar support. You can also place a rolled-up towel between your back and the chair. You should also sit with good posture and get up for breaks from sitting whenever possible.

Additionally, you can invest in a standing desk. There are models that can convert from standing to sitting desks quickly and easily. This will allow you to make the change based on which is most comfortable for you throughout the day.

Common Cause #2

Lifting Heavy Objects

Regularly lifting heavy objects, whether for work, as part of an exercise program, because you’re moving house, or for any other reason, can contribute to pain in your lower back. It’s important to lift anything using the proper technique. To do this, make sure to keep your back straight and vertical. You should be lifting with your knees, not your back. It’s also important to not lift more than you’re able to. If something is too heavy, get someone to help you lift it.

Common Cause #3

Carrying a Heavy Bag

Many people don’t realize that a purse or backpack can cause lower back pain. However, carrying around a stuffed and heavy purse can cause your lower back to hurt. Your lower back muscles support your entire upper body and are engaged the entire time you’re wearing the purse or backpack. If it’s not possible to empty out your purse to carry around less, consider switching to a rolled briefcase or suitcase that you can pull instead of carrying on your back or over your shoulder.

Common Cause #4

Working Out

Woman doing crunches on mat

Exercising is generally good for your health, but can also cause lower back pain if you overdo it. There’s an even greater risk of lower back pain if you overdo it after not working out for a while. There’s also a greater risk of lower back pain from exercises that involve twisting, such as golf.

You should make sure to do exercises that strengthen your lower back muscles. To avoid back pain, it’s also a good idea to gradually increase your workout intensity. If you haven’t exercised in a while, take it easy.

Get Relief for Your Lower Back Pain

If lower back pain is interfering with your daily life it may be time to seek professional help. Our doctors of physical therapy can help you achieve lasting relief. With focused, one-on-one physical therapy we get to the root cause of your pain and eliminate it at the source.

Contact us to schedule your first appointment.

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Mark Shulman

Dr. Mark Shulman

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), FAAOMPT, COMT, CSCS


Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists.

Mark Shulman

Dr. Allison McKay

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), PRPC


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The Physical Therapy Effect

1601 Kettner Blvd Suite 11
San Diego, CA 92101