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What’s Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

Time to confess: Could your posture use a makeover?

You’re not alone. It’s just one of the reasons why you could be experiencing back pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Let’s take a quick look at some possible causes of your pain:

  1. Poor posture. “Sitting in an unsupported position puts a lot of pressure on your back, especially the lower region,” says Alpesh Patel, MD, director of orthopaedic spine surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
  2. Over-exercise. If you’ve pushed it too hard at the gym, you could be experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness.
  3. Herniated disc. This is often a result of normal aging, but can also be a result of high-impact sports like football.
  4. Endometriosis. Even though endometriosis is associated with reproductive health, referred pain can present itself in the lower back.
  5. Sciatica. Your sciatic nerve runs through your spinal cord, hips and legs. If this nerve becomes compressed (from a herniated disc or bone spur), you can feel a sharp pain in your back or down one leg.
  6. Kidney stones. Although smaller kidney stones aren’t accompanied by symptoms, larger ones can be very painful. This pain can also present itself in the stomach or sides.

Treatment depends on the type and severity of pain. For minor issues, try using a heat or cold pack on the area. Stretches or physical therapy might also be beneficial. If you’re experiencing persistent or intense pain, consult your physician.

- Alpesh Patel, MD, Northwestern Medical Group, Spine Surgery