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7 Common Causes of Back Pain and How Chiropractic Care Can Help

Back pain is a common complaint that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by various factors, from poor posture to underlying medical conditions. If you suffer from back pain, you may seek ways to relieve and improve your quality of life.

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, drug-free approach to treating back pain that has helped many people relieve their symptoms. The goal of chiropractic care is to address the underlying cause of your back pain and provide you with long-lasting relief. If you are struggling with back pain, learn more about how chiropractic care can help you find comfort and improve your quality of life.

What Are the Causes of Back Pain

  1. Poor Posture

Poor posture, muscle strain, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, and spinal stenosis commonly cause back discomfort. Incorrect posture can stress the spine, resulting in back discomfort. Poor posture can be aggravated by excessive sitting, standing, or improper lifting. Back pain can be caused by strained muscles or ligaments strained by sudden twisting or lifting of large objects. Athletes and individuals participating in strenuous physical activities are more susceptible to muscle strain.

A herniated disc occurs when the cushioning between the vertebrae ruptures, resulting in excruciating back discomfort. This may result from degeneration, trauma, or repetitive strain. Due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that may produce back pain. This condition is more prevalent in the elderly. Spinal stenosis is when the spinal canal narrows, causing nerve compression and back discomfort. This condition is more prevalent in the elderly.

  1. Muscle Strain

Muscle strain is a common cause of back pain, especially for people who engage in physical activities or have physically demanding jobs. A muscle strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn due to sudden or excessive force. This can happen during a sports injury, a fall, or lifting a heavy object.

Muscle strains in the back can cause mild to severe pain and discomfort, depending on the injury severity. Muscle strain symptoms may include stiffness, limited range of motion, and muscle spasms. Muscle strains can cause muscle weakness or nerve damage.

The lower back and erector spinae muscles are particularly prone to strains. This is due to their role in supporting the spine and aiding movement. Straining these muscles can cause lower back pain and discomfort.

  1. Herniated Disc

A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, is another common cause of back pain. The spine comprises individual bones called vertebrae, and a disc is a cushion-like structure between each vertebra. The disc consists of a soft inner core and a tough outer layer.

A herniated disc occurs when the disc’s inner core pushes through the outer layer, causing pressure on the spinal nerves. This can lead to pain, numbness, weakness in the back, and pain radiating down the legs.

The exact cause of a herniated disc is not always clear. However, it is often associated with aging, as the spinal discs lose water content and become less flexible over time. Other factors that can increase the risk of a herniated disc include poor posture, excessive weight, and repetitive activities that strain the back. These activities include heavy lifting or twisting.

The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Common symptoms include pain in the back or legs, numbness or tingling, and weakness in the affected area. In severe cases, a herniated disc can lead to loss of bowel or bladder control and immediate medical attention should be sought.

  1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common cause of back pain, especially in older adults. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down over time. When the cartilage in the spine joints breaks down, it can lead to bone-to-bone contact, which can cause pain, inflammation, and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis has no exact cause but is often associated with aging as joint wear and tear increases. Other contributing factors to osteoarthritis include genetics, obesity, and previous joint injuries.

Osteoarthritis symptoms can vary, but common symptoms include back pain, stiffness, reduced mobility, and flexibility. In severe cases, osteoarthritis can lead to bone spurs. These spurs can pressure the nerves in the spine and cause pain and discomfort.

  1. Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This can lead to back pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the legs.

Several factors, including age-related spine degeneration, herniated discs, bone spurs, and spinal injuries, can cause spinal stenosis. It is more common in older adults and is often associated with osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.

Spinal stenosis symptoms can vary depending on the location and severity of the condition. Common symptoms include pain and stiffness in the back, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the legs. In severe cases, spinal stenosis can lead to loss of bowel or bladder control and immediate medical attention should be sought.

  1. Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when a vertebra in the spine slips out of its normal position and slides forward onto the vertebra below it. This displacement can occur at any spine level but is most commonly seen in the lower back (lumbar) region. Spondylolisthesis can be caused by various factors including degenerative changes in the spine due to aging, congenital abnormalities, or traumatic injury to the spine. The symptoms of spondylolisthesis can range from mild to severe and include back pain, muscle spasms, numbness or tingling in the legs, and difficulty standing or walking. Treatment for spondylolisthesis may include physical therapy, pain management, and surgery to correct vertebral displacement in severe cases.

Spondylolisthesis is a relatively common condition that can cause significant back pain and disability. It is estimated that approximately 5-7% of the population has some form of spondylolisthesis, with higher rates observed in certain populations, such as athletes and individuals who engage in activities that involve repetitive spinal motion or impact. Spondylolisthesis can be diagnosed through various imaging studies, including X-rays, CT scans, and MRI. Early diagnosis and treatment of spondylolisthesis are essential to prevent further vertebral displacement and minimize the risk of complications such as nerve damage or spinal stenosis.

  1. Sciatica 

Sciatica is a common cause of back pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the legs, becomes compressed or irritated. The compression or irritation of the nerve can result from a variety of factors, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or trauma to the spine. Sciatica symptoms include sharp or shooting pain in the lower back and legs, numbness or tingling, and muscle weakness. Sometimes, the pain may be severe enough to limit mobility and prevent normal activities. Treatment for sciatica may include pain management, physical therapy, and surgery to address the underlying cause of nerve compression in severe cases.

Sciatica is a condition that can affect people of all ages and is estimated to affect up to 40% of the population at some point in their lives. The risk of developing sciatica increases with age and is more common in individuals with back problems or spinal injuries. The diagnosis of sciatica can be made through a combination of physical examination, imaging studies, and neurological testing. Early diagnosis and treatment of sciatica are important to prevent further nerve damage and improve the chances of successful treatment outcomes. With proper treatment, most individuals with sciatica can manage their symptoms and regain mobility and quality of life.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

Chiropractic Adjustments

Spinal manipulation, or chiropractic adjustments, is a common treatment procedure chiropractors use to alleviate back pain. During an adjustment, the chiropractor applies a controlled, pulse to a specific spinal joint using their hands or a specialized instrument.

The adjustment realigns and restores motion to the spine’s vertebrae and enhances the nervous system’s function. This can reduce pain and inflammation, improve mobility and flexibility, and promote overall health and well-being.

Chiropractic adjustments are a non-invasive, drug-free treatment option for various back pain conditions. In conjunction with other treatments, such as exercise and stretching, they are frequently used to manage back pain and enhance overall health.

Soft Tissue Therapy

Chiropractors also use soft tissue therapy to ease back pain. Soft tissue therapy involves various techniques, such as massage and stretching, to alleviate tension and promote healing in the body’s soft tissues. This includes muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Soft tissue therapy can be particularly effective for muscular or connective tissue dysfunction, such as muscle strains, sprains, or tension headaches. Chiropractors can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing by applying targeted pressure and stretching to the affected areas.

In addition to manual techniques, chiropractors may also use ultrasound or electrical stimulation tools to promote healing in the soft tissues. These techniques can be particularly effective for deep tissue injuries, stimulating blood flow and promoting scar tissue breakdown.

Rehabilitation Exercises

Rehabilitation exercises are an integral part of chiropractic care for back discomfort. These exercises are intended to increase the strength, flexibility, and mobility of the back’s muscles and joints, reducing discomfort and enhancing overall function.

Chiropractors may suggest various exercises depending on the patient’s requirements and condition. Stretching, strength-building, and range-of-motion exercises may be included. Rehabilitation exercises help patients regain control of their movements and daily activities by enhancing function and decreasing pain.

In addition to traditional exercises, chiropractors may employ specialized apparatus, such as traction devices and exercise balls. This aims to facilitate the safe and effective performance of exercises by patients. Additionally, they may provide advice regarding proper posture and body mechanics. Taking this measure can help prevent further injuries and reduce the possibility of back pain in the future.

Rehabilitation exercises are frequently combined with chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapy to manage back pain comprehensively. With these techniques, chiropractors can develop personalized treatment plans that address the underlying cause of pain and restore normal body function.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Back Pain

  1. Non-invasive and Drug-Free Treatment Options

Chiropractic back pain treatments are non-invasive and drug-free. Chiropractic care requires neither surgery nor medication. Chiropractors manually manipulate the spine and other joints to alleviate discomfort and improve function. This non-invasive method eliminates surgical and pharmaceutical dangers such as infection, hemorrhage, and adverse reactions. Additionally, it reduces prescription drug use, which can be addictive, has adverse side effects, and contributes to the opioid epidemic. Chiropractic care treats the underlying cause of back pain, not just the symptoms, allowing patients to avoid more invasive procedures.

  1. Targeted Approach to Address Back Pain Root Cause

Instead of concealing back pain symptoms, chiropractic therapy targets the problem. Chiropractors can spot restricted movement, misalignment, and other back pain causes. They use manual procedures to realign the spine and other joints. Chiropractors treat pain by treating its cause. Chronic back pain sufferers or those who have not responded well to conventional treatments may benefit from this tailored approach. Chiropractic therapy improves spinal health and function, preventing future back discomfort.

  1. Safe and Effective Treatment for Patients of All Ages

Chiropractors evaluate and treat patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. They tailor each patient’s treatment to be non-invasive and gentle. Patients with underlying health issues and pharmaceuticals can benefit from chiropractic care. Pregnant women can safely receive chiropractic care. By treating the underlying cause of back pain, chiropractic care can enhance the quality of life and decrease pain and disability in people of all ages. It appeals to those seeking safe, effective, non-invasive back pain treatment.

  1. Improves Spinal Health and Function

Chiropractic therapy improves spine health and function, reducing back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders. Chiropractors fix spinal misalignments and joint dysfunction through manual manipulation and other methods. This minimizes inflammation, nerve pressure, and circulation for a healthy spine. Chiropractic therapy improves mobility, balance, and coordination, reducing falls and other accidents. The health and function of the spine are improved through chiropractic therapy, which results in improved overall health.

  1. Prevent Back Pain Recurrence

Rather than simply treating the symptoms of the pain, chiropractors work to identify and address the underlying causes of the pain. This may involve correcting misalignments in the spine or improving the function of the affected area’s joints, muscles, and nerves. By addressing these issues, chiropractic care can help to reduce the risk of future episodes of back pain. Additionally, chiropractors can provide patients with exercises and other strategies for maintaining spinal health and function, reducing the risk of recurrence. By preventing back pain from recurring, chiropractic care can help patients maintain a higher quality of life and avoid the need for more invasive treatments.

Best Prevention Tips to Avoid Back Pain

Importance of Maintaining a Good Posture 

Good posture is essential for maintaining a healthy spine and preventing back pain. When you maintain good posture, your spine is in a neutral position, which helps to distribute weight evenly across your body. This reduces the stress and strain placed on your back, preventing pain and injury.

Here are some additional details on the importance of maintaining good posture as a prevention tip:

  • Reduces Pressure on Your Spine: When you sit or stand with good posture, your spine is in a natural, neutral position. This helps to evenly distribute your body weight’s pressure evenly across your spine. Poor posture, such as slouching or leaning to one side, can put extra pressure on your spine, leading to pain and injury.
  • Improves Breathing and Circulation: Good posture can also improve your breathing and circulation. Sitting or standing up straight opens up your chest and allows you to take deep breaths, which can increase the amount of oxygen in your body. This can also improve circulation, which can reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Prevents Muscle Strain: When you have poor posture, it can cause your muscles to work harder to maintain your balance. This can lead to muscle strain and fatigue, which can cause pain and discomfort. By maintaining good posture, your muscles can work more efficiently, preventing stress and injury.
  • Improves Mood and Confidence: Good posture can also have psychological benefits. When you stand or sit up straight, it can make you feel more confident and optimistic. It can also improve your mood and reduce stress, which can help to prevent pain and illness.

Keeping your spine in a neutral position can reduce stress and strain on your back, prevent muscle strain, and improve your overall health and well-being.

Exercise and Stretching 

Exercise and stretching are important for maintaining a healthy back and preventing back pain. Regular exercise can help strengthen your muscles, improve your flexibility, and increase your overall fitness level, reducing your risk of injury and pain. Here are some additional details on the importance of exercise and stretching as prevention tips:

  • Strengthen Muscles: Exercise can help to strengthen the muscles in your back, abdomen, and legs, which can help to support your spine and reduce your risk of injury. Strong muscles can also help improve your posture, preventing pain and discomfort.
  • Improve Flexibility: Stretching can help improve your flexibility and range of motion, reducing your risk of injury and pain. Tight muscles and joints can put extra strain on your back, which can cause pain and discomfort. Stretching can help to loosen up these areas and reduce tension.
  • Increase Fitness Level: Regular exercise can also help improve your overall fitness level, reducing your risk of illness and injury. Exercise can help to improve your cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, and reduce stress, all of which can contribute to a healthy back.
  • Prevent Weight Gain: Exercise can also help to avoid weight gain, which can put extra strain on your back. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of back pain and other health problems. Regular exercise can help to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of back pain.
  • Improve Mood and Reduce Stress: Exercise can also have psychological benefits. Regular exercise can help improve your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost your overall well-being. This can help to reduce your risk of back pain and other health problems.

Ergonomic Workplace Design

Ergonomic workplace design is vital to preventing back pain, especially for office workers. Poor workplace design can strain your back, neck, and shoulders, leading to pain and discomfort. Here are some additional details on ergonomic workplace design as a prevention tip:

  • Proper Desk and Chair Height: Your desk and chair should be appropriate to ensure your feet are flat on the ground and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your posture will be improved, and pressure on your back will be reduced.
  • Supportive Chair: Your chair should have a comfortable backrest and armrests. The result can be reduced pressure on your back and neck and the prevention of muscle strain.
  • Computer Monitor Height: Your computer monitor should be at eye level, which can reduce strain on your neck and shoulders. You can use a monitor stand or adjust your chair height to achieve the proper height.
  • Keyboard and Mouse Placement: Your keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach and at a comfortable height. This way, you will have fewer arm, shoulder, and wrist strains.
  • Proper Lighting: Proper lighting reduces eye strain and prevents headaches. It can also improve your posture by reducing the need to lean forward to see your work.
  • Regular Breaks: Regular breaks from sitting and computer work can prevent back pain and other health problems. Try stretching, walking, or doing other physical activities during your breaks.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Healthy lifestyle habits prevent back pain and maintain a healthy back. Here are some additional details on the importance of healthy lifestyle habits as a prevention tip:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese can strain your back, leading to pain and discomfort. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help to reduce your risk of back pain.
  2. Eat a Balanced Diet: A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can provide the nutrients and energy your body needs to maintain a healthy back. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is also vital for maintaining strong bones.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water and other fluids can help keep your spinal discs hydrated and healthy, reducing your risk of back pain.
  4. Quit Smoking: Smoking can reduce blood flow to the spine and cause spinal disc degeneration, leading to back pain. Quitting smoking can help to reduce your risk of back pain and other health problems.
  5. Get Enough Sleep: Adequate sleep is important for overall health and well-being, including a healthy back. Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow that provide adequate support can also help to prevent back pain.
  6. Manage Stress: Stress can cause muscle tension and contribute to back pain. Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help to reduce muscle tension and prevent back pain.


Back pain is a common condition that can significantly affect your quality of life. Chiropractic care can effectively manage and reduce your pain, whether you suffer from poor posture, muscle strain, a herniated disc, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis.

If you are experiencing back pain, we encourage you to explore chiropractic care. A chiropractor can work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. This helps you achieve your health goals.

Remember, managing back pain is not a one-size-fits-all approach. With the right treatment plan and support, you can find relief and return to your hobbies. Don’t let back pain hold you back – contact a chiropractor today to start your journey toward a pain-free life.

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Dr. Laura Dronen

Dr. Dronen graduated in 2001 from Northwestern Health Sciences University with a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree. She enjoys treating families including children of all ages, pregnant women and those suffering from injuries (car accidents, work injuries, or sports injuries).