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Three Common Causes of Your Back Pain

Roughly two-thirds of Americans suffer from low back pain in particular, yet only 63 percent actually take the steps to relieve their pain, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Of those two-thirds, 69% say their lower back pain affected their daily lives in different ways such as exercise, sleeping, working and time with family and friends. Those four activities alone make up almost the entire day for most Americans. So why not do something about the pain?

Your back “pain” can range from sharp, excruciating pain to general discomfort. Every individual experiences different signs and symptoms, however these are the most common:

  • muscle tightness or spasms
  • sharp or dull pain
  • limited range of motion,
  • stinging or burning pain that travels to the butt or thigh
  • numbness and tingling
  • difficulty sitting, standing, walking, or going up stairs
  • pain that increases with prolonged activity

Lower back injuries can occur from something as simple as twisting to grab something off of your shelf or as intense as falling off of a ladder. Let’s focus on a few common causes of back pain.

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries: Soft tissue injuries, sprains and strains, are the most common cause of low back pain. Sprains occur when damage is done to the ligaments, while strains occur from damage to the muscles or tendons in the back. The injuries are often caused by things as simple as improperly lifting an object, sport injuries, and sudden movements where the spine is unprotected.
  2. Disc Problems: Spinal discs act as shock absorbers, nerve protectors, mobility assistors. When spinal discs are injured they are compressed, which can cause the jelly-like center to expand and irritate the nearby nerve root, or  it can lead to less cushioning and spinal stenosis
  3. Sacroiliac Dysfunction: The “SI joint” simply refers to the lower portion of the spine, where the spine(sacrum) attaches to the hips(ilium). The SI joint allows for proper hip movement as well as acting as a transfer of weight between the lower body and the main(axial) skeleton. When the SI joint is uneven on one side, the body distributes weight differently which can lead to an increase of pressure on one side. That change in pressure can start off as a mild soreness or immediately cause sharp shooting pain, depending on the mechanism of injury.


These injuries, as well as most other back injuries, occur due to muscular imbalances and poor mechanics. Physical therapy can help decrease the initial symptoms and minimize pain with simple stretches, as well as hands on manual therapy. Once the symptoms have subsided enough the next phase of therapy involves focusing on mechanics and global strengthening of weakened areas that were attributed to the the initial injury to minimize risk of re-injury. Once the overall strength has been regained, it is then vital to begin working on more functional exercises so the patient can return back to their activities of daily living and more!

By: Cierra Washington, ATC

 Here at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we treat patients who suffer from back pain due to the common causes above, as well as many others! LSTC has physical therapists who perform evaluations, diagnose the problem, educate you on your diagnosis and then create individualized programs to help tailor to your goals. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300 and start handling your back pain FOR GOOD!

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.


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