Explore Low Back Pain

What is Low Back Pain?

This pain can range from mild, dull, annoying pain to persistent, severe, debilitating pain. This type of pain can interfere with normal activities. The National Institutes of Health have shown that eight out of 10 people will have back pain at some time in their life and that back pain commonly causes adults and children to limit their activities.


It is difficult to determine what causes low back pain. Some common problems include:

  • Strenuous activity or improper use (i.e. lifting something heavy with your back muscles instead of your knees)
  • Trauma or fracture
  • Degeneration of the bones in the back
  • Obesity
  • Poor muscle tone in the back
  • Ligament or muscle tears
  • Joint problems (e.g. spinal stenosis)
  • Smoking
  • Herniated disk
  • Disease (e.g. osteoporosis, compression fractures)


If you are experiencing low back pain and see a spine doctor about it, your doctor will take a medical history (including asking about back problems that may run in your family) and a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may also request an x-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, Radionuclide bone scan or an electromyogram (EMG – to test your nerve and muscle function).


There are many factors that will go into developing a treatment plan for low back pain. Those factors include:

  • Your age, health and medical history
  • Your specific diagnosis
  • Extent of the condition and pain
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your preference

Some treatment options include:

  • Activity modification
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss (if overweight)
  • Assistive devices
  • Surgery