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What Are Common Causes of Constant Lower Back Pain?

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis, one cause of back pain.
While constant lower back pain is rarely a sign of a significant or dangerous disease, it can still have a major effect on a person's quality of life.
Sprained ligaments, strained muscles and pinched nerves can cause constant lower back pain.
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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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Some of the most common causes of constant lower back pain include sprained ligaments, strained muscles, and compressed nerves. An irritated nerve in the back can cause sciatica, a condition that causes pain in the lower back and down the leg. Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that can affect any joint but is most often found in the lower back, can also result in pain. Other potential causes of constant lower back pain include rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, a slipped disc, and obesity.

In the majority of cases, constant lower back pain isn’t a sign of a significant or dangerous disease, but it can still have a major effect on a person’s life. This is sometimes known as non-specific back pain, where the discomfort can’t be traced to a particular disease. Non-specific back pain can range from mild to severe and is often difficult to treat. Possible causes of non specific lower back pain include a sprained ligament, strained muscle, or a minor structural problem.

Another common cause of constant lower back pain is sciatica. This is also known as nerve pain because it occurs when a nerve in the patient’s lower back is compressed. When the nerve becomes irritated, it can cause pain through the lower back and down the leg. In some cases, the pain will also be felt in the foot. Sciatica is usually the result of a slipped disc in the lower back, although often the true cause is unclear.

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A condition known as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, can cause constant lower back pain. This is less common than sciatica or non-specific pain, but results in a stiff and painful lower spine and buttocks. It can also affect other joints in the body. A person suffering from ankylosing spondylitis will often gradually notice back pain getting worse over the course of several months. The discomfort usually lessens with exercise, which is one way of distinguishing it from other potential causes, and often develops between the ages of 15 and 40.

There are a large number of other potential causes of lower back pain. Arthritis, for example, can cause inflammation in the spine which results in pain. A slipped disc, aside from causing sciatica, can also result in lower back pain. It is thought that being overweight or stressed increases the chance of lower back pain, although these are contributing factors rather than a specific cause.

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literally45
Post 3

@ddljohn-- Is the pain above or at the hip? If it's above the hip and at one side, it could also be kidney stones. Those cause chronic lower back pain.

donasmrs
Post 2

@ddljohn-- It's not possible to know what's causing your lower back pain without a physical examination and possibly an MRI because there are many lower back pain causes. However, what you're describing sounds a lot like sciatic pain which can be caused by a slipped disc, a herniated disc or a pinched nerve in the back.

I have a herniated disc in my lower back and I get constant lower back pain for several weeks every six months or so because of it. I was diagnosed three years ago with an MRI test.

What basically happens when a disc becomes herniated from pressure is that it cracks and leaks the spinal fluid that's inside. The fluid spreads out and applies pressure on the nearby nerves, causing pain.

When I don't do anything wrong like lifting heavy things and bending over to get things from the floor, I don't have much pain. But if I make a wrong move, the sciatic pain returns and I usually suffer for a few weeks until I get shots of muscle relaxers and pain relievers.

ddljohn
Post 1

I've had lower back pain symptoms for the past two weeks. It seems to get better when I walk, but I'm in pain whenever I sit or lie down. Sometimes the pain resonates into my leg.

Does this sound like a slipped disc? How is a slipped disc diagnosed?

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