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Why Does My Lower Back Hurt Every Day? Causes, Treatments & When to See a Doctor

Written by Beth Holloway, RN, M.Ed

You may be looking for answers to the questions, “why does my lower back hurt?” or “what is the cause of my pain?” 

You may have more specific concerns like:

“What organs can cause lower back pain?”

Body organ problems are not common causes of low back pain. However, your kidneys, located on either side of your lower back, may be associated with low back,  if an infection or other problem is present. 

“Could my hip problem make my back hurt?”

The simple answer is, “Yes!” A problem with one of your hips may cause your back to hurt due to the location of your hips in relation to your lower back.

“What can cause lower back pain in a woman?”

Generally, there isn’t anything unique about the causes of low back pain in women compared to men. However, one example is pain associated with osteoporosis, a condition more common in women. Of course, low back pain may be a symptom of some conditions affecting the female reproductive system.

The answer to your questions and concerns isn’t an easy one. That’s because low back pain has many causes, some quite common and others not.

The Causes - Why Is My Lower Back Hurting?

What Are Most Common Causes of Low Back Pain?

Less Common Causes of Low Back Pain

Rare Causes of Low Back Pain

When to Call Your Doctor

* Hip and knee conditions, mental health conditions, and excess weight contribute to low back pain.

Most Common Causes of Low Back Pain

Strains and Sprains

Both strains and sprains mean that tissue is stretched or torn.  A stretched or torn muscle or tendon is called a strain. A stretched or torn ligament is called a sprain. Both are common in the lower back (lumbar area). 

When a person sprains or strains the lower back, they may feel a stretch or tear followed by pain. There may also be swelling or bruising in the area. Movement can worsen the pain, making it difficult to take part in daily activities.

Accidents, Injuries, and Incorrect Movements

Minor accidents, injuries, and incorrect (or lack of) movement can cause low back pain. Some examples include:

  • Slipping or other quick movements (for example, tripping while walking your dog)

  • Improper bending, lifting, or twisting (for example, holding heavy shopping bags away from your body)

  • Overusing the back (for instance, while golfing or playing racquet sports) 

  • Underusing the back (for instance, sitting for long periods of time without breaks) 


Osteoarthritis is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease. When it affects the spine, it is called degenerative disc disease. This means there is wear and tear on the discs of the spine, which are made up of cartilage.  Extra bone (called bony spurs) may form on the edges of the vertebrae.

Osteoarthritis becomes more common with age. Due to daily wear and tear, the spongy cartilage that protects many joints begins to break down. This results in pain and stiffness.

Less Common Causes of Low Back Pain

Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve (also called radiculopathy) is irritation or pressure on one of the nerve roots in the spine. They are common in the neck and in the lower back. In the lower back, the symptoms affect the buttocks and legs (also called sciatica). 

The symptoms may range from mild to severe. Common symptoms are pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling, although some people do not have symptoms.

Although a pinched nerve is a problem with a nerve, it is due to different changes in the spine; either spinal stenosis, a narrowing in the space where the nerve passes through the spine, or disc disease (also called a slipped disc), a disc is out of position.


A fracture is a break in any bone – including the vertebrae of the spine.

A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) is a type of fracture where the bone is compressed or flattened. Compression fractures are most common in women past menopause who have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes weak, brittle bones; even a simple movement may cause a fracture. 

Another type of fracture is called spondylolysis, which is more common in young people. Sometimes this type of fracture weakens the vertebra and it slips out of position and is then called spondylolisthesis.

Spinal fractures may also result from serious accidents or injuries. There may also be damage to the spinal cord. These injuries can cause paralysis (loss of ability to move) or death.


An abnormal curve of the spine to the left or the right is called scoliosis. The curve – which may range from mild to severe– can cause pain in the back.

The Hip

A person may have a problem in the hip, but they may feel it in the lower back. When pain is felt in one part of the body, but the problem is actually somewhere else, it is called referred pain.

The Knee

Osteoarthritis or other conditions causing knee pain may change the position of the knee. This often changes how a person walks. This, in turn, may lead to low back pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is a problem with the body’s immune system. A person may have general symptoms like fever, tiredness, and body aches. Without treatment, RA damages joints. Many different joints may be affected, including those of the back and hips. 

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

AS causes inflammation in joints. Most often it affects the joints in the back. A person with AS has severe pain and stiffness, usually in the lower back and hips. Some of the bones of the back may grow together. This results in the inability to move that area of the back.

Pain Syndromes

Pain syndromes have many symptoms, some include back pain. One pain syndrome – fibromyalgia – affects different parts of the body, usually the back. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia are problems with sleep, memory, and mood.

Mental Health

Many studies, some specific to low back pain,  have looked at mental health problems and the pain-depression-stress cycle

This cycle works in two ways. Pain worsens depressed feelings which increase stress & anxiety, which increases pain, and the other way, pain increases stress & anxiety, which worsens depressed feelings, which increases pain.

Excess Weight

Extra weight adds stress to the bones and joints. This is especially a problem with the lower back where the weight increases the risk of low back pain and problems like osteoarthritis.  

Rare Causes of Low Back Pain


Although rare, serious infections may occur in one of the structures of the lower back, for example, the lumbar spine. Localized pain, as well as other symptoms, occurs.

A kidney infection (pyelonephritis) usually involves low back pain. Trouble urinating and fever are also common.

Tumors and Cancer

Since the back is such a large part of the body, tumors or cancer in different organs or body systems (as well as in the back) may cause back pain. It depends on the type of cancer, the location of the tumor/cancer, and whether or not it has spread (metastasized).

When to Call Your Doctor

Most of the time, low back pain isn’t serious. However, you may ask “When should I be worried about lower back pain?” 

You should contact your doctor right away or seek immediate care if you have low back pain with any of the following symptoms or risk factors:    


  • Fever, body aches, and tiredness

  • Pain extending to the legs

  • Numbness, tingling, or burning in the legs

  • Severe pain

  • Weight loss, night sweats, loss of appetite, and tiredness

  • Trouble with urinating or bowel movements or numbness in the genital area

Risk factors

  • History of cancer

  • Recent infection

  • Decreased ability to fight infection (suppressed immune system)

  • Intravenous (IV) drug use

  • Osteoporosis (weakened bones)

  • Long-term use of steroid medicine

  • Recent serious accident or injury

How Goodpath Can Help

There are many causes of low back pain.  With treatment, it is possible to lessen the pain or even stop it altogether. 

GoodPath uses an integrative, personalized treatment approach for low back pain. Our back pain program includes therapeutic video exercises, mind-body techniques, home-delivered supplements and medicines, and nutritional support. You will also have the support of one of our Goodpath coaches.

The first step is to complete our brief assessment. Based on your responses, we will tailor a back pain program just for you. Why don’t you get started?