If you’re like many active adults who enjoy exercising, you know the benefits of a good workout. But if an aching back has slowed you down or stopped your exercise routine, it’s easy to just give up and suffer physically as well as emotionally. About eight out of every 10 adults or 80 percent of Americans struggle with low back pain during some time in their lives. Unfortunately, people are often unaware of the reason for their pain. Does your back hurt, yet you’re clueless as to the cause? Here are four of the causes of your lower back pain, along with how physical therapy can help you.

Disc Herniation

One of the most painful back conditions is a disc herniation, which is also known as a herniated disc. Your spine consists of individual vertebrae with disc shaped collagen in between each bone. Picture a jelly donut with a soft center housed inside a harder exterior. A disc herniation happens when some of the “jelly-like” substance pushes through a tear in the exterior. Excruciating pain can result when a herniated disc causes irritation to nearby nerves.

Disc pain is usually works with sitting, coughing, sneezing and bending over, in addition to morning stiffness.Other signs of a more aggravated disc herniation include a tingling sensation, a radiating numbness and muscle weakness in the lower legs.

A recent study was done with people who had severe sciatica due to a disc herniation. In this study, two types treatments were given to two groups of participants. One group received directional preference exercises for their low back pain and the other received general exercises. According to the study, the participants who were given directional preference exercises showed significant neurological signs of improvement and better outcomes with leg pain. At Peak Physiotherapy and Performance, we utilize directional preference exercises to see if you will benefit from this approach at the very first session.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the vertebrae between the bones making up the spinal cord become narrow. The spinal narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. For most people, it occurs in the lower back or neck.

Spinal stenosis pain is made worse by prolonged walking and standing. The longer you walk, the worse the symptoms become until you sit down. Sitting, bending over or laying down will often relieve pain due to spinal stenosis since it take pressure off of the nerves..While some people experience pain, others have numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Back pain from degenerative disc disease is the result of normal aging of spinal discs and typically can be seen on imaging as early as age 30. Degenerative disc disease occurs in everyone, but may be worse in people who spend a lot of time on their feet or have worked manual labor for many years.

Pain due to degenerative disc disease typically does not begin until later in life. The pain may be local to the low back or shoot pain into legs, known as radicular pain. Along with these symptoms, some people experience numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.  


Unlike what many people believe, sciatica is not a disease or condition. Instead, it’s a symptom, referring to pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve path. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. In most cases, sciatica only affects one side of the body. Normally, it occurs as the result of spinal stenosis or a herniated disc.

People with sciatica have a burning pain that shoots up or down their legs. They also can have pain in the rear that may worsens when sitting. Other signs are hip pain, numbness, weakness, and difficulty in being able to move an affected leg or foot. Sciatica can have many causes and it’s important to determine the source of the problem. If you have been struggling to find the cause of your sciatic, it’s best to reach out to a medical provider skilled in determining the cause of the problem.

Other Considerations and Warnings

  • Risk factors for a herniated disc include smoking, excess body weight and having a job requiring repetitive bending, twisting, lifting, pushing and pulling. Genetics is another factor.
  • Generally, spinal stenosis affects adults 50 and older. However, it can also occur in young people who’ve experienced spinal injuries. Scoliosis, osteoarthritis and other diseases can also lead to spinal stenosis.
  • Contrary to what you may think, weightlifting can actually help a degenerative disc condition.
  • Men suffer from a herniated disc more than women, showing a 2:1 male to female ratio among adults 30-50 years of age.

Get Help for Your Lower Back Pain Today in Columbus, Ohio

Don’t continue to suffer from back pain. As an expert in treating active adults who suffer from lower back pain, I can help you get back to doing what you love! Sign up for our free guide 5 Tips to Reduce Back Pain to instantly learn ways to help alleviate pain and start moving better. If you are interested in having P3 solve your back pain problem then feel free to contact us. To treat the cause of your pain, we use a wide range of techniques that have proven successful in relieving lower back pain. For example:

  • Corrective exercise uses various positions and movements for isolating a weak area of the body.
  • Joint manipulation is used for targeting painful and stiff joints that contribute to the cause of injury for achieving a therapeutic effect.
  • Dry needling is highly effective in treating lower back pain, such as a compressed nerve. This is a treatment that uses mono-filament needles for treating myofascial trigger points in muscles.

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Junak is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board-Certified Orthopedic Specialist.  Dr. Junak received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Walsh University and completed his Orthopedic Specialist training at the Cleveland Clinic Orthopaedic Residency Program. He is the owner of Peak Physiotherapy and Performance, a physical therapy clinic in Canal Winchester, Ohio where he serves the local communities of Lancaster, Reynoldsburg, Grove City, Pickerington and Columbus. In his practice, Dr. Junak helps clients with jaw pain, neck pain, and headaches find relief without resorting to medications, injections, or surgery.

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