Familiarizing yourself with the possible causes of your lower back pain can help you better communicate with your doctor, which in turn may lead to both a quicker diagnosis and earlier recovery.

See Diagnosing the Cause of Lower Back Pain

woman at doctor consultation It is especially important to receive a correct diagnosis if your back pain lasts longer than 6 to 12 weeks. See Diagnosing Lower Back Pain

With this in mind, here is what you need to know about 3 lesser-known causes of lower back pain:

See Lower Back Pain Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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1. Stress

It is no secret that back pain can lead to stress—but you might be surprised to learn that stress can be the primary cause of lower back pain.

See Stress-Related Back Pain

If stress is found to be the primary cause of your lower back pain, it is classified as a psychosomatic condition. A psychosomatic condition means that your symptoms were prompted by emotional and/or psychological factors, or that these factors are responsible for the continuation of your symptoms.

See The Diagnosis of Stress-Related Back Pain

While there are competing theories as to how exactly stress causes lower back pain, most of these theories share in common the idea that psychological and/or emotional factors produce some type of physical change that results in your lower back pain.

See How Does Stress Cause Back Pain?

Common sources of stress include money-related problems, a drastic life change (such as moving to a new city), or a strained personal relationship.

See Treatments for Stress-Related Back Pain

2. Poor posture is an overlooked cause of lower back pain

Poor sitting posture places strain on your spine and the surrounding muscles. As a result, the actual anatomical characteristics of your spine may be altered. This can lead to constricted nerves, as well as other problems with soft tissues, discs, and joints. Additionally, the act of sitting places more stress on your lumbar spine than standing, and sitting with poor posture adds even more stress, so you may aggravate your existing lower back issues (such as a herniated disc).

See Good Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain

Examples of common posture mistakes while sitting at the office include:

  • Slumping your shoulders and head forward
  • Ignoring your chair’s lumbar support
  • Looking down at a screen for an extended period of time

See Identifying Incorrect Posture

Even if you sit with good posture, it’s a smart idea to get up and move around every 30 minutes. This will help relieve the stress on your lower back and encourage blood flow.

See Office Chair, Posture, and Driving Ergonomics

3. Lack of sleep

While a lack of sleep might not be the primary cause of your lower back pain, it may be a significant contributing factor.

Watch: Insomnia and Back Pain Video

Here is how it works. First, chronic back pain can make it difficult to fall asleep. And in turn this lack of sleep can further aggravate your chronic pain—and so you find yourself stuck in a frustrating, painful cycle. On top of this, a lack of sleep can also affect your cognitive functioning and weaken your immune system.

See Chronic Pain and Insomnia: Breaking the Cycle

One simple way to combat this problem is to practice good sleep hygiene, which includes the following:

  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day
  • Avoiding caffeine before bed
  • Avoiding the use of electronics in bed
  • Avoiding naps during the day

See Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene

If you suspect one of the above lesser-known causes is provoking your lower back pain, your doctor will likely recommend low-impact aerobic exercise as part of your treatment plan.

See Exercise and Fitness to Help Your Back

This can include walking, biking, or using an elliptical machine to spur the release of pain-fighting endorphins and encourage the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the area.

See Exercise Walking for Better Back Health

Learn more:

Ten Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics

Easy Exercise Program for Low Back Pain Relief