Beyond the Obvious – Uncommon Causes of Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common complaints among adults, with about 80% of people experiencing it at some point in their lives. While many of the patients I see attribute their back pain to factors such as poor posture, age, and injuries, there are other uncommon causes of back pain that can be just as debilitating. It is important to be aware of these uncommon causes of back pain, and what can be done to prevent or treat them. 

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint is where the lower part of the spine meets the pelvis, and it helps support the weight of the upper body and legs. If this joint becomes inflamed or doesn’t work properly, it can cause pain in the lower back that spreads down to the legs. Sometimes people think this is the result of sciatica or other common back issues, but it’s actually caused by the sacroiliac joint.

To treat this kind of pain, physical therapy and exercises that target the muscles around the joint can help. In more severe cases, injections with corticosteroids may be necessary to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that mainly affects the spine, causing the bones to grow together and leading to chronic pain and stiffness in the back. This condition is more common in men than women and often starts in early adulthood. You will notice it most in the morning and after periods of inactivity.

Medication that reduces inflammation and physical therapy are used to treat ankylosing spondylitis. If the condition becomes very severe, surgery may be needed to correct any deformities caused by the disease.

Spinal Tumors

Spinal tumors are another one of the uncommon causes of back pain. These tumors can grow inside the spinal cord or surrounding tissues, causing compression and nerve damage. Spinal tumors can cause a range of symptoms, including back pain, numbness, weakness, and difficulty walking.

Treatment for spinal tumors typically involves surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation or chemotherapy to prevent recurrence. Early detection and treatment are critical for improving outcomes involving spinal tumors.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects the muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body. This condition can cause widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. The back is a common area for this pain to manifest because the back is full of muscles for Fibromyalgia to target. There is also a risk of arthritis in the affected areas, which will cause wear-and-tear, thus leading to pain.

Fibromyalgia treatments usually involve a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to reduce pain and improve quality of life. Patients with fibromyalgia may also benefit from stress management techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy to manage the emotional impact of the condition.

Back Pain Triggers

Lack of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being, but it can also play a role in back pain. Lack of sleep can cause muscle tension and increase stress levels, both of which can lead to back pain.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble sleeping, try establishing a bedtime routine, such as avoiding coffee and electronics before bed.

Emotional Stress

Another uncommon cause of back pain is emotional stress. Stress can cause muscle tension and increase inflammation. Find ways to manage stress, such as practicing yoga or deep breathing exercises.


Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and spasms. When the body is dehydrated, it can also decrease the amount of fluid in the spinal discs, which can increase the risk of disc herniation. The amount will vary based on your age, weight, and activity level, but aim for at least eight glasses of water each day.

Poor Diet

A diet high in processed foods and sugar can cause inflammation throughout the body. This is another uncommon cause of back pain. It is best to eat a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and leafy green vegetables too.

Wearing High Heels

High heels are often considered an uncommon cause of back pain, but they can actually alter the alignment of the spine, leading to several degenerative changes over time. They put significant pressure on the feet and calves, leading to muscle tension that can contribute to lower back pain. To avoid back pain caused by high heels, it is recommended to limit the amount of time wearing high heels or opt for flat shoes. Choosing shoes with good arch support and cushioning can help maintain good posture and reduce pressure on the lower back.

Rare Causes of Back Pain

The Obvious Choice for Back Pain Relief

If you’re experiencing back pain, our expert team has extensive experience identifying and treating less common spinal issues, which can greatly affect your quality of life. As a highly accredited medical professional with over 20 years of experience in treating spinal conditions, I am committed to educating my patients and providing personalized treatment plans that reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve their overall quality of life. 

With a personalized approach to care and a commitment to patient education, we believe we can provide you with the best possible treatment for your specific condition. So, don’t let back pain caused by unusual circumstances hold you back – schedule a consultation with us today. 

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