Causes of Back Pain

There are many causes of back pain, both developmental and congenital. In Sarah Key's most popular book 'The Back Sufferers' Bible' she proposes how a non-pathological, still reversible, simple 'function fault' back problem can become a chronic cause of back pain.

Sarah also explains that once the cause of back pain progresses from simple to more complex, it becomes less reversible and much more difficult for you to work your way out of. 

The vast majority (over 90%) of lower back pain cases go by the name of 'low back pain of unknown aetiology' or 'non-specific low back pain', or just simply 'simple back pain'. With these cases, there there is no commonly accepted diagnostic model and no nuts-and-bolts explanation for the causes of back pain. This is both good and bad news.


Spinal compression is the root cause of most back pain


With non-specific back pain all objective investigations (the clinical picture, spinal movements, MRIs, CTs X-rays and blood tests) reveal nothing extraordinary. You may be in agony, yet the common response is: 'We don't really know why'. 

See The Back Sufferers' Bible For An Explanation of the 5 Stages of Segmental Breakdown


the causes of back pain unravelled

The Hypothesis of Reversible Discogenic Low back Pain

With sustained compression the lumbar discs lose fluid. Cumulative dehydration causes bunching down of the tough lattice mesh of the outer disc wall (annulus fibrosis) making the low lumbar discs less compliant and more vulnerable to incidental jarring and wrenching with everyday movement. 

Micro-damage of the outer disc wall causes its own sort of ‘disc pain’. This part of the disc is ligamentous and the only part to have both a blood and nerve supply - though a scant one and to the disc periphery only. 


Disc blood supply is limited outer layers of the disc wall. This is the only part of the disc to 'feel' pain - but having blood it is also the 'repairable' part.   (Adams)


Even minor damage to the outer ligamentous 'skin' of an otherwise healthy disc can create a local inflammatory response - and pain. This is the most likely explanation for non-specific back pain - and the first clue in solving the universal mystery of 'simple' back pain .

You can see this process described here in a 2012 edition of the journal 'Physical Therapy Reviews' paper co-authored by Sarah and eminent spinal researchers from University of Bristol UK, Professor Michael Adams, and Dr Manos Stefanakis, now at University of Nicosia, Cyprus. 

You may be interested to click here, to see what Professor Adams says about using a proper scientific approach to understanding the causes of back pain, where he also says it should be 'explained, not explained away'.



Understanding how the back feels pain and the structures involved is an important part of getting better. You can watch Sarah Key describing this important information face-to-face on video. See here to download

The Three Videos below are all Part of
the Important 'Causes of back pain' video package



'The Back Sufferers' Bible' is easy to read and tells you all about what you can do yourself. It is the market leader in both the UK and Australia. You may be interested to read some readers reviews on Amazon.co.uk from others who have gone before you.

Lots more information on the causes of back pain

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Upper Back Pain When Breathing

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What To Do About Shoulder Pain When Breathing

Back Pain With Sitting

Back Pain Medication

Back Spasms

Back Pain With Deadlifts

Shearers' Back Pain

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Sketch of man holding lower back in pain with product relief information using exercise

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