Causes of Lower Back Ache and Fatigue

A woman is experiencing lower back pain.
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While lumbar back ache represents one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints, lower back injuries have many different causes. Symptoms of back pain and fatigue, however, most often arise from systematic overuse of muscles. Unlike an acute muscle strain such as a lifting injury, chronic overuse that gradually becomes apparent may make diagnosis difficult. Patients need to discover the actions behind their injuries to get the self-care and medical treatment necessary to restore health.


Muscle Strain

Athletic and occupational demands may call for the strenuous use of the same muscles. When overexerted, the normally tightly bound muscle fibers release and separate. Overuse such as repeated throwing or leaning over in a stressful position for prolonged periods may cause the muscles of the lower back to pull away or tear. The Mayo Clinic reports that actions involving excessive force or undue repetition often cause fatigue and an aching type of back pain. Continuing to use the injured muscles prolongs these symptoms.


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Bone Deformity

When the spine develops a bone or disc abnormality, the local muscles, tendons and ligaments may experience stress and inflammation. The University of Maryland (UM) Medical Center reports that low-level to acute back pain results from disc and bone degeneration and from stress fractures associated with arthritis or osteoporosis. Spinal misalignment from everyday minor dislocations, called subluxations, or permanent scoliosis curvature can also produce aching and fatigue. Many cases of lower back pain may be traced to muscle strain caused by differing leg length, which places abnormal stress on some muscles and spinal tissue.


Poor Posture

When the spine is out of balance, the muscles on one side of the body have to work harder. Over time, this muscle strain can create chronic back ache and fatigue. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, poor posture commonly causes problems in the lower back. With the help of a professional evaluation, patients may credit their back problems to years of incorrect standing posture or harmful short-term sleeping positions. Sleep posture can swiftly decline when aging mattresses or pillows lose their support properties.


Infection or Cancer

According to the Cleveland Clinic, fewer than 1 percent of lumbar problems in the back arise from internal diseases. Because these rare cases may be serious, however, patients should not overlook chronic pain symptoms. The UM Medical Center includes kidney infection and ovarian cancer as possible reasons for back ache and fatigue.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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