June 17, 2024

The Different Locations of Discogenic Back Pain & What They Mean


Back pain can stem from a variety of factors, ranging from daily activities to more severe underlying medical conditions. Properly identifying the cause of your back pain is crucial to its effective treatment. Common culprits include poor posture, physical stress, lifting heavy items, and degenerative conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis. Other causes like infection, injury, or disease can also result in back pain. Determining the root cause of your back pain can guide you towards the most suitable treatment.

At ATLAS, we believe in holistic treatment. It is not just about ]managing your symptoms, but truly understanding the cause of your ailments, and working alongside you to tailor an approach that helps by building good habits and enhancing your overall well-being. Our approach involves chiropractic care and a comprehensive methodology. We work with you to provide lifestyle advice and equip you to actively improve your health.

In this article, we look at how the location and type of pain can indicate the root causes and how chiropractic care can help you with back pain.

Location of Back Pain

A doctor often begins by asking where the back pain is located. The cause can be significantly indicated by the pain's location. Understanding where your back pain is located is crucial in determining an effective treatment.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain typically occurs near the waist or the lumbar region. It's a common issue caused by various factors. The most usual causes of lower back pain include:

  1. Poor posture: This can place extra strain on the lower back muscles, resulting in pain and discomfort.
  2. Lifting heavy objects: The weight puts excessive pressure on the lower back muscles.
  3. Lack of exercise: This can lead to weak lower back muscles, increasing susceptibility to pain and injury.
  4. Muscle strain: This happens when lower back muscles are overworked or overstretched, leading to pain and discomfort.
  5. Underlying medical condition: Lower back pain can be associated with conditions like herniated discs, sciatica, or a spinal injury.

Middle Back Pain

Middle back pain is typically located in the centre of the spine and can commonly result from:

  1. Muscle strain due to overuse or injury: This can occur from lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive motions, leading to mid-back discomfort.
  2. Poor ergonomics: Engaging in awkward postures or maintaining the same position for extended periods can strain muscles, causing tension and soreness in the mid-back region.
  3. Underlying medical conditions: Conditions such as arthritis, muscle strain, or rib injuries are often associated with middle back pain.

Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain typically originates in the thoracic spine, situated between the neck and lower back. It can be caused by:

  1. Poor Posture: This can lead to muscle imbalances, overworking and straining the muscles in the upper back.
  2. Joint Dysfunction: Misalignment of the joints in the upper back can result in pain.
  3. Underlying Medical Conditions: Conditions such as a pinched nerve, heart attack, fibromyalgia, gallbladder issues, liver disease, and osteoarthritis are often linked to upper back pain.

Types of Back Pain

Understanding the nature of pain is a key factor in effectively treating it. It's not just about the location of the pain, but also about understanding its diversity in terms of types and intensities. Pain can be sharp, dull, constant, intermittent, or even a combination of these. By grasping these different aspects, healthcare professionals can devise more effective treatment plans that are tailored to the specific needs and conditions of the patient. Here are some common types of pain and their causes.

1.   Feeling stiff or sore

Tight or sore muscles can happen in all regions of the back. It can be caused by

  • Overstraining during exercise: these muscles during exercise or other activities can make them tense.
  • Prolonged periods of mobile or computer use: Neck strain often occurs due to extending the neck forward or down for prolonged periods while using a computer or mobile device.
  • Weight gain or pregnancy: can put excess pressure on the area.
  • Weak core muscles or poor posture: may force back muscles to compensate.

2.   Sudden, sharp pain

If you have a sudden or sharp pain, it could mean that you have:

  • A pinched or irritated nerve in the spine: This type of nerve pain often follows the path of the nerve, so it may feel like it's shooting down your shoulder or into your arm if it originates from your neck.
  • Sciatica: In the lower back and buttocks, this pain is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve that travels through the buttocks and down the back or side of the leg.
  • Spinal stenosis: This is the narrowing of the spinal column, often in the neck or lower back, which puts pressure on the spinal cord and can trigger sharp, shooting pain.
  • Osteoarthritis: This degenerative joint disease can lead to nerve irritation and sudden, sharp pains.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This condition, in which a vertebra in the spine slips forward on the bone below it, can cause sudden, sharp pain.

3.   Persistent pain, numbness or weakness

Persistent pain, numbness, or weakness can be caused by:

  • Pressure on a nerve from a herniated disc: Also known as a slipped disc, this occurs when the cushioned part of a disc is forced through a weakened area.
  • Spondylolisthesis: A condition in which a vertebra in the spine slips forward on the bone below it.

4.   Intermittent pain that worsens with activity

Intermittent pain that worsens with activity can be caused by:

  • Inflammatory back pain: This is typically a result of inflammation in the joints of the spine and can appear and disappear throughout the day. It often becomes worse with physical activity and can be alleviated by rest or lying down.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: This type of arthritis can cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together, leading to inflammatory back pain.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Certain autoimmune diseases can lead to inflammatory back pain.
  • Infections: Certain infections can cause intermittent pain that worsens with activity.
  • Other causes: Include kidney infection, kidney stones, endometriosis and tumors.

Chiropractic Care For Back Pain

Chiropractic care is an excellent option for those suffering from back pain. Chiropractors use a combination of manual adjustments, therapeutic exercises, and lifestyle advice to help improve the range of motion and reduce pain in the spine and surrounding muscles. Chiropractic adjustments can help restore proper joint function, improve posture, reduce muscle tension, helping reduce pain. In addition, chiropractors can advise on lifestyle changes to help reduce the likelihood of future episodes of back pain. If you are suffering from upper, middle or lower back pain, then chiropractic care may be the answer to help you find relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is the most common cause of lower back pain?

A1: The most common causes of lower back pain are poor posture, lifting heavy objects, lack of exercise, muscle strain, and underlying medical conditions such as herniated discs, sciatica, or a spinal injury.

Q2: What could be the cause of my middle back pain?

A2: Middle back pain is often caused by muscle strain due to overuse or injury, poor ergonomics when performing physical activities, and underlying medical conditions such as arthritis, muscle strain, or a rib injury.

Q3: Why is my upper back hurting?

A3: Upper back pain is often caused by poor posture, underlying medical conditions like a pinched nerve, heart attack, fibromyalgia, gallbladder problems, liver disease and osteoarthritis, or joint dysfunction when the joints in the upper back become misaligned and cause pain.

Q4: What types of back pain can chiropractic care treat?

A4: Chiropractic care can relieve all types of back pain, no matter where it is located. By understanding the different locations of back pain and its causes, chiropractors can provide the right treatment for your specific needs.


In conclusion, the location of your back pain can be a useful indicator of the cause of your pain and what care option may be most effective. Fortunately, chiropractic care can relieve all types of back pain, no matter where it is located. By understanding the different locations of back pain and its causes, you can work with your chiropractor to find the right treatment for your specific needs.


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