8 Common Risk Factors of Low Back Pain

An image of a man holding his lower back

Low back pain is an epidemic in the United States. At any given moment, nearly 65 million American adults will have recently experienced lower back pain. Over 80% of the population will experience low back pain (LBP) at some point in their lifetime. Back pain is one of the leading causes of missed work and the sixth most costly condition in the U.S., totaling between $100-200 billion in lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses each year.

Chronic low back pain can be disabling. Defined as pain that lasts longer than three months at a time or reoccurs, chronic LBP is the second most common cause of disability in the U.S.. 

What’s more, low back pain has a detrimental effect on mental health. A study conducted using WHO data found that chronic back pain is associated with “increased likelihood of depression, psychosis, anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances.”

If you or a loved one experiences pain in the lower back, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. By addressing causes and symptoms early on, you may be able to reduce the risk of experiencing a long-term condition.

There are many preexisting conditions and situational factors that can contribute to your chance of experiencing acute or chronic low back pain. By limiting your exposure (if possible), you may be able to prevent future injury. Let’s take a look at some common risk factors below. 

8 Risk Factors of Low Back Pain


Adults over the age of 30 are more likely to experience low back pain. The risk increases with age, as loss of bone density and muscle elasticity can contribute to heightened risk of injury. Conditions associated with aging such as osteoporosis are directly linked to low back pain.


Being obese/overweight can add strain to the back muscles and spinal discs, increasing the risk of experiencing a back injury. Eating a nutritious diet with plenty of Vitamin D and calcium can help promote bone density and prevent injury. 


Jobs that put significant, routine pressure on the back can increase the risk of experiencing a lower back injury or chronic pain. Repetitive movements, bending, and heavy lifting can all contribute to new or existing injuries. 

Fitness Level

Exercises that increase abdominal strength and promote flexibility, such as walking, swimming, running, weight lifting, pilates, yoga, and biking are all recommended to reduce the risk of back injury. Even moderate exercise, such as a daily walk, can prevent injury.

Being sedentary

Regularly sitting for long-periods of time, whether at work in or in leisure, harms posture and weakens the back. This is proven to drastically increase the risk of low back pain.

Genetic or Preexisting Conditions

Certain conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, scoliosis, or being pregnant, can contribute to low back pain. 


Smoking is directly connected to low back pain. Smoking reduces blood flow to lumbar discs, reduces regeneration, causes inflammation, and impairs immune function. 


Recent studies have found that recurrent low back pain is a symptom for many people who suffer from the coronavirus. This is a common symptom of viral infections and inflammatory conditions, which often result in widespread body aches and myalgia (muscle pain).

Experiencing Lower Back Pain?

Reducing or eliminating these risk factors can limit your chance of experiencing low back pain, but anyone can still suffer from an unexpected back injury. Have acute or chronic pain in your back? Read about injuries associated with low back pain here.

If you or a loved one has sustained a back injury in the Louisville, Kentucky-area, board certified sports medicine physician Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC can help. Orthopaedic Specialists is currently accepting new patients, and same day/telemedicine appointments are also available. For additional information or to schedule an appointment today, call 502-212-2663.