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  • Dr. James Fonner

Lower Back Pain When Walking: What Are the Causes and How Is It Treated?

There is no "good" type of back pain, but having an achy lower back is one of the most uncomfortable of all. The most frustrating part of any discomfort is not understanding the cause and feeling powerless, therefore, you cannot do anything about it.

The question of what is causing the pain, how to get rid of it, and how to avoid it in the first place and valid questions asked by sufferers across the country, who simply want to enjoy an ache-free life.

It often happens that people experience growing pains at the base of their spine after walking or after standing for some time and can't figure out why. This article looks into the possible reasons a person may suffer from lower back pain when walking and the various remedies and treatment options.

Causes of lower back pain when walking

Back Pain In General

Back pain can rear its ugly head in many forms. It can materialize as a dull persistent ache, shooting discomfort, or can feel like burning or stabbing. The type of sensation patients are feeling can help a doctor diagnose the root cause, so any pain experienced should be carefully and accurately reported.

There are so many possibilities as to what can be causing discomfort, from serious health issues to behavioral habits to general wear and tear.

Understanding the different ways aches can present themselves and the basic root of what causes it can help see a clearer solution for how to treat it.

Types of Back Pain

Most back issues fall into one of the following categories:

  • Muscle pain (through strain or injury)

  • Nerve-based pain

  • Spinal problems

  • Joint pain (between the hips and spine)

  • Time taking its course

  • Deeper underlying issues

Each variation can be superficial or serious, which is why it is important to be wary of any form of back pain. The back contains the spine, which is the central support for the entire body, so the health and physical condition it is kept in is essential to maintain a high quality of life.

Chronic Pain vs. Acute Pain

Furthermore, symptoms classify as either "acute back pain" or "chronic back pain."

Acute pain refers to symptoms that appear suddenly and last for less than six weeks. People sometimes mistakenly believe acute pain is less serious than chronic pain. Acute back pain is often extremely distressing and can lead to consequential suffering down the line, for example, damage to a spinal disc, a break, or a torn ligament.

Chronic pain is a long-lasting issue that often plagues a patient for life. In many cases, chronic back pain is incurable and must be controlled through ongoing medical advice and treatment, for example, fibromyalgia or Osteoarthritis.

The main difference between the two is that acute pain is sudden and intense, often immediately treatable, and leaves no long-term symptoms if efficiently handled. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is gradual, dull, potentially progressive, and can last for many years after the fact.

What Are the Common Side-Effects of Back Pain?

The long-term effects and immediate symptoms associated with back pain form a kaleidoscope of problems. Some of these issues include:

  • Difficulty moving from a standing to a seated position and vice versa

  • Spasms around the hips and lower spine

  • Restricted movement

  • Stiff joints

  • Discomfort when trying to exercise

  • Muscles may become weaker

  • Weight gain because of reduced mobility

  • Unable to walk far or unassisted

Most side effects are manageable when medically reviewed and monitored regularly. A doctor may recommend any number of long-term care plans, which should be followed for the benefit of physical and mental health.

A patient knowing and understanding their symptoms well makes it easier for doctors to diagnose quickly and efficiently.

Lower Back Pain

Low back pain can be truly debilitating, both short and long-term. The lower back puts up with a lot in a lifetime and is an integral part of how the human body moves and supports itself. When something goes wrong in this area of the body, as it often does, a person's quality of life can be deeply affected.

Luckily, much research has been carried out on the causes and cures for this type of ailment and the advances in treatments have grown impressively over the last decade. In medicine, knowledge is power, and that knowledge is helping millions of patients maintain a good quality of life despite their pain.

Lower Back Pain When Walking

A common problem is discomfort in the lower back area when walking or standing.

The discs that separate each of the vertebrae in the human spine act like tiny protective cushions. They can become aggravated if overworked, and like a deflated chair cushion after extended use, lose their effectiveness. As they tire, they become inflamed, which is enough to cause discomfort on its own, but they also leave the vertebrae with less efficient protection.

What Are Some Possible Causes of Lower Back Pain When Walking?

There are so many possible causes, that an investigating doctor may have to consider a combination of factors to come up with a diagnosis. Let us look at some of the most common causes of lower back pain when walking or standing.

Poor Posture

A shocking number of people suffer from lower back pain as a result of nothing more than poor posture. Not knowing how to properly sit or stand leads to many issues with joints, leg pain, fatigued muscles and ligaments, and chronic back problems.

Often a person who spends many hours sitting, for example, an office worker, suffers from lower back pain when they eventually get up to walk around. This is because of reduced blood flow around the body and awkward angles forced upon their joints from hours staying in the same position.

The same goes for a person standing for a long time. Gradually, shoulders drop, the spine relaxes, and your entire body is trying to hold itself in a very bad position.

If standing for a while, a reminder to do some light exercise or stretching every 15 minutes or so may help reduce stiffness and discomfort.

Poor posture is one of the leading causes of back problems amongst 20 to 35-year-olds thanks to computers and modern screen culture.

How To Resolve Poor Posture:

  • Buy a chair with good lumbar support

  • When standing, move around as much as possible

  • Try not to go against the natural curve of the spine

  • Keep your weight and posture evenly distributed across both feet

  • Break up periods of walking and sitting regularly with light exercise

Muscle Fatigue

Tired muscles are arguable the most common culprit, as they are at the core of so many lower back issues. Luckily, they are also the easiest problem to solve.

There are also mays to avoid sore back muscles, to begin with.

The overweight population is particularly at risk of this issue, so losing weight makes a huge difference. Physical exercise for everyone is beneficial to keep the muscles around your lower pack strong and resistant to fatigue. Also, regular stretching exercises before and during a walk are beneficial.

Maintaining a healthy weight and diet can solve a host of back problems. A balanced lifestyle can help reduce the risk of weight-related diseases, strain injuries, and excessive stress on your joints.

Simple Ways to Relieve Tired, Achy Lower-back Muscles:

  • Have a seat or lie down to let them rest

  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, for example)

  • Doing some simple stretches to increase blood flow

  • Press with an ice pack or a hot water bottle


Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve gets compressed or pinched resulting in what is usually described as a hot-shooting pain through the lower back and into the legs.

Patients have also reported sensations similar to a small electric shock, leaving tingling and numbness up and down the spine and into the legs.

The root cause of Sciatica is related to the spine, most often a herniated disk or overgrown vertebrae. In some rare cases, the compression is caused by a tumor or as a result of diabetes-related damage.

Some of the Treatment Options for Sciatica:

  • NSAIDs combined with steroid injections for pain relief

  • X-ray or other scans to determine the exact source of the problem

  • Physical therapy

  • Therapeutic injections

  • Anti-seizure treatment

  • Hot and cold therapy, mixing ice packs for pain relief and hot compresses for blood flow

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis causes the spinal canal to narrow. This condition increases the pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves surrounding it. It results from unavoidable wear and tear, medically referred to as osteoarthritis.

Degradation commonly happens around the neck or at the bottom of the spine. Some people show no symptoms, and for others, they increase gradually.

The most notable sign of Spinal Stenosis is shooting pain in the legs and lumbar region, which shows up quickly after the patient starts walking or standing. A person suffering from it is unlikely to manage to walk far and may sit leaning forward to help relieve pressure on the lower back.

How to Deal With Spinal Stenosis:

  • Physical therapy is the primary course of action

  • A course of muscle strengthening exercises to help support the spine

  • Anti-inflammatory and steroid injections

  • A doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment option if pressure levels on the spine and nerves are deemed dangerous

Clogged Arteries

The natural association between arteries and poor health is the cardiac system. However, clogged arteries are a major contributor to lower back pain in patients who are obese.

The arteries around the base of the back are some of the first to become blocked, meaning back pain in an overweight person could be an early warning side of impending heart problems. This is as good a reason as there has ever been to lose weight.

Diet and exercise can help unclog arteries, improve circulation, reduce back, joints, and leg pain, and put the patient in a far better medical health position.

Simple Ways To Lose Weight and Reduce Back Pain at the Same Time

  • Walk as far and as often as you can

  • Exercise at least half an hour a day, even if it is light

  • Follow a reasonable and sustainable diet plan

  • Ask a medical professional for some simple physical therapy stretches and exercises to keep the blood flowing through to the muscles

  • Join a support group or ask friends or family to push you toward success

Strain or Injuries

The human body has a lot of connecting parts and, although robust, is not invincible. Back injuries happen in the strangest of moments and often in the least dramatic of fashions.

The most common way for a person to slip a disc in their spine is by picking up a heavy box. Patients with pulled muscles frequently report doing it simply by turning too fast.

The moral of the story is that accidents happen and the lower back often pays the price. Not every situation requires medical support and many aches go away on their own, but something like a slipped disc or a torn ligament near the spine is worth the trip.

After a severe back strain of any kind, the patient should avoid walking or standing and should move as little as possible until a medical assessment has been completed. The spine is a sensitive and irreplaceable part of the human body, so must be protected at all costs.

Possible Treatment for Lower Back Damage:

  • Physical therapy may help in many cases where ligaments have torn or pulled

  • If the spine is damaged, a more intense form of therapies could be required

  • The most basic strains may simply require taking the weight off for a few days to a few weeks

  • In extreme cases, surgery could be necessary, or therapy to regain the ability to walk

When do you need to see a doctor?

When do You Need To See a Doctor?

Extended periods of walking or standing can speed up this process, which, if left unchecked, can evolve into a deeper problem.

Anyone who repeatedly suffers from lower back pain during or after a walk should seek medical advice.

If Pain Increases

If manageable pain becomes worse rather than better after a strain, the afflicted area should be medically reviewed. Many lower back injuries are very treatable and can be cured entirely through physical therapy exercises and pain management.

If, however, it is ignored and allowed to go on untreated, the body could take much longer to heal if it heals at all.

Change of Sensation

A doctor should also be consulted if the type of sensation changes. An ongoing back problem that had always manifested as a dull ache that suddenly turns to stabbing pains is cause for concern.

If the discomfort becomes more intense or more consistent, particularly at night or in a lying-down position, seeing a doctor is advisable.

The same applies if the feeling spreads from the back into the limbs. If it reaches past the knees, it can signify something deeper than a lower back issue.

Abnormal Discomfort

Patients who are not prone to back problems and have newly been noticing discomfort of any kind should consider asking for advice. An early diagnosis of a deeper problem can be life-changing.

Sudden Weight Loss

If unexpected sudden weight loss happens simultaneously with discomfort in the lower back, it can be a sign of something serious and should be seen by a doctor.


When back pain leads to a tingling sensation or numbness around the body- especially the legs- it can point to issues related to the spine- something a doctor should inspect as soon as possible.

If the spine is damaged in some way, early detection is vital. The more a patient is free to walk around with a damaged spine the more potential for permanent long-term damage.


A swollen or red back can hint at an internal infection. Infections around this area can wreak havoc on the body, and early detection may help avoid other issues.

Additionally, anyone with a cancer history, either personally or in the immediate family should have back problems assed as a precaution.

Final Thoughts

Lower back pain that appears when walking can be attributed to many things.

For someone who is relatively healthy, focusing on posture and keeping the muscles strong should be the first course of action for moderate discomfort.

Keeping the blood flowing smoothly by stretching regularly, and resting an achy body after a long walk is enough to combat most cases of muscle fatigue.

Overweight patients should discuss a diet plan with their doctors. Although walking may cause sore spots, regular exercise can turn a host of health and weight issues around.

For chronic sufferers, ongoing therapy and treatment can keep pain levels manageable, but if something suddenly changes they should contact their medical advisor or the best chiropractor in Columbus Ohio.

Back pain affects an astonishing percentage of the population. Controlling weight, training muscles, practicing good posture, and protecting the spine can all go a long way to minimizing any major issues.

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