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Top 3 Causes of Lower Back Pain & Sciatica (plus 3 self-test videos)

Updated on March 18, 2021 (Original post: Sep. 13, 2016)

If you’ve been reading my blogs and watching my videos, you probably know that there is a lot of information out there about low back pain and the various causes.

And of course, we can’t forget sciatica, everyone’s favorite type of pain. Who doesn’t love pain, numbness, and tingling running down their buttocks and legs, right?

With the myriad of information out there, I want to simplify things for you by breaking low back pain and sciatica into 3 distinct causes.

I’m going to summarize these 3 in this post, and if you’d like more information, feel free to skip straight to the videos, which are at the bottom of this post.

The first video covers an overview of the top 3 causes of lower back pain and sciatica.

And each of the subsequent three videos contains more information about that particular kind of low back pain and sciatica, and the videos also help you figure out which type of pain you have, based on some simple 30-second home tests.

Now for some more specific information…

Here are the 3 Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain and Sciatica:

1. Bulging or herniated discs

2. Degenerative/Arthritic changes (including degenerative joint disease, aka DJD, degenerative disc disease, aka DDD, and stenosis)

3. SIJ dysfunction (SIJ = Sacro-iliac joint)

And here’s a brief summary of each type of back pain (and sciatica):

1. Bulging and herniated discs: this type of low back pain and sciatica is more common in younger, more active populations. Common signs include pain radiating down into the leg(s) when bending forward or sitting, and reduced pain when standing and bending backward.

2. Degenerative types of pain: while there are many names for this (DJD, DDD, stenosis, etc.), it basically means wear and tear of the spine. Depending on the specific structures involved, you can think of it as your spine losing height. As the discs and joints start to compress and get closer together, you can experience localized pain as well as nerve/sciatic pain when nerves are compressed. The presentation is basically opposite of a bulging disc: decreased pain when bending forward and sitting, with increased pain when standing or bending backward.

3. SIJ dysfunction: and now for everyone’s favorite! The black sheep of the family that no one wants to talk about. This one is a little trickier to diagnose and treat, but it’s very common. Check out the video for more details, as this one is a bit harder to figure out!

If you have any additional questions about low back pain and sciatica or have specific questions about the self-test videos, please feel free to send me an email at!

And if you’ve been struggling with back pain and sciatica but don’t know if physical therapy is the best option to help you, ask about our free 30-minute Discovery Visit.

To Your Health,


The overview video is below, followed by the 3 self-test videos, starting with a bulging/herniated disc, followed by degenerative changes, and then followed by SIJ pain. I hope they help!

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