Causes of Lower Back Pain In Men

Hopefully Its Just A Soft Tissue Injury, But Sometimes Your Lower Back Pain Is The Symptom Of An Altogether Different Problem....

In This Article –

  • Causes of Lower Back Pain In Men
  • ‘Mechanical Back Pain’
  • When is Lower Back Pain a Sign Of Something Even More Sinister?

There Are Many Causes Of Lower Back Pain In Men. Many Are Just Muscle Strains In The Lower Back, But A Few Are Signs Of Something Much More Serious. Do You Know The Potential Causes Of Lower back Pain In Men?

Causes of Lower Back Pain In Men.

Assuming you haven’t just suffered an obvious spinal trauma in something such as a car accident, then when analyzing the causes of lower back pain in men, by far the most likely cause is from excessive strain, muscle injury or bad posture.

Statistically men are far more likely to suffer lower back pain from trying to lift too much without correct posture, than any other reason. Part of the reason for this is that many of the most physical jobs that are particularly prone to causing back strains are traditionally dominated by men (builders/ labourers).

Mechanical Back Pain

Termed ‘mechanical’ back pain, this strain/ injury to what is essentially the framework for the rest of the body, can be particularly debilitating, stopping individuals even managing to get out of bed in the morning.

It can produce both anything from a dull ache to a searing pain while just doing everyday activities such as sitting in a chair/ getting out of bed etc.

It is perhaps then no surprise that the frequency of lower back pain makes it the number one reason for long-term disability in adults.

An Image Of A Man With A Lower Back That Is On Fire, To Demonstrate A High Level Of Lower Back Pain

Mechanical Back Pain.

Unfortunately, whilst being very common, mechanical back pain is also probably the most complex source of pain and therefore frequently the hardest to treat.

The vast network of nerves protected by and surrounding the spinal column mean that surgery is frequently not the best option.

The real risk of surgical intervention permanently damaging the nerves/ tissues that the spinal cord is designed to protect will often far outweigh the potential benefits of the surgery.

There are occasions, for example with a slipped disc, where an open spinal discectomy may be a very viable option, but even this risks destabilizing the spine.

Modern advances in surgery have also presented a range of decompressions/ fusions as other options – please click here for more on your options from Bupa on the specifics of available spinal surgery. Alternatively, check out our review of all the types of lower back surgery procedures and when you might need them.

Simple treatment for mechanical back pain

More often than not however, the best treatment for an unspecified lower back pain is actually rest and relaxation.

By ‘rest’ however, I should clarify that is not sitting down all day or laying in bed for a week. Studies have proven recently that light activities are far better than complete ‘bed rest’ for lower back pain.

This is because stopping all activities only encourages further muscle tightening and some wastage.

However light activities allow your muscles to recover, while keeping them active. This is often best with the help of a hot compress or a short-term painkiller, to keep discomfort to a minimum pain so you able to continue functioning on most levels.

Visiting a doctor

However, if this does not work and the pain is not getting better, then a trip to the local doctor may be in order.

An X-ray, CT or MRI scan (normally a combination of) may be used to ascertain the root cause of the problem. Where the pain levels are more extreme, an epidural or steroid injection may be administered to the affected area if surgery is not feasible.

There is a big difference in lower back pain between being very painful and being very dangerous. Clear diagnosis wherever possible however, is a good thing to put your mind at rest, This is because, although it is statistically very rare, there are occasions when your back pain may not in fact be the root cause of the problem.

There is a big difference (when suffering with lower back pain) between an injury that is very painful and a disease causing back pain that is very dangerous.

Clear diagnosis whenever possible is always a good thing to put your mind at rest because, although it is statistically very rare, there are occasions when your back pain may not in fact be the root cause of the problem.

Alternative Causes Of Lower Back Pain In Men (The Scary Ones)…

Below is a list of some of the various problems where back pain is a symptom, but not the main cause. Please check out our page on Lower Back Pain Red Flags for information on the warning signs to look out for.

Kidney Stones

It is estimated that up to 95% of men with a family history of kidney stones are likely to suffer with them. Kidney stones form when the body turns food in to a piece of solid crystal (kidney stone) that form in the urinary tract and can cause intense pain.

Lower back pain is one very common symptom indicating the presence of kidney stones. Successful treatment then is through targeting of the kidney stones, rather than traditional rest that only targets overworked muscles. Since treatment for kidney stones can vary according to the type of stone (calcium, uric acid, struvite or cystine), a trip to your local doctor is essential.

Prostate Problems

An enlarged prostate, either due to infection or even more serious problem (including prostate cancer) can cause lower back pain in men. It can be difficult to assess exactly when pain from a prostrate is the cause of back pain – so it is probably best to apply the rules in ‘when to see a GP’ and work from there.


Because of the lower spines’ close proximity to so many vital organs, there are multiple types of cancer that could result in back pain – and produce many different feelings of back pain as a result. Perhaps the most common indication is a back pain that grows steadily, unaffected by body position (resting or in motion), but is worse at night.

Spinal Infection

One of the hardest to detect, especially as the infection could easily be based somewhere else and affecting the spine as a direct result of it’s close proximity. It is defined by deep, constant pain but can be treated by medical professionals.

There are also three other, even rarer problems that may cause back pain, where the back pain itself is merely a symptom, not the root cause of the problem –

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is caused by severe inflammation of the joint between the spine and the pelvis. If left untreated the vertebrae may actually fuse with each other. Unlike many forms of back pain, this is not likely to be age-dependent, having been known to start as early as 17. This affects men substantially more than women.

Abdominal Aneurysm

Mostly affecting the elderly, overweight or smokers, this is defined as the ‘ballooning’ of a large artery immediately adjacent to the spine.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

A pinch in the lower spinal chord, this will be agony, but it is perhaps easier to recognise than many others – causing numbness around the groin and frequently either incontinence or a difficulty to go to the toilet. Sometimes this can be as a result of another disease itself such as cancer or a trauma to the spine.

The Final Word –

While the causes of lower back pain in men are normally nothing too sinister and the injuries will heal themselves in a matter of days with rest and relaxation, it is not always the case. Sometimes, your lower back pain is not the actual problem – it is just a symptom of another internal problem.

This is frequently where your sex is relevant in assessing the possible problems that could be causing the pain. The good news is that many of these pain sources can be treated – but getting to a doctor quickly can be essential in ensuring the best treatment. 

So when do you visit a doctor? Click here to read about ‘When to see a Doctor with lower Back Pain’

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References –

1. Bupa –

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