5 Types of Back Pain

5 types Of Back Pain: How To Determine What Kind Of Back Pain You Have

It’s estimated that up to 80% of people will experience back pain sometime in their life.

However most of the time people with back pain are all treated the same. They’re given the same advice, exercises and hands-on treatment no matter what the cause is. It’s like prescribing antibiotics for everyone that has stomach pain. There could be many different causes of stomach pain that antibiotics are not best for like food allergies, acid reflux, gallstones, and more.

So in order to fix your back pain it’s important that you first identify what type of back pain you have. Then with some help you can create a plan to address the root cause of your pain.

To help determine what kind of back pain you have I have outlined 5 common types of back.

It is important to know that this list is not exhaustive. There are many more causes of low back not listed here, but these are very common presentations. To determine your type of back pain, you should consult with a local health care practitioner.

Let’s get started!

Different types of back pain courtesy of INNOVA Integrated Wellness Centre (Read the caption)

1.) Flexion Dominant Back Pain

Flexion means bending your back, so flexion dominant back pain means you have back pain when you bend over.

Signs of this type of back pain include:

  • Your symptoms become worse when you bend over or when you sit for prolonged times
  • Standing for some time causes your symptoms to improve.
  • It may hurt when you cough or sneeze (not all people experience this).

In order to ease flexion dominant back pain it’s important to perform movements throughout the day to reduce pain. 

A Physiotherapist will be able to tell you the right exercise for your specific condition. A good stretch they may prescribe is the lumbar extension movement.

Here’s how to do this: Stand up with your feet shoulder width across. Then place your hands on your lower back and slowly bend your spine back as far as comfortable. If performing this movement helps your pain, then you may be experiencing flexion dominant back pain.

2.) Radicular Back Pain

This type of pain is a sharp shooting pain that travels down your lower back to your legs. Lower back dysfunction can cause this condition.

3.) Axial or Mechanical Back Pain

These words are used to describe more localized lower back pain. Mechanical pain is typically what you think of when it comes to back pain.

While Radicular pain can travel down your leg, mechanical pain does not usually travel very far.

Axial pain can be a sharp, throbbing, or aching pain.

4.) Middle Back Pain

This type of back pain occurs in the area of the thoracic spine below your neck and above the bottom of your rib cage.

Some of the most common symptoms of middle back pain are:

  • Dull, sharp, or stabbing pain
  • Tightness and stiffness in the muscles
  • Muscle aches
  • Burning sensation

More serious symptoms can include:

  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Pain in chest,
  • Legs, arms, or chest can tingle or feel numb.

The most common causes of middle back pain are:

  1. Poor posture habits – when you slouch for prolonged periods, the muscles and ligaments in your back have to work harder to keep you upright. This causes your muscles to become overworked leading to middle back pain and aches.

2.) Muscle strain or sprain – when lifting heavy objects with bad form you’re more susceptible to straining your back.

3.) Herniated or bulged disc

4.) Factures

5.) Osteoarthritis

It is very important to know when dealing with middle back pain, all red flags need to be ruled out before treatment. A red flag is a sign that something more sinister such as cancer, a fracture, an infection, etc is present. If your therapist determines the presence of a red flag, they will refer you to your family doctor or the emergency room.

Low back pain, glute tightness, and hip pain courtesy of Peak Health & Performance (Read the caption)

5.) Inflammatory Back Pain

This is often misdiagnosed and less common than regular back pain. This is where the immune system begins to attack the joints of the spine, resulting in widespread inflammation in the spinal joints. It can cause upper back pain, and pain in other parts of your back.

Signs of inflammatory back pain:

  • Experiencing pain for more than 3 months
  • Morning pain/stiffness that lasts longer than 1 hour
  • Gentle exercise tends to help ease the back pain and stiffness
  • When not moving, pain and stiffness tends to increase.

Things that can help reduce back inflammation.

  • Completing a consultation with a rheumatologist to determine the presence of an inflammatory back pain disorder
  • Once a diagnosis is made, consulting with a Physiotherapist to create a customized plan to help you manage the pain.
  • Anti Inflammatory diet like getting rid of processed foods, trans fats, and processed sugar. Some studies suggest that turmeric can help
  • Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory meds.

There you have it, 5 types of back pain. Once your back pain is diagnosed correctly a Physiotherapist can create a customized plan for back pain relief. To schedule a free consultation just use the search box on this page. They’ll be able to determine if Physiotherapy would be right for your specific condition or not.

Exercise for low back pain and to stabilize core muscles courtesy of Precision Physiotherapy (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many causes of lower back pain, as explained above. Consulting with a physiotherapist is the best way to determine your unique cause.

Back pain most often occurs in the lower back. Whereas kidney pain is deeper and the pain is higher up in the back.

Yes! Walking is great for back pain because sitting often makes back pain worse. However, sometimes walking can be a trigger for your back pain. A physiotherapist can help you improve your comfort with walking.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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