Low back pain is usually caused by either a problem with the disc, facet joints, muscles or sacroiliac joints. Disc and facet joint problems are the most common.

What sort of low back pain do you suffer from?

Disc problems are more likely if you are under 50 years old. Generally facet pain is on one side of the back, and disc pain is more central although it can radiate into one or both legs.

If pain is increased with coughing or sneezing it is more likely to be a disc problem.

Facet pain is usually alleviated by sitting or walking, whereas disc pain is typically aggravated by sitting and relieved by walking.

Standing in the one spot and walking usually aggravate sacroiliac pain.

Arising from sitting commonly aggravates disc pain or sacroiliac pain, but not facet pain.

Your chiropractor will perform tests on you to determine where your pain is coming from.


Sciatica generally refers to pain in the leg originating in the spine or pelvis. Structures involved could be the sacroiliac joint or the piriformis muscle. Pain can also arise from actual nerve tissue (neuropathic pain).

The presence of subjective neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling or loss of muscle strength strongly suggests a neuropathic component.

Your chiropractor will conduct tests to determine if there is pressure or irritation to nerve tissue. In more severe cases they may need to be refer you for an MRI.

back pain