Cause and Treatment of Low Back Stiffness

There are many reasons you might be experiencing back stiffness. In particular, lower back stiffness and pain can be a common ailment that should not be ignored. While most causes of lower back stiffness are non-serious, without proper back pain treatment, not only can your pain worsen, but you may actually complicate the situation, leading to more serious issues. Having a discussion with the friendly experts at Affordable Chiropractic in Killeen can help you understand the causes of your lower back stiffness and help you understand the best way to ease the pain you’re feeling.

Common Causes of Lower Back Stiffness

Tight Hamstrings

While we’ll primarily touch on hamstrings, the muscle that runs through the back of each one of your legs, a big cause of lower back stiffness is muscle tightness in many of the muscles in your legs. Hamstrings are often the culprit of lower back stiffness because they are a large muscle, which means that activity or inactivity can have huge consequences on your body. If you participate in any type of physical activity, you should be stretching your hamstrings before and after.

Your hamstrings can cause stiffness in your lower back because when they are tight, they contract to become shorter. This shortening of your hamstrings disrupts the natural curve of your spine by changing the alignment of your spine and pelvis. You feel this as lower back stiffness. Sometimes you may feel pain along with this lower back stiffness, but it may also simply feel tighter. If this is the cause of your lower back stiffness, you’ll likely experience more stiffness when you bend over.

In addition to having tight hamstrings, another common culprit of lower back stiffness is having tight hip flexors. Hip flexors are the muscles in your hip that give flexibility to your leg to move your thigh towards your body. This motion of lifting your leg up and towards your body is called hip flexion.

Bad Spinal Posture

It’s been said that sitting is the new smoking, and while that might not be 100% true, there’s some truth to how bad posture when sitting can affect your overall health. Since many of us have jobs that require us to sit in front of a computer for most of the day, it’s not difficult to develop bad posture. Sitting with your spine curved forward can significantly increase the likelihood you’ll experience lower back stiffness.

Sitting for a long time actually changes how your spine functions. Sitting with your spine curved forward (slouching)can increase pressure in your spine, which can decrease the supply of nutrients to your spinal tissue. Finally, as a result of bad posture, you might have reduced strength in your back muscles.

Lumbar Strain

This might be the most common culprit of stiffness in your back. You probably know lumbar strain as pulling a muscle or throwing your back out. Lumbar strain occurs after you’ve injured your back muscles or ligaments around your spinal column. Most people do this by lifting heavy objects or improperly executing some exercise. Usually, an injury occurs to one of these muscles that support the spine: extensors, flexors, obliques, and rotators. You probably know these are your bottom muscles, abdominal muscles, hip muscles, and side muscles.


Inflammation in your spinal joints isn’t just like inflammation after a big meal. Inflammation causes stiffness and inflexibility in your spine. Two frequent causes of inflammation in the spine are ankylosing spondylitis and osteoarthritis. Ankylosing spondylitis is the gradual fusing between vertebrae, and osteoarthritis is the dissolving or breakdown of the protective cartilage in your spinal joints.

Treatment of Back Stiffness

Most causes of back stiffness can be treated with home remedies and with chiropractic treatment, like with Affordable Chiropractic in Killeen. It’s important to seek out friendly and expert advice through Affordable Chiropractic in Killeen if you’ve been experiencing stiffness in your back. Through a consultation, our specialists will examine you, talk through your symptoms and history, and ultimately recommend a treatment plan that may include getting adjustments to correct any misalignments that may be contributing to underlying back stiffness issues.

One of the benefits of chiropractic care is that chiropractors can make recommendations for how you can adjust your lifestyle to help alleviate some of the stiffness or pain you’ve been experiencing. Common ways to combat lower back stiffness include the following:

Light Exercise

This can be especially good for inflammation, which responds better to activity than it does to rest. If you’re suffering from ankylosing spondylitis or osteoarthritis, you’ll likely be recommended some light activity like walking and light household chores that don’t involve heavy lifting or twisting and turning.

Ice or Heat

Doing cold and hot compresses on your lower back can help alleviate pain and help you regain some of your mobility. Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend one over the other or a combination of heat and ice alternatively in order to loosen up tension in those muscles surrounding your spine.


Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend trying some stretching exercises like pilates or yoga. These not only provide muscle stretching but also gently build muscle in the surrounding areas like your back and core, which help you to better support your back.

Pain Relievers

If you’re in pain, you should try lifestyle changes first, but you may also need to take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen to help. These can help relieve pain and stiffness, but they won’t help solve any underlying causes. It’s important to understand that they are temporary relief but will not make the pain go away long term. In more severe cases, you may need a prescription for a muscle relaxer if you are not responding to home remedies or over-the-counter painkillers.

While lower back stiffness can literally be a pain, it is likely not serious. However, if you’re experiencing lower back stiffness and pain, you should address it with your doctor and chiropractor for an appropriate course of treatment.