If you experience back pain when you bend or stretch, you’re certainly not alone.  The question though, is what’s causing your back pain in the first place?

The answers are more varied than you might think.  Here are the most common ones:

A Muscle Strain or Sprain

These two are far and away the most common causes of back pain that flares up as a consequence of you stretching, bending or reaching.  It hurts, yes, but it’s temporary.  With the application of alternating ice and heat, paired with low impact exercises that gently stretch those muscles, you can expect pain caused by strains or sprains to gradually improve and fade away over time.

This type of pain can be caused by a variety of issues including nerve compression, lack of blood flow, a general lack of flexibility and excessive physical activity which leads to overuse.  Even dehydration can cause this type of pain.

A Herniated Disc

While not nearly as common as a muscle strain or sprain, herniated discs are still commonplace and describe a condition where the soft padding between two segments of your spine has slipped out of position and begun to bulge out.  When that happens, pretty much any time you move, you’re going to experience sharp, shooting pain.

With proper treatment, including NSAIDs and low-impact exercise, the pain from a herniated disc will begin to subside in six to eight weeks.  Other treatments such as an epidural steroid injection could speed the process even further, although if the pain persists much beyond eight weeks, surgery may be required to correct the issue.


This is more common in people over the age of fifty-five, although it’s certainly possible that arthritis could be the issue in people younger than that.  Unfortunately, there’s no cure for arthritis, although there are several viable treatments that can help you manage the pain.

Our recommendation is this:  Unless you can point to a recent activity that may have caused a strain or sprain, you should see your doctor or chiropractor and give them the opportunity to assess you, so you can begin treating it appropriately.  Don’t suffer needlessly!