The Causes of Discogenic Pain: Everything You Need to Know

Multiple causes of discogenic pain can create difficulty with daily activities. Continue reading to learn more about treatment options.

Table of Contents

Causes of Discogenic Pain

One of the most common causes of long-term back pain is discogenic pain. However, if you’re struggling with this kind of pain, you may wonder what the causes of discogenic pain are.

The causes of discogenic pain can vary, but they often stem from degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs. These changes can include disc degeneration, disc herniation, or tears in the disc’s outer layer.

Additionally, factors such as aging, genetics, and spinal injuries can contribute to the causes of discogenic pain. If left untreated, discogenic pain can greatly affect daily activities and quality of life.

What Is Discogenic Pain?

Discogenic pain is a form of lower back or neck discomfort caused by degeneration or injury to the intervertebral discs between vertebrae. 


This injury causes nerve irritation and inflammation, resulting in varying levels of discomfort and severity.

Impact of Discogenic Pain

This type of pain can be acute or chronic, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms of discogenic pain may include sharp pain in the spine, muscle weakness, and decreased range of motion.

If left untreated, it can significantly impact your quality of life. Seeking medical attention and proper diagnosis is crucial to managing and treating discogenic pain.1

Because discogenic pain can significantly impact one’s quality of life, it is imperative to seek treatment from a medical professional if you experience any symptoms or causes of discogenic pain, along with other types of back pain.

What Are the Common Causes of Discogenic Pain?

Discogenic pain can have a variety of causes. It is characterized by persistent discomfort originating from the discs in the spine. Understanding the underlying mechanisms and triggers of discogenic pain is essential in diagnosing and addressing this condition effectively.


Some of the most common causes of discogenic pain include:

Degeneration of the Spine

Degeneration of the spine can occur for multiple reasons, some of which are due to disease. As the discs degenerate, they lose their ability to cushion the vertebral bones and protect the spinal cord, leading to discogenic pain.

While the causes of discogenic pain can be complex and varied, understanding how disk degeneration is at the root of the pain for many people can help individuals better manage their condition and find effective treatment options.2
Discogenic pain tends to be localized to the area of the herniation and can vary in intensity from a dull ache to sharp, shooting pain. If left untreated, the condition can lead to chronic pain and decreased mobility.3

Poor Posture

Poor posture can cause issues for your body in more ways than you may realize. One common issue that can arise from bad posture is discogenic pain. When you slouch or hunch forward, you’re putting unnecessary pressure on some of your discs, which can cause them to bulge or rupture.

Over time, this can lead to chronic pain and discomfort that radiates throughout your back, neck, and even your limbs. Practicing good posture habits and being mindful of your body’s position can help prevent discogenic pain from developing and maintain better spinal health.

Repetitive Motions

Repetitive motions are an excellent way to build muscle and increase stamina, but they are also one of the leading causes of discogenic pain. When these discs become damaged due to repeated motions, they can cause sharp or dull pain that radiates throughout the back and even down into the legs.

Damaged discs can be especially problematic for athletes or those in physically demanding jobs who perform the same motions repeatedly. If left untreated, discogenic pain from repetitive motions can even lead to debilitating conditions like herniated discs, as mentioned above.


Obesity can significantly impact our bodies, including our spinal health. One of the common causes of discogenic pain stems from obesity. The excess weight carried by some individuals may place significant pressure on the spinal column and the discs that support it.

Over time, this pressure can cause these discs to deteriorate and weaken, leading to discogenic pain. This symptom is an important reminder that lifestyle changes to manage obesity benefits overall health and reduces the risk of experiencing painful spinal conditions such as discogenic pain.4


While herniated discs or degenerative disc disease can cause discogenic pain, recent studies have also explored the role of genetics as one of the causes of discogenic pain. Research has shown that specific genes related to disc degeneration can increase an individual’s risk of developing discogenic pain.

In addition, certain genetic variations can affect how a person responds to pain and how quickly their body can heal from disc-related injuries.

Understanding the genetics behind discogenic pain could lead to new treatments and prevention strategies for those who suffer from this often debilitating condition.5

Natural Aging Process

As we age, our body undergoes several changes, including the natural degradation of spinal discs. This process, known as disc degeneration, is one of the primary causes of discogenic pain.

The discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, dry out and lose their elasticity, making them more prone to wear and tear.

Moreover, the gradual loss of disc height can cause the vertebrae to shift and affect the spine’s natural alignment. The body’s natural aging process can contribute significantly to discogenic pain, making it essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle that supports the health of your spine.

What Are the Symptoms of Discogenic Pain?

Discogenic pain manifests itself through a range of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life.

These symptoms arise from degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs and can vary in intensity and duration. Recognizing the common indicators of discogenic pain is crucial in seeking appropriate medical attention.

Here are some common symptoms associated with discogenic pain:

Localized Back Pain

The most prominent symptom of discogenic pain is often localized pain in the back, typically in the area of the affected disc. 


The pain may be described as a dull ache, sharp or stabbing sensation, or a constant throbbing feeling. This physical pain is one of the most notable causes of discogenic pain many individuals experience.

Pain Worsened by Movement

Discogenic pain often worsens with specific movements or activities, such as bending, twisting, or lifting heavy objects. Activities that put pressure on the affected disc can exacerbate the pain.

Radicular Pain

In some cases, discogenic pain can cause radiating pain that extends into the buttocks, hips, thighs, or even down to the lower legs. This type of pain is called radicular pain and is caused by irritation or compression of the spinal nerves.

Numbness or Tingling

Along with radicular pain, discogenic pain may also lead to sensations of numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles feeling in the affected areas. This reaction occurs due to nerve involvement or compression.

Muscle Weakness

When discogenic pain affects the spinal nerves, it can lead to muscle weakness in the legs or difficulty with certain movements. Weakness may make walking, standing, or performing everyday activities challenging.

Limited Range of Motion

The pain and inflammation associated with discogenic pain can result in a reduced range of motion in the spine. Patients may find it challenging to bend, twist, or fully extend their back without experiencing discomfort.


Discogenic pain often causes stiffness in the affected area of the spine. Patients may feel stiff upon waking up in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity, and the stiffness tends to improve with movement.

Pain That Is Worsened With Prolonged Sitting or Standing

Individuals with discogenic pain may experience an increase in pain intensity after prolonged periods of sitting or standing. This can make it challenging to maintain a comfortable posture for an extended duration.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the disc injury. If you suspect you have discogenic pain, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

How Does Discogenic Pain Differ From Other Types of Back Pain?

Unlike other forms of back pain, discogenic pain is often connected to structural abnormalities such as herniated discs, tears in the outer layer of a disc, or degenerative disc disease.

 Therefore, while other types of back pain can stem from muscle strain or injury, discogenic pain is closely linked to problems with the spinal discs.

How to Tell If You Have Discogenic Pain

Discogenic pain can be tricky to diagnose because it shares many similarities with other types of pain.

Discogenic pain is caused by problems with the discs in your spine, which act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae. When these discs degenerate, it can lead to pain that is felt primarily in the back or neck.

Characterizing Discogenic Pain

Furthermore, discogenic pain is often characterized by a dull or aching pain in the lower back or buttocks. It may also involve numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs, as mentioned above.

However, it’s important to note that other types of pain, such as muscular or nerve-related, may present with similar symptoms.

Importance of Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

Consulting with a healthcare professional and undergoing imaging tests can help determine the exact causes of discogenic pain and lead to effective treatment.

By understanding the specific causes of discogenic pain through medical assessment, individuals can make informed decisions about their treatment options.

How to Diagnose the Causes of Discogenic Pain

Oftentimes, chronic back pain can be a symptom of a more complex issue, such as discogenic pain. But how do doctors diagnose this type of pain?

The process usually starts with a thorough physical exam and medical history. From there, imaging tests, like MRIs and CT scans, may be used to get a closer look at the spinal discs and determine if they are the cause of the pain.

In some cases, a discogram may also be performed, which involves injecting dye into the disc to help identify any issues or abnormalities.

Is It Difficult to Diagnose Discogenic Pain?

It can be difficult to look into the causes of discogenic pain to diagnose it properly, especially because back pain can radiate from multiple sources.

However, meeting with a doctor and discussing your symptoms can help you get a proper diagnosis and the treatment you need to heal from discogenic pain.

Diagnosis often involves a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging tests to rule out other potential causes. Additionally, subjective pain experiences can further contribute to difficulty in accurately diagnosing discogenic pain.

What Is Treatment For Discogenic Pain?

The treatment options for discogenic pain aim to alleviate pain, improve function, and promote healing of the affected intervertebral discs. 


Addressing discogenic pain can help prevent further degeneration of the intervertebral discs, reduce inflammation, and enhance functional capabilities.

Here are some commonly used treatment approaches for the causes of discogenic pain:

Conservative Treatments

Conservative treatments will be used to help alleviate the symptoms of discogenic pain. These treatments typically involve non-invasive approaches aimed at pain management and healing. 


Some traditional treatments may include pain medications, hot/cold therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

Some conservative treatments for discogenic pain may include:

  • Physical therapy: Specific exercises and stretches can help strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.
  • Pain medications: Medications such as ibuprofen may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Heat or ice therapy: Applying heat or ice packs to the affected area can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Activity modification: Avoiding activities that worsen the pain, such as heavy lifting or prolonged sitting, can help prevent further damage and promote healing.
  • Spinal bracing: In some cases, wearing a back brace or corset can provide support and stability to the spine, reducing pain.

Surgical Interventions

In the event that conservative treatments fail to provide relief or improvement, alternative interventions may need to be considered. 


Surgical interventions for discogenic pain may include:

  • Discectomy: In cases where a disc herniation or severe disc degeneration is causing discogenic pain, a discectomy may be performed. It involves removing a portion or the entire damaged disc to relieve nerve pressure.
  • Spinal fusion: Fusion surgery may be considered when multiple discs are affected or when spine instability is present. It involves fusing two or more vertebrae, providing stability and reducing pain.
  • Artificial disc replacement: In some cases, an artificial disc may be implanted to replace the damaged disc while maintaining the spine’s mobility.

Treatment choice depends on various factors, such as the severity of symptoms, the location of disc involvement, overall health, and individual preferences. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for discogenic pain.

Causes of Discogenic Pain

How J. Flowers Health Institute Can Help

No matter what causes of discogenic pain you may be experiencing, J. Flowers Health Institute is here to help. Our institute is dedicated to providing comprehensive assistance and support throughout treatment.

With a patient-centered approach focused on improving overall well-being, we are committed to helping you find relief from discogenic pain.

Understand the Underlying Causes of Discogenic Pain and Begin Healing

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we understand the difficulty of diagnosing and treating discogenic pain. Our team of board-certified experts can provide comprehensive diagnostic evaluations to identify the causes of discogenic pain and develop a personalized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs.

We also offer a range of treatments, from physical therapy to medications, to help you manage your pain and improve your quality of life. Our goal is to provide clarity, direction, and results so that you can get back to living a healthy and active lifestyle.

Get in Touch With Us Today

If you are experiencing one of the causes of discogenic pain, get in touch with us today. Our team will work with you to help create an individualized treatment plan to help you recover.