I have a nasty case of Degenerative Disc Disease in the disc between L4 & L5 - probably only have 50% of the disc left. Got so bad it hurt to stand for more than a minute. Your body is very protective and adaptive. In my case the L4 & L5 has become "crusty" (my PT's description, not mine) and has lost most of its mobility. To compensate for this the joints above (L3/L4) and below (L5/S1 & SI joint) have become hypermobile. This creates the wonderful situation where pain can come from the injured area AND/OR the areas compensating for the injured area. So I have had pain originating from the DDD disc, the facet joint next to it, the overstretching of the discs above / below, and the misalignment of the SI joint.
I have been very successful in managing my situation. I try to live a healthy lifestyle: yoga, pilates, aerobic exercise, proper posture, and weight management. But I love to play hockey and disc golf - both stressing the lower back. So when the pain limits my activites I have become dependent on my wonderful Physical Therapist. A good PT can help determine the cause of the pain through a detailed examination of the motion and strength of the injured area. I have found my PT to have a better understanding of my day to day condition than my "back specialist" MD. My PT helped develop an exercise routine that stengthens the weak muscles and stretches the tight muscles to manage / minimize the pain. In my situation it hasn't always been the same muscles everytime. That is why a great PT is crucial to help diagnose the current area of tightness or weakness.
My PT has even performed a throw analysis on my backhand drives. She was able to show me where in my motion I was potentially aggravating my back and help modify my throwing motion to reduce stress on the injured area.
In short - find yourself a good expert that can help diagnose the biomechanical challenges of your injury and develop a care routine to help manage the pain. Mine expert happens to be a great MPT named Ann.