Back Pain

Back pain or backache is the pain felt in the back that may originate from muscles, nerves, bones, joints, or other structures in the spine. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems experienced by most people at some time in their life, with more than 3 million cases per year. It can be acute, usually lasting from few days to few weeks, or chronic, lasting for more than three months.

Back pain can occur as a dull constant pain or a sudden sharp pain. It may be confined to one area or radiate to other areas such as the arm and hand, the upper back, the low back, and even the leg or foot. Back pain that spreads to another body part may be considered as radicular pain. It is also common for people with back pain to experience additional symptoms, including stiffness, numbness, achiness, numbness, tingling sensations, and general weakness.

Certain activities can increase or worsen back pain, like sitting, walking, standing, bending over, and twisting at the waist. Exert caution especially when performing such activities if you experience back pain.

Low Back Pain

Low back pain, also known as lumbago, is a common condition affecting the lower part of the spine. It is caused by an injury to a muscle (strain) or ligament (sprain). Some of the causes are arthritis, fracture, ruptured disk, poor posture, improper lifting, or lack of regular exercise.

Symptoms of low back pain include a minor ache to a strong stabbing or shooting sensation in the lower back. Depending on the severity, the pain can make it difficult to stand up or move. Acute back pain comes suddenly, typically after an injury from heavy lifting, sports, or outdoor activities. Pain that persists for more than 3 months is considered chronic. If the pain does not improve within 72 hours, you should consult a doctor.

People generally begin to feel pain in their lower back around the age of 30. As you get older, your chances of having lower back pain increase. Additionally, being overweight, sedentary, or performing heavy lifting on a routine basis puts you at a higher risk of developing low back pain.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Many patients believe their back pain is self-treatable or self-diagnosable, but consider seeking medical attention when you notice or experience these symptoms.

  • Pain is unbearable or extremely difficult to tolerate.
  • Leg pain or body weakness gets worse.
  • Pain is accompanied by fever.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • You have trouble standing upright.