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Almost everyone experiences low back pain every now and then. Whether mild or severe, short-term or long-term, low back pain can greatly affect your daily life. When low back pain strikes, how do you go to work? Take care of your kids? Clean the house?

It's not easy, but you can be proactive when it comes to managing your low back pain. Before you take steps to ease low back pain, it's helpful to understand the causes and symptoms of low back pain.

Causes of Low Back Pain

Many factors can contribute to low back pain -- from strained muscles to strained "nerves" An acute injury -- lifting and twisting a heavy load, for example -- can lead to low back pain. And, over time, aging causes degenerative spinal changes starting as early as the 30s or earlier. Here's a quick overview of low back pain culprits:

  • Overuse of muscles and ligaments, caused by a competitive tennis match or an ambitious day in the garden
  • Disk injury, tears or other damage to the "shock absorbers" between the spinal bones (vertebrae)
  • Disk degeneration, the wear and tear, shrinking, and collapse of disks that can be more common with age
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis, changes to spinal structures, which allows a vertebra to slip forward from the next vertebra
  • Spinal stenosis, narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, which puts pressure on nerve roots
  • Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine that may cause pain for some people

Low Back Pain Symptoms

Low back pain symptoms vary greatly from person to person. They are different depending upon the cause of the pain. Your pain may be dull or sharp. It may come and go. And depending upon its source, pain may get worse with standing, sitting, bending, or walking. Pain can even extend into your buttock or leg. Along with this shooting pain may come feelings of numbness, tingling, or weakness down your leg. Called sciatica, these symptoms may be a common result of a herniated disk in the lower back, where the disk bulges out toward the spinal canal.

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Every Day with Back Pain

Manage everyday activities without making your back pain worse.
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WebMD Video Series

Click here to wach video: Low Back Pain and Your Posture

What role does posture play in your chronic back pain — and what can you do about it?