Is this topic for
This topic provides a general overview of low back pain. If you
have been diagnosed with a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, see the topic
Herniated Disc or
What is low back pain?
back pain can happen anywhere below the ribs and above the legs.
It is possible to hurt your back when you lift, reach, or twist. In fact,
almost everyone has low back pain at one time or another.
What causes low back pain?
Causes of low back pain
Often doctors don't really know what causes low back
What are the symptoms?
Depending on the cause, low back pain can cause a range of symptoms. The
pain may be dull or sharp. It may be in one small area or over a broad area.
You may have muscle spasms.
Low back pain can also cause leg symptoms,
such as pain, numbness, or tingling, often extending below the knee.
rare but serious problem called cauda
equina syndrome can occur if the nerves at the end of the spinal
cord are squeezed. Seek emergency treatment if you have weakness or numbness in
both legs or you lose bladder or bowel control.
Most low back pain is
short-term (acute) and will go away in a few weeks. It is more likely to become
long-lasting (chronic) if you are depressed or under
How is low back pain
Your doctor will ask questions about your past health,
symptoms, and activities. He or she will also do a physical exam. Your answers
and the exam can help rule out a serious cause for the pain. In most cases,
doctors are able to recommend treatment after the first exam.
CT scans, and
MRIs usually don't help.
But if you have a back pain problem that has lasted longer than 6 weeks,
or if your doctor thinks you may have more than muscle pain, it might be time
for one of these tests.