Low back pain – acute

Alternative Names

Backache; Low back pain; Lumbar pain; Pain – back; Acute back pain; Back pain – new; Back pain – short-term

Definition of Low back pain – acute

Low back pain refers to a shooting or stabbing pain felt in your lower back. You may also have back stiffness, decreased movement of the lower back, and difficulty standing straight.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

If you are like most people, you will have at least one backache in your life. While such pain or discomfort can happen anywhere in your back, the most common area affected is your low back. This is because the low back supports most of your body’s weight.

Symptoms

You may feel a variety of symptoms if you’ve hurt your back. You may have a tingling or burning sensation, a dull achy feeling, or sharp pain. Depending on the cause, you also may have weakness in your legs or feet.

Signs and tests

When you first see your doctor, you will be asked questions about your back pain, including how often it occurs and how severe it is. Your doctor will try to determine the cause of your back pain and whether it is likely to quickly get better with simple measures such as ice, mild painkillers, physical therapy, and proper exercises. Most of the time, back pain will get better using these approaches.

Treatment

To get better quickly, take the right steps when you first get pain.

Expectations (prognosis)

Many people will feel better within 1 week after the start of back pain. After another 4 – 6 weeks, the back pain will likely be completely gone.

Review

A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery (7/10/2009). – 5/25/2010

Lumbar vertebrae

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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