Low back pain – chronic

Alternative Names

Nonspecific back pain; Backache – chronic; Lumbar pain – chronic; Pain – back – chronic; Chronic back pain – low

Definition of Low back pain – chronic

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints. Almost everyone will have back pain at some time in their life. Most of the time, the exact cause of the pain cannot be found.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

One single event may not cause your pain. You may have been doing many things improperly — such as standing or lifting — for a long time. Then suddenly, one simple movement (such as reaching for something or bending from your waist) leads to the feeling of pain.


You may feel a variety of symptoms if you have hurt your back, including:

Signs and tests

During the physical exam, the health care provider will try to pinpoint the location of the pain and figure out how it affects your movement. You will be asked to:


If you have any concerning symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most back problems will get better on their own. The key is to know when you need to seek medical help and when self-care measures will allow you to get better.


Reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Also reviewed by C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. – 7/10/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.