Back Pain: Symptoms

By McBratney, Susan PhD

What other symptoms might occur with back pain?

Back pain may occur with other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For instance, if your back pain is due to arthritis, you may experience pain in other parts of your body. Back pain due to a pinched nerve can even lead to loss of bladder control. Back pain is often a major symptom of fibromyalgia, which is also characterized by fatigue and sleep problems. The range of symptoms that may accompany back pain include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Morning back stiffness
  • Pain through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee
  • Paresthesias (stinging, burning, tingling, crawling sensations)
  • Redness, warmth, or swelling of the back
  • Shoulder, neck, or hip pain
  • Sleep disturbance

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, back pain may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack or cauda equina syndrome (when the nerves in the spinal cord are compressed or paralyzed, cutting off sensation and movement).

Back pain that occurs with any of the following symptoms should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Jaw pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Progressive weakness and numbness in the legs


What is back pain?

Back pain is any type of pain or discomfort throughout the posterior (back) portion of your trunk, from the pelvis up through the neck. (However, most people who have pain around their neck would describe it as neck pain, not back pain.) Back pain is a very common problem in the United States, second only to Read more about back painintroduction


What causes back pain?

Understanding the parts that make up your back and how it works can help you understand why you have back pain. Your back is made up of  bony structures called vertebrae that surround and protect the spinal cord. Within the spinal cord run nerve roots from the brain that send and receive messages to and from the rest of the body. Between the vertebrae are spongy sacs of cartilage, called d... Read more about back paincauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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