What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is any type of pain or discomfort throughout the posterior (back) portion of your lower trunk area, extending down to your pelvis. The lower back is also referred to as the lumbar area or lumbar spine.

Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and absenteeism from work, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Lower back pain may last briefly or it may be chronic, which is defined as lasting more than three months. You may feel a dull, annoying ache or a sharp, bursting pain. Some pain can be so extreme as to cause you to lie  in bed unable to move. Acute lower back pain often resolves with basic self-care measures within a few weeks, but it can become chronic and lead to more serious problems over time.

In addition to the lumbar spine, there are numerous nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the lower back. Any of these structures can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of different factors, such as trauma, muscle strain, arthritis, and bone cancer.

Lower back pain occurring with other symptoms, such as loss of bladder or bowel control and numbness in your extremities (arms or legs), is a serious condition and should be evaluated as soon as possible or in an emergency medical setting. In addition, if your pain is extreme, persistent, or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with lower back pain?

Lower back pain may occur with other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Back pain due to infection or inflammation may be accompanied by a fever; whereas, back pain due to fibromyalgia may include sympt... Read more about lower back painsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes lower back pain?

The lower back consists of the lumbar spine (bony structures called vertebrae surrounding the nerves of the spinal cord). Between the vertebrae are spongy sacs of cartilage called disks that act as a cushion and provide a range of motion to the back. Muscles, tendons and ligaments provide additional support. Any of these structures in the back can become irritated or inflamed in response to a v... Read more about lower back paincauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 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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