Few people escape the problem of low back pain. Often experienced as a sudden, sharp, persistent, or dull pain felt below the waist.
Low back pain is commonly caused by muscle strain, whether from heavy physical work, lifting or forceful movement, bending or twisting, awkward positions, or standing in one position too long. Other conditions that can cause low back pain include spinal stenosis, arthritis (osteoarthritis), spinal infection (osteomyelitis), spinal tumors (benign and malignant), spondylolisthesis, and vertebral fractures (e.g. burst fracture).
Low back pain is either acute or chronic.
- Acute pain in the lower back may begin suddenly with intense pain usually lasting less than three months.
- Chronic pain is persistent long-term pain, sometimes lasting throughout life. Even chronic pain may present episodes of acute pain.
Other symptoms include localised pain in a specific area of the low back, general aching, and/or pain that radiates into the low back, buttocks, and leg(s). Sometimes pain is accompanied by neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness.