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Low back pain is the pain affecting the lower part of the back. The pain felt in the  lower back may come from the spine, muscles, nerves, or other structures in that region.

It may also radiate from other areas like mid or upper back, a hernia in the groin, or a problem in the testicles or ovaries.
It is described as:

  • Acute if it lasts less than 6 weeks
  • Sub-acute if it lasts 6-12 weeks
  • Chronic if it lasts more than 12 weeks


Nearly everyone has experienced back pain which interfered with work, routine daily activities, or recreation at some point in their life. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Several studies have shown that back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States. It can sometimes lead to more serious conditions but most back pain does not signify any serious underlying problem, and will sort its self out within a few days or weeks.

Anatomy of the back

Human back is a very complex structure made of bones, muscles, and other tissues that form the posterior part of the body’s trunk, from the neck to the pelvis. The centerpiece in the spinal column is the spinal cord - the delicate nervous system structure which carries signals that control the body’s movements and convey its sensations.

The spine is made of 30 little bones called the vertebrae. Each of these bones contains a round hole creating a channel that surrounds the spinal cord.
Cauda equina
The nerve roots to the lower back and legs extend many inches down the spinal column before exiting. This large bundle of nerve roots was called the cauda equina, or horse’s tail by early anatomists. Bands of tissue known as ligaments and tendons hold the vertebrae in place and attach the muscles to the spinal column.
Starting at the top, the spine has four regions:

  • the seven cervical or neck vertebrae (labeled C1–C7),
  • the 12 thoracic or upper back vertebrae (labeled T1–T12),
  • the five lumbar vertebrae (labeled L1–L5), which we know as the lower back, and
  • the sacrum and coccyx, a group of bones fused together at the base of the spine


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