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Acute or short-term low back pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most people are not aware that low back pain is one of the most common symptoms patients complain of when visiting a physician.

In fact, at least four out of five adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Pain felt in your lower back may come from the spine, muscles, nerves, or other structures in that region. It may also radiate from other areas like your mid or upper back, a hernia in the groin or a problem in the testicles or ovaries. It is important to note that many types of low back pain have no known anat
omical cause, but the pain is still real and needs to be treated.

Where does the pain come from?

The following parts of the spinal anatomy can cause this type of pain:

  • The large nerve roots in the low back that go to the legs and arms may be irritated
  • The smaller nerves that innervate the spine in the low back may be irritated
  • The large paired lower back muscles (erector spinae) may be strained
  • The bones, ligaments or joints may be injured
  • The intervertebral disc may be injured

Possible causes of lower back pain

Lower back region bears most of the weight of your body. The back pain most often occurs from strained back muscles and ligaments, improper or heavy lifting, or after a sudden awkward movement. Sometimes a muscle spasm can also cause back pain. Often, there's an accumulation of the stress with one particular event unleashing the pain. In many cases, there may not be an obvious cause. There are several other conditions not related to muscles and ligaments that can cause lower back pain and some of the most common are:

Herniated disk - This is a serious condition that occurs when disk material presses on a nerve. It can cause several complications.
Sciatica - This condition often occurs when a herniated disk causes pressure on the sciatic nerve causing sharp, shooting pain through the buttocks and back of the leg.
Spinal stenosis - This common but serious condition occurs when the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots narrows due to arthritis and bone overgrowth.
Spondylosis - Spondylosis is a type of arthritis affecting the spine. It is believed that it is caused by some degenerative changes in the spine that often come with aging.
Spondylolisthesis - This condition occurs when one vertebra in the spinal column slips forward over the other. It can cause severe nerve damage and strong back pain.

There are also several other more rare, conditions that can cause low back pain and some of the most common are:

Cauda equina syndrome

This is a very serious neurological problem causing weakness in the legs, numbness in the "saddle" or groin area and a loss of bowel or bladder control. It is caused by the damage in the lowest parts of the spine called cauda equina or “horse tail”!

Cancer in the spine

A tumor on the spine can press on a nerve causing back pain. These tumors are very rare but it is possible that they can cause very strong back pain.

Infection of the spine.

Several possible spine infections can cause strong back pain.


It is reasonable to assume that any kind of damage to the bones, ligaments, or muscles of the back can cause severe pain.

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