Lower Back Pain
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Reviewed By:

Kent C Doan, MD

Kent C Doan, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr Doan Graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine and completed residency training in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Colorado. He completed additional fellowship training in Orthopedic Sports Medicine at the prestigious Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado. He is a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in complex and revision knee and shoulder surgery at the Kansas City Orthopedic Institute. He also holds an assistant professorship at the University of Kansas City.

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr. Hamahata graduated from the Jikei University of Medical Science. After working at Asanokawa General Hospital and Kosei Chuo Hospital, he joined the Department of Orthopedics at Asakusa Hospital in April 2021, specializing in general orthopedics and joint replacement surgery.

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Content updated on Apr 4, 2024

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With an easy 3-min questionnaire , Ubie's AI-powered system will generate a free report on possible causes.

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  • History - considers past illnesses, surgeries, family history, and lifestyle choices.

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People with similar symptoms also use Ubie's symptom checker to find possible causes

  • Pinched nerve in lower back

  • Low back pain worsens when getting up from a sitting or lying position

  • Severe back pain that prevents me from bending down when standing

  • Back pain that prevents me from standing still for a long time

  • Low back pain aggravated by coughing, sneezing, or straining

  • Low back pain when leaning forward and lifting something

  • Lower back pain is worse when pressed on a painful area

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About the Symptom

Low back pain describes pain felt below the waist. It can be aching, pressing, sharp, or dull in nature.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Fever

  • Intermenstrual bleeding

  • Numbness of lower limbs

  • Abnormal sensation (tingling, prickling)

  • Abdominal pain

  • Lower abdominal pain

Possible Causes

Generally, Lower back pain can be related to:

  • Vertebral Compression Fracture

    A fracture of the spine bones, often occurring in older patients with osteoporosis (bone weakening). It can be caused by small amounts of force, such as falling on one's buttocks or lifting heavy objects. Some patients may dismiss it as a normal backache, only to be diagnosed later when an X-ray is performed.

  • Acute Low Back Pain

    Sudden pain in the lower back can be caused by muscle strain, such as after lifting heavy objects or coughing vigorously. In some cases, the pain is apparent upon waking up and no preceding cause is found.

  • Spinal Canal Stenosis

    Narrowing of the canal surrounding the nerves. It can be caused by normal wear and tear of the spine or by a previous injury to the region.

  • Low Back Pain
  • Lumbar Vertebrae Disk Herniation
  • Lumbar Spondylosis
  • Transverse Myelitis
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

  • Spondyloarthropathy
  • Bone Tumor

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Do you have lower back pain?

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FAQs

Q.

What diseases could cause lower back pain?

A.

Lower back pain might be caused by an issue in the spine itself, or it may come from elsewhere, including from diseases or psychological factors like stress.

Details

Lower back pain can be divided into two categories: pain caused by the lower back (spine) itself, and pain arising from causes outside of the lower back. Diseases where the cause is directly related to the lower back (spine) itself ・Aging or overuse of the back: lumbar disc herniation, lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative lumbar spine disease ・Falls or accidents: lumbar compression fracture, muscle injury ・Growth: scoliosis, lumbar spondylolisthesis ・Bacterial infection: purulent spinal inflammation, spinal caries ・Tumors: spine-originating cancer, cancer that has spread from other locations Diseases where the cause is outside the lower back ・Vascular diseases: dissecting aortic aneurysm ・Urinary tract diseases: ureteral stone ・Gynecological diseases: uterine fibroids or endometriosis ・Digestive system diseases: cholecystitis or duodenal ulcer ・Orthopedic diseases outside the lower back: degenerative joint disease ・Psychological stress-related diseases: somatoform disorder, schizophrenia

References

Japanese Orthopaedic Association, Japanese Society for Spine Surgery and Related Research. Clinical Guidelines for Low Back Pain, 2nd Revised Edition. Nan'endo, 2019.

https://minds.jcqhc.or.jp/docs/gl_pdf/G0001110/4/Low_back_pain.pdf

Q.

Can lower back pain be caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar spine?

A.

If you feel pain or tingling not only in your lower back but also in your buttocks, the back of your thighs, or your shins, it might be a sign of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine.

Details

If you have the following symptoms, there's a strong chance it might be a herniated disc, and you should see an orthopedic doctor near you: ・Sudden onset of lower back pain and intense pain or tingling in the legs ・Pain or tingling in the buttocks, back of the thighs, or shins ・Symptoms get worse with coughing, sneezing, or straining ・Pain increases when bending forward ・Unconsciously leaning to one side Please note that people in their 20s to 40s and those with smoking habits are particularly more prone to herniated discs in the lumbar spine.

References

Clinical Practice Guideline Committee for Lumbar Disc Herniation & Lumbar Disc Herniation Treatment Guideline Development Committee. Lumbar Disc Herniation Treatment Guidelines, 3rd Edition, Revised 2021. Nankodo; 2021. Referenced August 5, 2023.

https://minds.jcqhc.or.jp/n/med/4/med0017/G0001277

Q.

Can I get back pain before or during my period?

A.

Yes, back pain before or during your period is part of menstrual symptoms and cramps, and many women experience it.

Details

Often, the pain can spread from the lower belly to the back. This is believed to be because of changes in hormones. Specifically, changes in the balance of some female hormones can cause the uterus to contract strongly, leading to back pain. If the back pain is very strong, you should see an orthopedic doctor. If you also have pain in the lower belly, you should see a gynecologist.

References

Smith, Derek R et al. Menstrual disorders and their influence on low back pain among Japanese nurses. Industrial health. 2009, 47, p.301-12.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19531916/

Huei-Mein Chen. Randomized Trial of Modified Stretching Exercise Program for Menstrual Low Back Pain. West J Nurs Res. 2019, 41, p.238-257.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29529975/

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References

  • Will JS, Bury DC, Miller JA. Mechanical Low Back Pain. Am Fam Physician. 2018 Oct 1;98(7):421-428. PMID: 30252425.

    https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2018/1001/p421.html

  • Knezevic NN, Candido KD, Vlaeyen JWS, Van Zundert J, Cohen SP. Low back pain. Lancet. 2021 Jul 3;398(10294):78-92. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00733-9. Epub 2021 Jun 8. PMID: 34115979.

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00733-9/fulltext

  • Urits I, Burshtein A, Sharma M, Testa L, Gold PA, Orhurhu V, Viswanath O, Jones MR, Sidransky MA, Spektor B, Kaye AD. Low Back Pain, a Comprehensive Review: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 11;23(3):23. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0757-1. PMID: 30854609.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11916-019-0757-1

  • Delitto A, George SZ, Van Dillen L, Whitman JM, Sowa G, Shekelle P, Denninger TR, Godges JJ; Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Low back pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Apr;42(4):A1-57. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2012.42.4.A1. Epub 2012 Mar 30. PMID: 22466247; PMCID: PMC4893951.

    https://www.jospt.org/doi/10.2519/jospt.2012.42.4.A1

  • Patrick N, Emanski E, Knaub MA. Acute and chronic low back pain. Med Clin North Am. 2014 Jul;98(4):777-89, xii. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2014.03.005. PMID: 24994051.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025712514000443?via%3Dihub

Reviewed By:

Kent C Doan, MD

Kent C Doan, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr Doan Graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine and completed residency training in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Colorado. He completed additional fellowship training in Orthopedic Sports Medicine at the prestigious Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado. He is a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in complex and revision knee and shoulder surgery at the Kansas City Orthopedic Institute. He also holds an assistant professorship at the University of Kansas City.

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr. Hamahata graduated from the Jikei University of Medical Science. After working at Asanokawa General Hospital and Kosei Chuo Hospital, he joined the Department of Orthopedics at Asakusa Hospital in April 2021, specializing in general orthopedics and joint replacement surgery.

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