Back Pain

Back pain is pain felt in the back that usually originates from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.

Back pain may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may radiate into the arms and hands as well as the legs or feet, and may include symptoms other than pain. These symptoms may include tingling, weakness or numbness.

The following factors are linked to a higher risk of developing low back pain:

  • A mentally stressful job
  • Pregnancy - pregnant women are much more likely to get back pain
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Age - older adults are more susceptible than young adults or children
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gender - back pain is more common among females than males
  • Obesity/overweight
  • Smoking
  • Strenuous physical exercise (especially if not done properly)
  • Strenuous physical work

If any of the following signs or symptoms accompanies a back pain your should see your doctor:

  • Weight loss
  • Elevated body temperature (fever)
  • Inflammation (swelling) on the back
  • Persistent back pain - lying down or resting does not help
  • Pain down the legs
  • Pain reaches below the knees
  • A recent injury, blow or trauma to your back
  • Urinary incontinence - you pee unintentionally (even small amounts)
  • Difficulty urinating - passing urine is hard
  • Fecal incontinence - you lose your bowel control (you poo unintentionally)
  • Numbness around the genitals
  • Numbness around the anus
  • Numbness around the buttocks