Low back pain (LBP) is often described as sudden, sharp, persistent, or dull pain felt below the waist. LBP is very common and affects the majority of people at some point during their life.
Low back pain is most commonly caused by muscle strain associated with heavy physical work, lifting or forceful movement, bending or twisting, awkward positions, or standing in one position too long. Any of these movements can exacerbate a prior or existing back disorder.
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 LBP may begin suddenly with intense pain usually lasting less than 3 months. Chronic pain is persistent long-term pain, sometimes lasting throughout life. Even chronic pain may present episodes of acute pain.
Other symptoms include localized pain in a specific area of the low back, general aching, and/or pain that radiates into the low back, buttocks, and legS. Sometimes pain is accompanied by neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness.
Neurological symptoms requiring immediate medical attention include bowel or bladder dysfunction, groin or leg weakness or numbness, severe symptoms that do not subside after a few days, or pain prohibiting everyday activities.