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Guide To Lower Back Pain


Updated May 27, 2006

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Part 1 of 10 - What Is Lower Back Pain? (Acute vs. Chronic Lower Back Pain)

Lower Back Pain: A Common Problem

Back pain is a common neurological ailment. Men and women are equally affected. It occurs most often between ages 30 and 50, due in part to the aging process but also as a result of sedentary life style.

Job Disability

Lower back pain is a common cause of job-related disability and missed work. Most occurrences of lower back pain go away within a few days. Others take much longer to resolve or lead to more serious conditions.

Acute Lower Back Pain

Acute back pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute back pain is mechanical in nature, the result of trauma to the lower back or a disorder such as arthritis.

Pain from trauma may be caused by:

  • sports injuries
  • work around the house
  • other stressors on the spine
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and/or range of motion, or an inability to stand straight.

  • Pain felt in one part of the body may radiate from a problem elsewhere in the body.
  • Some acute pain syndromes can become more serious if left untreated.
  • Lower back pain unrelated to injury or other known cause is unusual in pre-teen children, although, heavy backpacks can strain the back.

    Chronic Lower Back Pain

    Chronic back pain is measured by duration, pain that persists for more than 3 mo's is considered chronic. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine.

    Risks of lower back pain from disc disease or spinal degeneration increase with age.

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