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Chronic Low Back Pain


Back pain is something nearly everyone experiences. But persistent low back pain⎯the kind that lasts three or more months⎯requires evaluation and treatment by a medical professional. Learn more about what causes chronic low back pain, and how it’s relieved.


Where Lower Back Pain Begins

Causes & Triggers

In many cases, back pain is caused by muscle or ligament strains. This can happen if you spend a day doing heavy lifting. But back pain can also be caused by compression of the spinal nerves. Herniated discs or bone growths caused by osteoarthritis can press against the nerves. Fractures of the spine can reduce the amount of space around them. This type of pain may not go away, even after weeks.

  • Aging
  • Arthritis
  • Bone diseases
  • Bone lesions
  • Diabetes
  • Disc degeneration
  • Herniated disc
  • Injury
  • Muscle irrigation
  • Nerve compression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal deformities
  • Strains or sprains
  • Viral infections

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of back pain can vary depending on the cause of your pain and the severity of your injury. You may have trouble bending or twisting your back. You may feel a dull ache or a stabbing pain. The pain may radiate down to one or both legs. It may cause weakness, numbness or tingling.

  • Bladder control issues
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain (especially sitting, standing, bending, twisting)
  • Shooting pain down the leg
  • Weakness in legs

Tips & Treatment

Some types of back pain are treated with over-the-counter medications and ointments. Your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications, cortisone injections or physical therapy. If these methods are not effective, you may benefit from surgery to correct a problem in your spine.

  • Contrary to what some may think, most physicians suggest avoiding bed rest in favor of staying as active as possible.
  • Symptoms may be relieved with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or participating in physician-recommended exercise.
  • Non-surgical treatment may include icing affected area, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or complementary medicine, such as acupuncture.
  • Depending on the root cause of the chronic low back pain and the response to other treatments and therapies, surgery may prove helpful.

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