If you are like most people, you will have at least one backache in your life. While such pain or discomfort may be felt anywhere in your back, the most common area affected is your low back. This is because the low back supports most of your body's weight.

You may feel a variety of symptoms. You may have a tingling or burning sensation, a dull aching, or sharp pain. You also may experience weakness in your legs or feet.

It won't necessarily be one event that actually causes your pain. You may have been doing many things improperly -- like standing, sitting, or lifting -- for a long time. Then suddenly, one simple movement, like reaching for something in the shower or bending from your waist, leads to the feeling of pain.

How long will the pain last?

Low back pain is usually defined as either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term, continuous, ongoing). Having acute back pain more than once is common, but continuous long-term pain is not.

  • Acute low back pain lasts less than 1 month and is not caused by any serious medical condition. Most cases get better within 1 week, even without medical attention. It is common to have another episode of pain at a later date, after the first attack. There are many steps you can take to prevent this recurrence.
  • Chronic low back pain lasts for more 3 months.

As you will learn later in this guide, there are definite steps that you can take to avoid both continuous, chronic pain and acute pain that comes and goes.


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Review Date: 4/6/2007

Reviewed By: Benjamin D. Roye, M.D., M.P.H., Orthopaedic Surgery, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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