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Back Pain

What Are The Symptoms Of Back Pain?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 10:02

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The type and severity of the back pain will depend on the condition that's causing the pain. However, various causes of back pain may produce similar symptoms.

Low back pain may come on suddenly or gradually.

  • When low back pain is intense or "acute," it usually lasts a brief period such as a few days to several weeks.
  • Low back pain lasting longer than three months is termed "chronic."
  • Low back pain may or may not radiate down into the leg.

Pain from injury to the muscles or ligaments of the back is usually confined to the back, and depending on the cause may or may not be aggravated by bending the back.

Pain from pressure on the sciatic nerve due to a herniated disc, or any condition that compresses the nerve, may be felt as:

  • Mild pain in the hip or part of the leg, or tingling in these regions
  • A sharp pain down part of the leg, with numbness in certain parts of the leg.
  • Pain that gets worse with sneezing or coughing.
  • Pain that is usually located on one side, but may radiate down both legs if the disc is pressing on the nerve roots to both legs.
  • The pain may be worsened by sitting or standing for long periods

These symptoms may accompany back pain - or they may be felt without any accompanying back pain at all. These symptoms are commonly called "sciatica" - pain radiating into the hip or down the leg - due to the pressure on the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve, the great nerve of the leg.

With spinal stenosis (the condition in which the spinal canal is narrowed and the area in the spine where the nerves pass through may be tight), the pain is often felt in both legs as well, particularly when walking. It is sometimes improved when bending forward.

Nice To Know:

Compression in the lower parts of the spinal canal (the cauda equina) by a disc can be serious. Emergency surgery may be required to decompress the nerves. Symptoms may include:

  • Mild low back pain
  • A feeling of numbness in the buttocks or thighs
  • An inability to control urine or stools

 

Back Pain