Back pain can vary from mild to severe. It can last for a short time, or be chronic, lasting much longer. Back pain can be brought on by a pulled muscle or damage to a disk in the spine, among other things.
Search our physician directory for help finding a doctor who is right for you.
Acute back pain is pain that occurs suddenly and may last for up to six weeks, even if severe. Chronic back pain is pain that persists for longer periods of time and may require medical care to determine the precise cause of the pain. Back pain may affect spinal joints, disks or supporting muscles of the back.
Back pain may be caused by muscle or ligament strains due to repeated heavy lifting or a sudden movement; bulging or ruptured disks; osteoarthritis; dislocation of one of the vertebrae; rheumatoid arthritis; an abnormally curved spine; or ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that causes the vertebrae to fuse together. Rarely, an infection or cancer may be the cause of back pain.
Back pain affects almost everyone at some point in his or her life but becomes more common as you get older. Lack of exercise and being in poor physical condition causes muscles in your back to weaken, and may make you more likely to suffer from back pain. People prone to depression, who smoke and are overweight also have a greater risk for back pain.