Back pain has many causes, ranging from minor muscle strain to severe spinal injury or infection. For most people with back pain, it is due to a benign cause; however, it is important to know the warning signs to look out for so you can be alerted to the more serious causes of back pain. Usually, acute back pain is caused my muscle sprain or injury due to some sort of overuse or strain to the back. Sometimes back pain can be associated with sharp/electric pain that radiates down one or both legs, indicating that there may be a pinched nerve in the back, called sciatica. Chronic back pain may be due to arthritis or problems with the discs in the back.
When back pain is associated with any of the following signs or symptoms, it indicates a more serious cause that necessitates immediate medical care: muscle weakness in the arms or legs; bowel or bladder incontinence or dysfunction; loss of sensation in the arms, legs or groin area; fevers/chills; sudden onset of severe pain; or traumatic injury to the back.
For most people with acute back pain due to muscle strain/sprain, the pain will usually resolve in 1-2 weeks and using pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help relieve symptoms. For other, more serious causes of back pain, seek immediate medical care because these conditions can rapidly progress to loss of neurologic function and death.
Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:
If you have
You may have
muscular-related back pain
If you have
You may have
If you have
You may have
kidney stone, kidney infection (pyelonephritis), spinal cord compression, spine fracture or spinal abscess/infection, or other medical emergency
seek emergency medical care
Ibuprofen (generic for Motrin, generic for Advil) is a pain reliever and the most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Ibuprofen is used to treat pain.
Acetaminophen (generic for Tylenol) is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Acetaminophen is used to treat pain.
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