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Back Pain Symptoms

Because your back is a complex interconnected network of bones, joints, muscles and nerves that run through the entire body, back pain can be manifested in several forms, from upper back pain, to even leg pain. The most common cause for back pain is by far a muscle strain, however there are several reasons why your back may hurt and the pain may become apparent through different symptoms.

What are some of the most common causes and symptoms for back pain?

1. How it hurts: You may experience severe pain in your lower back after an activity, a sudden movement or lifting something heavy. You may have some difficulty moving, walking or standing and feel sore to the touch. Pain may also travel down to the groin, buttocks or upper thigh.

Why it hurts: Back muscle strain. Lifting a heavy object, twisting or a sudden movement can cause the muscles or ligaments in your back to stretch and in some cases even develop small tears.

2. How it hurts: You may feel pain and numbness down the buttocks, legs and feet. Typically, pain is felt on an ongoing basis only on one side of the body and worsens after standing still or sitting for prolonged periods of time. In some cases, pain may accompanied by weakness, numbness or difficulty moving your leg.

Why it hurts: Lumbar herniated disc or sciatica. A nerve root in the lower spine may be compressed.

3. How it hurts: Pain, muscle spasms and sometime sciatica are common symptoms of degenerative disc disease. Constant, dull lower back pain accompanied by intermittent and severe pain lasting anywhere from a few days to a few months.  

Why it hurts: Degenerative disc disease. The discs between the vertebrae may begin to break down, causing inflammation in the lower back.

4. How it hurts: Deep ache in the lower back that sometimes radiates down towards th ebuttocks and back of the thighs and worsens when standing, walking or bending backwards. Leg numbness or tingling, tired feeling of the legs and tight hamstrings may be accompanying symptoms.

Why it hurts: when a vertebra in the low back slips forward on the disc space below it, the nerve root may be compressed. This is called Isthmic spondylolisthesis.

5. How it hurts: A dull ache in the lower back, hips, groin or buttocks that is worsened when sitting.

Why it hurts: too much or too little movement in the sacroiliac joints can cause what is known as sacroiliac joint disease or dysfunction.

6. How it hurts: Localized tenderness in the lower back that is aggravated by extended activity. Loss of flexibility and stiffness, making it hard to bend at the waist. Pain is worse in the morning and towards the end of the day.

Why it hurts: The cartilage between the facet joints in the spine breaks down causing pain. The condition is known as facet joint osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis and it is a degenerative condition.

7. How it hurts: Weakness, numbness and tingling from the lower back that radiates down to the buttocks and legs. Leg pain after walking or standing upright that is relieved quickly upon sitting down.

Why it hurts: spinal stenosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis can both put pressure on the nerves at the point in which they exit the spine, resulting in leg pain.

8. How it hurts: Sudden onset of back pain that is made worse by standing or walking. Limited spinal flexibility accompanied by deformity and height loss.

Why it hurts: A spinal compression fracture is a common cause of the sudden onset of back pain, especially in adults over 50, in particular those suffering from osteoporosis.

The above are likely causes of back pain, but being the back such a central part of your body’s movement and function, you should see a medical professional to confirm the root of your pain and obtain the appropriate course of treatment.