Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Overview of Back Pain: Meaning, symptoms, causes & treatment

Overview of Back Pain: Meaning, symptoms, causes & treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Back Pain (BP) is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. BP can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and can significantly impact a person's quality of life. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for BP, as well as provide tips for preventing and managing this condition. This article will provide you with valuable information to help you better understand and manage your symptoms.




What is Back Pain?

Back Pain can be defined as discomfort in the back or spine, which is a fairly prevalent issue. While both men and women complain about having BP; people aged 25 and older are more likely to suffer from it.

BP is classified into the following types.

  • Lower BP: It is defined as pain in the lower region of the spine (the lumbar spine).

  • Upper BP: Affects the upper back (thoracic spine).

  • Pain in the neck or cervical spine.

  • Pain in the tailbone or coccyx.

BP manifests itself in various ways for different individuals. Some describe it as excruciating pain, while others describe it as spasms. While you may feel stiff or have difficulty turning or bending in certain ways, in some circumstances, such as sciatica, pain can go down one or both legs. It can affect you both physically and emotionally. Individuals experiencing it may become irritable or short-tempered. They may feel that the pain will take control of their lives and may lose confidence.

Risk factors of Back Pain

Back Pain may be experienced by anyone at some time in their lives. Numerous factors can increase your chances of having BP, which include the following.

  • Fitness level: Those who are not physically fit are more likely to suffer from BP. 

  • Obesity: If you regularly consume a diet high in calories and fat and continue to lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may suffer from obesity. This might place strain on the back.

  • Risk factors at work: Professions that involve heavy lifting, pushing, tugging, or twisting can cause back injuries. A desk job, particularly if you have bad posture or sit all day in an uncomfortable chair, may also cause BP.

  • Stress: BP can be more frequent and severe if you have persistent poor sleep, depression, or anxiety.

  • Age: BP becomes prevalent as one gets older.

Causes of Back Pain

The spine is a complicated structure consisting of twenty-four tiny bones called vertebrae that are placed on top of each other. Discs are the cushions or shock absorbers that lay between each vertebra and provide your spine with suppleness. Vertebrae are connected by tiny joints known as 'facet' joints, which allow you to move and bend your back. A network of muscles and ligaments connects the vertebrae together and gives them structural support, allowing you to move.

BP can come from any of these structures, but in most situations, it is not caused by major damage to your spine. Some of the potential causes of BP may include the following.

  • Muscle spasm

  • Muscular tension

  • Arthritis of the hip

  • Falls, fractures, and other injuries

  • Damaged ligaments or muscles

The following activities can cause strains or spasms in the back.

  • Lifting very heavy objects

  • Improper way of lifting the objects

  • A sudden or an awkward movement

Some structural conditions may also cause strain on the back, resulting in BP.

  • Disk bulging: Our vertebrae are cushioned by disks. More pressure will be placed on a nerve if the disk bulges or perforates.

  • Herniated or ruptured discs: It is a condition in which a disk compresses and irritates adjacent nerves. This is most common in the lumbar spine, although it can also occur in the cervical spine.

  • Spondylolisthesis: It is a condition in which a vertebra in the spine slides out of alignment or progressively shifts out of position.

  • Spinal stenosis: It is defined as a constriction of the vertebral column that places strain on the spinal cord and nerves.

  • Sciatica: It is a shooting, acute pain. 

  • Arthritis: Arthritis can cause joint pain in the lower back, hips, and other areas. In some cases, BP can be caused by spinal stenosis, which is a constriction of the space surrounding the spinal cord tumour.

  • Poor posture: BP can also be caused by improper posture. For example, leaning extremely low or sitting in a hunched position when using computers may lead to worse shoulder pain or BP over time.

Some underlying medical conditions may also cause Back Pain.

  • Appendicitis

  • Cancers (extremely rare)

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Myofascial pain syndrome

  • Infections (extremely rare)

  • Inflammation of the gallbladder

  • Kidney infection and kidney stones

  • Liver ailments

  • Pancreatitis

  • Inflammatory disorders of the pelvis (sexually transmitted infections)

  • Ulcers in the stomach that perforate

  • Infections of the urinary tract

  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of Back Pain

BP can vary from mild soreness in one area to widespread pain across the back. The pain may radiate from your back to other parts of the body, such as your buttocks, legs, or abdomen. The severity differs among individuals. You may encounter the following symptoms depending on the type, cause, and area of your BP.

  • Pain that increases with lifting and bending

  • Pain that worsens even when you are resting, sitting, or standing

  • Intermittent Back Pain

  • The prevalence of morning stiffness eventually lessens with activity

  • Radiating pain from the back into the leg, hip, or buttocks

  • You may experience numbness in the legs and feet

If your Back Pain does not improve within a few weeks or if any of the following symptoms occur, you should consult a doctor.

  • Tingling and numbness in the legs and feet

  • Excessive BP that does not alleviate by medicine

  • BP from an accident, sudden fall, or injury

  • BP accompanied by difficulty in urination, weakness, soreness, fever, or unintended weight loss

How is Back Pain diagnosed?

Usually, the diagnosis is made after the healthcare professional does a physical examination of the patient and evaluates the symptoms. Your doctor may evaluate the following during the physical exam.

  • Standing and walking abilities

  • The range of motion of the spine

  • Reflexes

  • Leg muscle strength

  • Sensitivity to feelings in your legs

If any critical problem is detected, your physician may suggest further tests, including the following.

  • Blood and urine tests to rule out any underlying issues

  • X-rays of the spine to determine bone alignment and look for fractures

  • A CT or MRI scan to evaluate your discs, ligaments, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels

  • Bone scan to check for bone tissue anomalies

  • Electromyography (EMG) to test nerve impulses

Treatment of Back Pain

Treatment of BP can be done in a variety of ways. However, stronger treatments may be required to deal with more severe situations under the supervision of a doctor.

1. Medication

Most of the back pain attacks are alleviated by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and analgesics such as acetaminophen. However, if you have renal issues or stomach ulcers, you should consult with your doctor and exercise extreme caution while using drugs like ibuprofen.

2. Topical ointments or gels

Topical products like gel, lotions, ointments, patches, and sprays may be highly effective in alleviating Back Pain since they contain ingredients like ibuprofen and lidocaine.

3. Muscle relaxants and antidepressants

These medications can be used to help treat BP because they relieve pain by acting on the central nervous system.

4. Steroid injections

If you are suffering from BP that involves a nerve, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection.

5. Opioids

Opioids are potent pain relievers that can be used for severe pain. Drugs, such as oxycodone (OxyContin) combined with acetaminophen and hydrocodone (Vicodin), may help relieve pain by acting on brain cells and the body.

6. Surgery

Surgery is recommended for those who have structural abnormalities and have not responded to other medications and treatments. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of commonly asked questions and answers related to Back Pain.


What are the potential causes of Back Pain?

Some of the potential causes of Back Pain may include the following.

  • Muscle spasms and muscular tension

  • Falls, fractures, and other injuries

  • Damaged ligaments or muscles

  • Improper way of lifting very heavy objects

  • A sudden or an awkward movement

  • Disk bulging or ruptured discs

  • Spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis

  • Sciatica and arthritis

  • Poor posture

  • Age, weight, heredity, and psychological conditions

What are the symptoms of Back Pain?

Symptoms of Back pain may include increased pain with lifting and bending, pain that worsens even when you are resting, sitting, or standing, intermittent BP, morning stiffness which eventually lessens with activity, radiating pain from the back into the leg, hip, or buttocks,  and numbness in the legs and feet, etc.

Surgery for Back Pain is an option for whom?

Surgery is an option for individuals having severe, ongoing pain with distinct structural anomalies, nerve compression, which causes muscular weakness, and spinal cord compression, which inhibits everyday activities.


 Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


Want to post any comments?


Affordable Health Insurance for You & Your Family starting @ ₹20/day*

✅ 100% Room Rent Covered* ✅ Zero deductions at claims ✅ 7100+ Cashless Hospitals

quote icon

Check health insurance

quote icon