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Back Pain Symptoms

The type and severity of back pain largely depends on the underlying problems. However, various causes of back pain may have similar symptoms, such as:

  • Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along your spine, from the base of the neck to the hips.
  • Sharp pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back, particularly after lifting heavy objects or engaging in other activity that stresses the back
  • Prolonged ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods.
  • Severe muscle spasms in the lower back when standing straight.

If the your back problems are caused by pressure on your nerve roots, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Sciatica- a set of symptoms caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. Aside from pain, numbness, muscular weakness, tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg also occur. Symptoms of sciatica are usually only felt on one side of the body.
  • Nerve-related problems, leg numbness, or loss of bladder or bowel control.

Symptoms of arthritis of the spine

  • Stiffness of the spine in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity.
  • Back pain that starts gradually but the severity increases over time
  • Pain or tenderness in the shoulders, hips, knees or heels
  • Limited range of motion. You may find it difficult to bend or walk
  • Sound of bone rubbing on bone
  • Spinal deformity

Pain caused by arthritis may lessen when you move around. Symptoms caused by arthritis and the symptoms of back injury are often similar and usually occur together.

Danger signs

In most people, back pain usually clear up quite quickly. However, you should visit your health care professional as soon as possible your back pain occurs with the following symptoms:

  • Fever and general body aches
  • Redness or swelling on the back
  • Persistent back pain that doesn't ease even by rest or lying down
  • Pain that travels to the chest
  • Pain that travels toward you hands or down to your feet. Such pain may mean that you have a herniated disc or other injured tissue causes pressure against the nerves in your neck or back.
  • A recent trauma or injury to your back,
  • Loss of bladder control or bowel control. This my indicate that some damaged tissue maybe compressing on the nerves in your back
  • Inability to urinate
  • Muscle weakness on the upper and lower extremities. This can mean that something is compressing on the nerves that carry messages from your brain to your limbs.


Katz, J. Heal. 2007. Your Aching Back: What a Harvard Doctor Wants You to Know About Finding Relief and Keeping Your Back Strong. McGraw-Hill

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