Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life. It may be triggered by bad posture while sitting or standing, bending awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly. It’s not generally caused by a serious condition.
In most cases back pain will improve in a few weeks or months, although some people experience long-term pain or pain that keeps coming back.
Types of back pain
Backache is most common in the lower back (lumbago), although it can be felt anywhere along your spine, from your neck down to your hips.
Read information on neck pain and shoulder pain, which are covered separately.
Sometimes back pain can be caused by an injury or disease, such as:
a slipped disc – when one of the discs in the spine is damaged and presses on the nerves
sciatica – irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which causes pain, numbness and tingling that travels down one leg
whiplash – neck injury caused by a sudden impact
frozen shoulder – inflammation around the shoulder that causes pain and stiffness
ankylosing spondylitis – a long-term condition that causes pain and stiffness where the spine meets the pelvis
The rest of this information will focus on back pain that doesn’t have an obvious cause. Doctors call this non-specific back pain.