Lower back pain (lumbago) can be a result of conditions affecting the bony lumbar spine, intervertebral discs (discs between the vertebrae), ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area.
Pain in the legs, neck and shoulders can also be felt as back pain. However, it may be caused by another condition and you should consider seeing your doctor if you think the following might apply to you:
- pain in the lower back that moves down the buttocks into one or both of the legs may be a symptom of sciatica (caused by pressure on the nerve endings that come out of the spine)
- soreness in the lower back, muscle weakness, tight muscles and loss of bladder control may be the result of a slipped disc
- back pain, buttock pain, swollen joints and tendons and extreme tiredness are common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis
- lower back pain, stiffness, numbness and tingling can be caused by spondylolisthesis (a bone in the spine slipping out of position)
- pain in the joints (including the back) when walking, and stiffness first thing in the morning are symptoms of arthritis
- painful stiffness of the shoulder, which makes it very difficult to dress, drive or sleep, may be a sign of a frozen shoulder
- neck pain and stiffness, headaches and lower back pain following an accident are common symptoms of whiplash.
The following serious conditions can also cause back pain:
- a broken bone in the spine
- an infection
Back pain can be brought on, or triggered, by common activities, such as:
- bending awkwardly
- lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling incorrectly
- slouching in chairs
- standing or bending down for long periods
- driving in a hunched position
- driving for long periods without taking a break
- overuse of the muscles, usually due to sport or repetitive movements (repetitive strain injury).