Back pain is the common reason people miss work or go to the physician. It is also one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.

There are multiple risk factors for back pain that may include a sedentary lifestyle, occupational activities, pregnancy, poor physical fitness, obesity and excess weight, older age, and medical conditions, such as cancer and arthritis.

What are the symptoms of back pain?

  • Signs and symptoms of back pain depend on the underlying cause and can include
  • Muscle aches
  • Sciatica (pain that radiates down your leg)
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that improves with reclining
  • Pain that worsens with lifting, bending, walking or standing

What are the leading causes of back pain?

Back pain often develops without an apparent cause. In a majority of cases, your doctor can identify the cause with a test or an imaging study. 

Body conditions commonly linked to upper and lower back pain include:


  • A muscle spasm
  • Strained muscles or ligaments
  • Muscle tension
  • Damaged disks
  • Injuries, fractures, or falls

Structural Problems

  • Ruptured discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Compression fractures
  • Kidney problems (kidney infection or kidney stones)

Movement and Posture

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Twisting
  • Muscle tension
  • Over-stretching
  • Pushing, lifting, pulling, or carrying something heavy
  • Bending awkwardly or for long periods
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Tech neck (straining the neck forward, such as when using a computer or a smartphone
  • Long driving sessions
  • Sleeping on a mattress that keeps the spine straight

Medical Conditions

  • Cauda equina syndrome
  • Cancer of the spine
  • Infection of the spine
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Shingles

When to see a doctor?

You should consult a physician if you moderate to severe back pain or you experience any numbness or tingling

  • That does not improve with rest
  • After an injury or fall
  • With a fever
  • With weakness
  • With unexplained weight loss

How to treat back pain?

Back pain usually subsides with rest and common home remedies. Sometimes, medical treatment is necessary and may include;

Alternative Remedies

  • Physical therapy
  • Botox
  • Traction
  • Spinal decompression therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture


  • OTC painkillers such as ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Topical rubs and ointments that contain ingredients like lidocaine and ibuprofen
  • Opioids (Oxycodone)
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin)
  • Steroid injections


  • Fusion
  • Artificial disk
  • Diskectomy
  • Partially removing a vertebra