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Acute Low Back Pain

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is acute low back pain?

Acute low back pain is sudden discomfort that lasts up to 6 weeks and makes activity difficult.

What causes or increases my risk for acute low back pain?

Conditions that affect the spine, joints, or muscles can cause back pain. These may include arthritis, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column), muscle tension, or breakdown of the spinal discs. The following increase your risk for back pain:

How is the cause of acute low back pain diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and examine you. He or she may ask when you last had low back pain and how it started. Show him or her where you feel the pain and what makes it better or worse. Tell your provider about the type of pain you have, how bad it is, and how long it lasts. Tell him or her if your pain worsens at night or when you lie on your back.

Pain Scale

How is acute low back pain treated?

The goal of treatment is to relieve your pain and help you be able to do your regular activities. Most people with acute low back pain get better within 4 to 6 weeks. You may need any of the following:

What can I do to prevent low back pain?

How can I take care of myself if I have acute low back pain?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.