Acute Back Pain

Acute back pain is pain that comes on suddenly. Such pain most often originates in the lower back.

If your acute back pain does not resolve within a few days, call our office at (855) 77-SPINE for an evaluation. If the acute back pain results from trauma, such as a car accident or fall, see a physician immediately.

Acute Back Pain Symptoms

Acute back pain varies according to the individual. Some patients feel a dull ache, while others experience sharp, stabbing pain. In many cases, mobility is seriously affected.

The pain is not necessarily limited to the back, but may include the feet, legs, and hips. Numbness and tingling may also occur. Patients with additional symptoms, such as incontinence, should see a doctor immediately.

Acute Back Pain Causes

Most often, acute back pain occurs because of muscle or ligament injuries. Patients may feel lower back pain after heavy lifting or participating in sporting activities. Other causes of acute back pain include:

● arthritis

● fractures

● herniated disc

● infection

● kidney stones and other kidney issues

● sciatica

● tumor

Pregnant women may experience acute back pain. Certain diseases affecting the female reproductive tract, including uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts or tumors may cause acute low back pain.

Diagnosing Acute Back Pain

The doctor observes the patient and performs a physical examination. A medical history is taken, which includes when the back pain occurred and what movements trigger pain. Diagnostic tests used to pinpoint the source of acute back pain include:

● X-Rays

● CT Scan


If the doctor suspects an infection, blood is taken for testing.

Acute Back Pain Treatment

Treatment for acute back pain depends on the underlying cause. In many cases, conservative treatment helps patients with acute back pain. This includes icing or applying heat to the affected area, taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief, and following doctor-recommended exercises.

The doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant for temporary relief. Topical analgesics may also help. Some patients might benefit from formal physical therapy, or at least doctor-approved exercises. Massage therapy is also useful for some patients.

The doctor may suggest an exercise regimen aimed at preventing recurrence of acute back pain. This is important, as many patients do experience additional episodes of acute back pain and the actual pain tends to worsen each time. Faithfully following an exercise regimen developed to strengthen back muscles lessens the odds of another acute back pain event.

Additional Treatment for Back Pain

The majority of patients with acute back pain improve significantly within six weeks. If a patient is still experiencing discomfort after that period, further testing and treatment may be necessary.

Acute back pain does not usually require surgery, but there are exceptions. For example, if testing finds that a herniated disc is causing the acute back pain, some sort of surgery may be necessary. That may take the form of spinal decompression surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve.

However, herniated discs and related back issues do not always require surgical treatment. Many of these problems resolve on their own using conservative techniques.

Contacting an Elite Spine & Orthopedics Doctor

If you experience acute back pain, contact our office at (855) 77-SPINE for an examination. An experienced doctor can help discuss treatment options to relieve your back pain.