Low back pain is very common; about 80 percent of adults will have low back pain in their lifetime.

By far the most common cause of lower back pain is a muscle strain or other soft tissue damage.

Most of the time, this is from normal wear and tear on the body and can increase over time. Some low back pain can arise from sprains (overstretching or tearing ligaments), strains (torn tendons or muscles) or other injuries.

This type of lower back pain can progress rapidly. Common types of low back pain include:

  • Herniated or ruptured discs
  • Sciatica and other radiculopathy
  • Spinal stenosis

Most low back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks and gets better on its own.

Common symptoms of upper and middle back pain are:

  • A dull, burning, or sharp pain
  • Muscle tightness or stiffness

Get emergency medical care if you have:

  • Back pain after an accident
  • Back pain with chest pain
  • Weakness in your arms or legs
  • Loss of control over your bowels or bladder
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, chest, or belly