Symptoms and Signs of Low Back Pain

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2020

Doctor's Notes on Low Back Pain

Low back pain is pain usually located in the lumbar section of the spine; it is a symptom that may occur from many different processes. Is frequently intermittent and 85% of people with it will have no specific cause identified. Besides pain, other symptoms and signs of low back pain include

  • radiating of pain down the front,
  • side or back of your leg and may become worse with activity.
  • Numbness and/or
  • weakness of a leg may accompany the pain symptoms.

Common causes of low back pain include

  • disease (for example, shingles, but infections, fibromyalgia, spondylitis) or
  • injury to the muscles,
  • bones, and/or
  •  nerves in the lumbar spine that damage or compress nerves.

A common cause compression or nerve injury is a herniated lumbar disc that pinches or compresses a nerve that extends to your leg.

  • Spinal stenosis can cause back pain and pain down both legs.
  • Cauda equina syndrome, where the lower spinal cord is compressed, beside pain production, can produce signs and symptoms of possible loss of sensation and/or the inability to control bowel and bladder functions. The syndrome is a medical emergency.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.