Constant lower back pain may occur for a range of reasons, including strains and injury, muscle tension, a herniated disk, or chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

Lower back pain may occur due to problems with the vertebrae, disks, ligaments, or nerves in the lower back area. Lower back pain may feel sharp, stabbing, dull, or aching.

Doctors may refer to constant, persistent back pain as chronic back pain. Chronic back pain is pain that occurs daily for longer than 12 weeks. The pain may come on slowly or suddenly.

This article looks at constant lower back pain, what it may mean, how doctors may treat it, and more.

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Common causes of constant lower back pain may include the following:

Other possible causes of lower back pain may include:

If a person’s lower back pain does not improve with home treatments and rest or it worsens, people can see a doctor.

People should see a doctor if their lower back pain lasts for longer than a few weeks, or if they also have any of the following accompanying symptoms:

To diagnose lower back pain and find the underlying cause, a doctor will assess a person’s symptoms and carry out a physical examination. They may do tests, such as:

Back pain may be serious if it occurs after a recent fall or injury, or if the pain is severe or worsening. If people have changes in bowel and bladder function, tingling, or numbness, it may indicate a neurological condition, affecting the nerves.

These symptoms can indicate there is a spinal nerve injury that needs surgery right away, such as cauda equina syndrome.

In some people, back pain may indicate a problem with the kidneys, such as kidney stones or an infection. Kidney pain may feel like a dull ache higher in the back, either on one or both sides.

Back pain may also be due to cancer if it has spread to the bones. The spine is the most common area of bone metastases.

If a tumor presses on the spine, it can cause compression of the spinal cord. People will need immediate medical treatment for spinal cord compression to prevent severe complications.

If people with back pain also have any history of cancer or vascular or arterial disease, they can see a doctor to find out the cause.

Treating and managing lower back pain may depend on the underlying cause but may include the following:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication, such as acetaminophen
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to lessen swelling and pain
  • applying heat or ice
  • massage
  • an ultrasound
  • electrical stimulation
  • regular exercise, including stretching, weightlifting, and cardio, as appropriate
  • yoga or Pilates
  • physical therapy to increase the range of motion and strengthen muscles
  • muscle relaxants, such as methocarbamol, may help if people have muscle tension or spasms, but they can cause drowsiness
  • steroids, which people may take orally or get as an injection into their spine, to reduce inflammation
  • back braces, which may wrap around the lower back and provide support or comfort
  • manipulation therapy, such as chiropractic treatment, which works to adjust the body and may reduce pain

A combination of medications and physical therapies is usually effective in managing or treating lower back pain and may help people continue to do all the activities they would usually do.

People may require surgery if no other treatments are effective for at least 6 months to a year. Surgery may be suitable for certain spinal conditions if a doctor can identify the clear cause of the lower back pain.

Surgical options depend on the underlying cause but may include:

  • spinal fusion, which joins painful vertebrae together
  • a disk replacement or diskectomy for a herniated disk
  • laminectomy, which removes bone spurs or thickened ligaments to relieve pressure on the spine
  • vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, which uses an injection of cement to treat a compression fracture

This section answers some frequently asked questions about lower back pain.

What causes lower back pain in females?

Along with the causes mentioned in this article, causes of lower back pain, specifically in females, may occur due to:

Why does my lower back hurt all of a sudden?

Lower back pain may occur suddenly due to injury, which may occur from an accident, trauma, fall, or lifting something heavy or with incorrect technique.

Constant lower back pain may occur for many reasons, including strains, a herniated disk, arthritis, or spinal conditions.

People may be able to treat lower back pain with OTC pain relief, physical therapy, and exercise. If home treatments are not effective in treating back pain after a few weeks, or if the pain worsens, people can see a doctor.

People should see a doctor immediately if their back pain occurs after a fall or injury, or if they have any additional symptoms, such as tingling and numbness or changes in their bowel and bladder function.