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Symptoms of back pain

Back pain is common, so it is likely that you will experience it at some point in your life. It will usually get better on its own within weeks or months, so medical treatment may not be necessary.

Often, rest or using over the counter pain medications will be all that you need, but if you are worried, or if the pain is not going away, our doctors can offer advice, reassurance and possible treatment.

Are certain people more susceptible to back pain?

Back pain can affect people of all ages. However, as you get older, you’re more likely to experience it because of normal day-to-day wear and tear.

If you have suffered a strain or an injury, or you have an existing condition, such as fibromyalgia, or are overweight, this could be the reason behind your back pain.

Likewise, people that work in a sedentary position, such as at a desk, can be more likely to develop it. And if you participate in high-impact sports or exercise without warming up properly first, you could risk hurting your back. We will look at more causes of back pain further down the page.

Back pain symptoms

The symptoms of back pain will depend on what’s causing it and where it is located in your back. The pain may come on suddenly, or it may develop over time. It could be very painful, or just a dull ache. The pain may get worse when you move, and you could get relief from it by lying down flat – it really varies from person to person.

Different types of back pain

Lumbago

This is lower back pain, which can be mild to severe. The pain can come on quickly, or it can develop over a long period of time. It is particularly prevalent in younger people who work in active jobs, or in the elderly. Often it will go on its own, but sometimes it may develop into a chronic condition.

Upper and middle back pain

This is less common than lumbago, but can be caused by overuse or strain of the muscles. Your posture may also be to blame, or it could be a sign of another condition. Again, this usually clears up on is own, but if it does not, or if you are worried, you can speak to a doctor for further advice.

What can back pain be a symptom of?

As we have already mentioned, you can experience back pain for many different reasons. It is usually nothing serious and will get better without the need for treatment. However, sometimes the back pain you have could be caused by an underlying issue, including:

Slipped / bulging / herniated / ruptured disc

The disc of cartilage between the bones in your spine may slip out of place, bulge, herniate or rupture. This can put pressure on the nerve in your back, causing pain. A slipped disc is usually treated with pain medication and physiotherapy.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes the spine’s vertebrae to fuse together, limiting movement and causing a rigid spine.

Kidney infection / kidney stones

Pain in the back at waist level where your kidneys are could be caused by a kidney infection, urinary tract infection or be due to kidney stones. This can cause pain on the right or left side of the back.

Sciatica

Sciatica happens when the nerve that runs from your pelvis to your feet becomes irritated. You may have back pain as well as pain, tingling or numbness in your leg, bottom or groin area.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is when you have a loss of bone density and thinning of your bones, which can lead to compression fractures in your back and cause severe pain.

Fungal or bacterial infection in your spine

This may include staphylococcus, tuberculosis or E.coli.

Cancer or a tumour

This is rare, but back pain could be a symptom of cancer or a nonmalignant tumour.

Pregnancy

In women, lower back pain causes could be attributed to pregnancy. In the later stages of pregnancy, as the baby gets bigger, you can often get back pain.

When to see a doctor about back pain

if you have back pain along with other symptoms, you should speak to a doctor, including:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty weeing or pooing
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling in your back
  • Numbness around your legs, genitals or bottom
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • A fever
  • If it happens after a trauma, such as a fall or bang to the head.

It is also recommended that you see a doctor if your back pain has not gone within 6 weeks of resting up.

At Push Doctor, you can see a GP online, on any device, on the go, at home or work. They can speak to you over video consultation, listen to your symptoms and suggest the right treatment to get you feeling better as soon as possible.  

Back pain treatments

Our doctors will be able to discuss a suitable back pain remedy with you. This may be medication or some tips on preventing further problems.

Treatment at home may include back pain exercises, gentle stretching or other moves, which can be recommended by a doctor. Your back pain may start to improve if you take regular gentle exercise, such as swimming or pilates. Improving your posture could also help, so make sure you sit correctly during daily activities, when at a desk or watching TV.

Stay as active as possible because exercise will help to strengthen your back and keep it strong to minimise further back problems.

If you are overweight this could be having an effect on your back pain, so exercising and eating a healthy diet will help you to lose weight. This will help reduce your risk of developing back pain.

How can Push Doctor help?

You can see a GP about your back pain at a time that suits you. Our doctors are available 7 days a week and can offer you advice, diagnosis and treatment that will be suitable for your back. They can also refer you to a specialist for further treatment, such as physiotherapy, if needed.

What we can't prescribe

Our doctors will always have your best interest in mind and recommend the treatment that they think is the most suitable.

Please note that they can't prescribe diazepam, tramadol, or codeine.

All our prescriptions are issued at the consulting doctor's discretion.