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Definition : Backache is pain or discomfort in the back, most commonly in the lower back region.

Causes: There are many causes for backache. In about 75% of the cases the exact cause is not identifiable. As for the other 25% the causes may include:-

  • Muscular
    • Muscle sprain
    • Muscle tear (sport injury)
    • Muscle fatigue
  • Bone
    • Prolapsed or ruptured intervertebral disc
    • Spine fracture
    • Deformed bone
    • Bone cancer
  • Others
    • Incorrect posture
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
    • Growth or cancer within the pelvic cavity
    • Urinary calculi (stones)
    • Psychological
      • Stress related

Signs & Symptoms

When to see a doctor?

  • Feeling of numbness in buttock, legs, thighs and foot
  • Weakness or total paralysis of the leg muscles
  • Pain spreading down to the leg
  • Sharp pain
  • Severely restricting the person’s movement and performance of daily activities
  • When there are associated symptoms like:-
    • Fever
    • Low abdominal pain
    • Pain during passing of urine or during defecation
    • Headache
  • Associated with menses


Depending on the cause, complications of untreated backache can be:-

  • Weakness or paralysis of the leg muscles
  • Permanent deformity
  • Undetected cancer

If the causes of backache are from internal organ like PID or any gynaecological organ and left untreated, this may lead to infertility and other complications


Uncomplicated backache can be relieved by:

  • Adequate rest
  • Back streches
  • Physiotherapy
  • Local application of liniments
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Treat the underlying cause of backache for example PID


  • Practicing a correct posture while sitting, standing and lifting weight
  • Take a break to stretch your back
  • Avoid injury to your back
  • Regular medical check up, for example, Pap Smear to detect cervical cancer
  • Maintain an ideal body mass index
  • If you have reached menopause, get adequate calcium and other nutrition to prevent osteoporosis
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle


Rehabilitation involves taking medication like Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatony Drugs (NSAIDs), physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Last Reviewed : 02 May 2012
Writer : Dr. Hamdan Buyong
Reviewer : Dr. Heselynn Hussein