Information in simple English

What is back pain?

Back pain refers to discomfort in the back.

Based on the affected section, back pain is classified as:

  • neck pain (cervical)
  • middle back pain (thoracic)
  • lower back pain (lumbar): most common affected location 
  • or coccydynia (tailbone or sacral pain)



Back pain is classified according to how long it lasts.

  • Acute back discomfort might continue up to six weeks.
  • Subacute back pain might continue anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Back discomfort that lasts longer than 12 weeks is chronic.


Back pain can be anything from a dull ache in the muscles to a shooting, searing, or stabbing pain. Discomfort may travel down your leg or intensify when you bend, twist, raise, stand, or walk.



  • Strain of a muscle or ligament.
  • Disks that have bulged or burst.
  • Arthritis. The lower back can be affected by osteoarthritis.
  • Osteoporosis.