Back pain is a very common condition and is rarely due to anything serious. Usually it is due to 'mechanical' or 'non-specific' back pain which can be a result of aches and pains occurring in the joints and muscles of the spine, with no obvious cause.
There are some rarer and more serious causes of back pain which need to be considered if your pain does not settle within a few weeks, and your GP can assess for this.
Mechanical back pain tends to be worse when moving and the pain will vary depending on your posture or certain positions.
A slipped disc or sciatica may cause numbness, tingling or weakness which can spread into the buttocks and the lower legs. You should see your GP if you experience any of these symptoms, or if you have back pain in association with other symptoms such as fever or weight loss.
Medical conditions that cause back pain include the following:
A slipped (prolapsed) disc
Sciatica (irritation of the nerve that runs from the lower back to the feet)
Ankylosing spondylitis (swelling of the joints in the spine) – this causes pain and stiffness that's usually worse in the morning and improves with movement
Spondylolisthesis (a bone in the spine slipping out of position) – this can cause lower back pain and stiffness, as well as numbness and a tingling sensation
During an episode of mechanical back pain, it is advisable to take pain killers and to keep active by continuing with your normal daily activities, but avoid putting any strain on the back e.g. through heavy lifting. Simple stretching exercises can help which a physiotherapist can work with you on. In the long term, back and core strengthening exercises can help to prevent recurrences.