Acute low back pain is common
Most people will experience acute (short-term, lasting less than two months) low back pain at some point in their lives. Your general practitioner (GP) can diagnose acute low back pain after listening to your story and examining you.
While the pain can be bad, fewer than 1% of people (one in 100 people) will have acute low back pain because of a more serious cause, such as a fracture or infection in your spine, pressure on your spinal cord or cancer.
Managing your acute low back pain
If your GP diagnoses you with acute low back pain, you are very likely to get better within four to six weeks.
During that time, you should try to maintain your usual routine and rest as you normally do. This includes going back to work, because you will recover more quickly if you keep doing your usual activities.
While the pain may seem worse when you move, movement will not cause any damage. Movement will:
- reduce your pain
- help you recover your normal range of movement
- help you get back to work and other normal activities more quickly.
Do not rest in bed, or on a couch, because this can make your pain worse and delay your recovery.
When you might need urgent medical attention
You should seek urgent medical attention if you develop any of the following:
- difficulty passing urine
- the sensation that you need to pass urine that is not there
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- numbness or tingling around your genitals, between your legs or buttocks
- impaired sexual function, loss of erections or sensation
- significant loss of power or a change in the sensation in both legs