Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain

Low back pain is pain and stiffness in the small of the back. With low back pain, pain may also occur in the buttocks or legs. Simple exercises and good posture can help most cases of low back pain. In a few cases, medications, physical therapy or surgery may be needed.

The spine is made up of ring-like bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are stacked on top of each other and form a strong column that keeps the head and body standing up. Between each vertebra is a jelly-like disk that has a tough outside edge. These disks are like cushions between the vertebrae. Muscles and tissues hold vertebrae in the right place. The lower back consists of five vertebrae. These vertebrae make up the inward curve of the lower back.

What causes low back pain?

The most common cause of low back pain is overstretched or injured muscles that support the lower back. Muscles and connective tissues can become hurt from lifting or carrying heavy objects incorrectly. Muscles in the back can also become weak from a lack of exercise. Exercises to make the muscles in the back and abdomen strong can lessen pain. Low back pain can also be caused by:

How is low back pain treated?

Many times, low back pain can be helped by exercise and keeping good posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping. You can also learn ways to protect your back when bending, lifting, and exercising. People who are overweight might lessen low back pain by losing weight.

What can I do if I have low back pain?




Lifting objects



This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: 4/23/2013