Back pain is pain felt in the back that usually originates from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.
The pain can often be divided into neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain or tailbone pain. It may have a sudden onset or it may be a chronic pain; it may be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may be in the upper back, and might radiate into the arm and hand or in the lower back, and might radiate into the leg or foot. Back pain may be accompanied by symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.
In the U.S., acute low back pain is the fifth most common reason for seeing a physician. About nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults have back pain every year.
The spine is a complex interconnecting network of nerves, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and all are capable of producing pain. Large nerves that originate in the spine and go to the legs and arms can make pain radiate to the extremities.