Many musculoskeletal painsare often easily diagnosed and successfully treated, unfortunately lower back muscle pain is not one of them. The cause can sometimes be elusive, therefore the diagnosis can be incorrect and then the wrong treatments ensues.


“Pain is a signal something is wrong.”

It the lower back muscle pain is short lasting and mild it may be nothing to worry about, on the flip side if it severe and lasts for a few days up to a week or more, you body is most likely trying to tell you something is incorrect. Failing to listen to your body’s signals can make issues worse, extending the duration of lower back muscle pain, often for unnecessary durations.

General rules as to when to refer to a doctor are:

If the pain is severe

If there is swelling

If you hear a cracking or snapping at the time of the injury

If you cannot perform your normal day to day duties

If there is disturbed function following an accident or injury such as nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, paralysis or weakness.

If the pain continues beyond 7-10 days.


Low back pain affects the back muscles in the lower part of the back. It can be described as:

· Acute if it is less than 6 weeks

· Sub-acute if it 6-12 weeks

· Chronic if it is more than 12 weeks

Many people suffer from lower back muscle pain, costing millions in lost work as well as medical and insurance resources. Lower back muscle pain is one of the most common back complaints and effects four out of five people at some point in their lives. Although most lower back muscle pain will heal out within a few days to a few weeks.


·      80% of society will suffer back pain of some type

Lower back muscle pain

·      88% will be asymptomatic in 6 weeks

·      98% in 24 weeks

·      99% in 52 weeks

·      97% of causes are unknown

·      2% attributed to disc problems

·      29% will require conservative treatment only

·      1% will require surgery

·      The rest will recover spontaneously2


Postural deformities and leg length, in general, don’t seem to predispose to lower back muscle pain. Studies of static work postures indicate an increased risk of lower back pain sitting with a bent over working posture seems to carry significant risk, for example sitting in a car for more than half a work day can lead to three times the risk of disc herniation.3

·      Physically heavy, static work postures

·      Frequent bending and twisting, lifting and forceful movements

·      Repetitive work and vibrations

·      Tallness leads to increased risk

·      Sciatica is more frequent in obese people

·      Weak trunk muscles and decreased endurance

·      Coughing – leading to decreased blood supply to essential areas

·      Social factors i.e alcoholism, history of divorce, level of education, history of depression.4


Lower back pain means a pain or ache somewhere between the bottom of the ribs at the back and the top of the legs. That may begin suddenly or follow obvious strain or injury or it can come ‘out of the blue’.

It is possible that pain may also travel for example down the buttocks to the foot. It can be worse bending and is often worse when sitting. Agonizing pain can be experienced when rolling over in bed or sitting up. Coughing or sneezing may aggravate the pain. Back muscles may also go into painful spasms.

Lower back muscle pain may be combined with pain in the leg traveling down the knee. This is otherwise known as sciatica, because the main nerve in the leg (the sciatica nerve) is being irritated by pressure on it..

If in doubt consult a health care person such as a doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist an osteopath or myotherapist.


The first thing to rule out is other obvious conditions which may cause back pain. You really need to be on the watch out for ‘red flags’ or warning signs, which can be factors that may require more rapid treatment. They may point to something more serious than a mechanical problem. If any number of these apply to you it is recommended that you see your doctor.

·      You are younger than 2o when you first get back pain

·      You are older than 55 when you first get back pain

·      The pain follows a violent injury

·      The pain is constant and getting worse

·      You have had or have cancer

·      You are on steroids

·      You are drug abuser

·      You have HIV

·      You are generally unwell

·      You have significant and unexplained weight loss

·      You have significant trouble bending forward over a period of time

·      You have developed nervous system problems – numbness, loss of power etc

·      You have developed an obvious structural deformities

·      If the pain continues over 4 weeks

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