Back problems

A woman holding her back in pain

Back problems are very common and can be caused by staying in one position too long or lifting something awkwardly.

Most back problems start for no obvious reason, which can be very frustrating.

Your back problem may cause hot, burning, shooting, or stabbing pains in your back and sometimes into one or both of your legs. You may also get pins and needles. These can be due to nerve pain.

The spine is strong and back problems are rarely due to any serious disease or damage. Most back problems settle within six weeks. You will not normally need an X-ray or an MRI scan.

If you require more in depth information about back injuries, you can click on the relevant links in the 'Health A-Z articles' side panel. If you are worried about any of the information contained within the NHS inform Health A-Z, you can discuss it with a healthcare professional.

The PDFs in the 'Self Management Advice' panel can be downloaded or printed for anyone who has back problems.

Facts and figures

  • 90% of the UK population get back pain at some point.
  • Most back pain settles within six weeks.
  • Back pain can return.

Further information

Health A-Z Articles

Find out more about the symptoms and causes of back specific musculoskeletal disorders and the treatments available.

Self Management Advice

These leaflets provide a summary of information to help with the self management of back disorders.

Back problems PDF (559 KB) Back in control PDF (534 KB)Physio exercises PDF

Last updated: 27 May 2015