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Why does my back ache constantly?

I'm 22 year old, customer service employee. About two years ago I started getting minor back aches in the lower portion of my back. Recently they started getting much worse, to the point where it keeps me from sleeping. I've tried Icy-Hot Pads and Biofreeze and while both dull the pain neither one actually relieves it. What could be causing this?
To begin, a little more information would be very helpful. Have you noticed the pain radiate downwards towards your buttocks or down your legs? Does the pain get worse when standing, sitting or laying flat? If you bend forward, such as on a shopping cart, do you notice any change in the pain? Have you had any trauma to your lower back? These questions would be very helpful when discussing this with your medical professional. There are many causes for back pain, and some are related to the muscles surrounding your low back and some are related to the nerves as they travel within your lower spine and exit from small openings in the bone along the side of your spine. It is recommended that you be evaluated by your primary care doctor who can better assess your medical history and presenting symptoms and decide upon the appropriate work up. This may include lab tests, or imaging studies and possibly even a referral to a specialist depending on what is found. Treatment options vary and can start with more conservative management options like physical therapy, massage, and epidural injections. Surgical interventions are only considered if imaging studies show a pathology that is treatable and correlates with your symptoms.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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