Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why does my back hurt?"
Two weeks ago, after getting back from the gym, my back started really hurting. It's a deep ache that comes and comes, way down on my back. It sort of just throbs for about half an hour to two hours and then goes away, usually after I lay down. I've never had back pain in the past and I was only running at the gym, so I don't know what caused it. I am 24 and male.
Back pain accounts for a significant percentage of visits to the primary care physician. The vast majority of back pain is musculoskeletal in nature, especially in someone young and without concurrent medical problems or symptoms such as fevers, chills or other signs of infection. The fact that your back started hurting after working out increases the odds that your pain is due to a strain of some of the muscles or ligaments in your lower back. The majority of this type of back pain will resolve within 6-8 weeks, and often within 2-3 weeks. If one particular activity brought about the pain, it would be advisable to avoid repeating that activity as it may be slowing down the healing process. In the meantime, you should continue with your other routine activities and avoid strict bedrest, as that can make the problem worse. If your pain is significant, you can try taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen. You can also try Tylenol if you prefer. If your symptoms are persistent after conservative management or if you develop any other symptoms (such as fevers or chills) then you should consult your primary care doctor sooner.