What are the Different Back Pain Symptoms? (with pictures)

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Stifness and sharp shooting pain are symptoms of lower back pain.
Stifness and sharp shooting pain are symptoms of lower back pain.

Perhaps the most common of the many back pain symptoms is stiffness anywhere in the back and an inability to move as normal. Dull aches in the shoulders and between the shoulder blades is indicative of high back pain, while stiffness in the lower back and sharp, shooting pains are symptoms of low back pain or sciatic nerve issues. Muscle spasms can also be included as one of the many back pain symptoms, one that often stems from overuse, injury, or severe strain. Stiffness and an inability to bend or stretch may point to arthritis as well.

Lower back pain caused by sciatica can occur in people of any age.
Lower back pain caused by sciatica can occur in people of any age.

Stiffness or tightness as back pain symptoms are usually due to overuse. Athletes may feel such tightness after a workout, or someone who begins using the back muscles after an extended period of dormancy will experience tightness after a workout. The muscles may have lactic acid built up in them, which can cause a dull ache or stiffness. Easy stretching can usually ease such symptoms, as can staying well hydrated throughout the day.

Many people experience muscle tightness after a workout.
Many people experience muscle tightness after a workout.

Dull aches in the back are also some of the most common back pain symptoms, and such aches can be due to several different factors. The most common cause of such pain is poor posture, and this type of pain is often felt by people who sit at desks for long periods of time, or by people who find themselves standing up all day long. When sitting for long periods of time, it is important to sit up straight with the back properly supported. An ergonomic chair can help encourage better posture, as can getting up out of the chair periodically to stretch and move around. People who stand all day long should be sure to sit for short periods of time throughout the day and try to stretch the arms, shoulders, neck, and lower back throughout the day as well.

Sharp, radiating pains in the lower back, buttocks, and legs can be indicative of sciatic nerve pain. The sciatic nerve extends down from the lower back to the back of the legs, and when the nerve gets pinched or pressure is somehow placed on them — often due to long periods of sitting — a sharp pain can be felt in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and down the legs to the ankle. Daily stretching and exercise can help prevent sciatic nerve pain, though in some more severe cases, a medical intervention may be necessary.

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    • Stifness and sharp shooting pain are symptoms of lower back pain.
      Stifness and sharp shooting pain are symptoms of lower back pain.
    • Lower back pain caused by sciatica can occur in people of any age.
      Lower back pain caused by sciatica can occur in people of any age.
    • Many people experience muscle tightness after a workout.
      Many people experience muscle tightness after a workout.