It’s not uncommon to experience strong lower back pain as the result of an injury—a slipped disc, strained muscle, etc.

Lower back injuries are incredibly common among athletes and weight trainees.

In fact, one study estimated that up to 70% of people will experience lower back pain over the course of their lives.

But just because it’s common, that doesn’t mean it’s something to take lightly.

Especially when it’s more than just a “little” pain.

Sometimes, strong lower back pain can be a sign that something more serious is wrong.

Knowing how to recognize that sign could very well save you weeks, months, or even years of needless suffering!

Strong Lower Back Pain: Acute or Chronic?

Let’s start off by diving into what are essentially the two types of back pain you’ll experience.

Acute pain is typically a sharp, sudden pain brought on by an injury. It’s the strong lower back pain you’ll feel if you slip a disc, tear a muscle, or fracture a bone. It can be caused by awkward movements, incorrect lifting techniques, overuse, strenuous exercise, even stress. The pain will typically be sharp at first, but slowly decrease over the course of time as the injury heals. Acute pain lasts no more than six weeks, and there are no long-term problems responsible for the pain.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain that lasts for longer than six weeks. It may set in suddenly—as the result of an injury or the other causes of pain listed above—but instead of dissipating, it may actually increase. And it will definitely last longer than six weeks. Sometimes, it can last for months or years, getting worse and worse. Any new injuries can make the existing pain grow, but there will always be an underlying cause responsible for the pain.

Understanding Your Strong Lower Back Pain

Most of the time, your back injury will manifest the most common symptoms:

  • Numbness or tingling in one or both legs, as well as lower extremity weakness

  • Tightness or stiffness in your spinal muscles, most commonly after you sit, stand, or lie down for extended periods

  • Aching, throbbing, shooting, or burning pain along your spine

  • Sleeping difficulties due to the pain

If the injury or damage causing the pain is relatively minor, you may experience just the various types of pain. If the injury or damage is more severe, however, that’s when the other symptoms might set in.

But how can you know if the strong lower back pain is serious, something to be worried about?

Well, there are a few sensations that can be a pretty clear sign that there is more going on than just a minor injury:

  1. Radiating pain – You might feel the pain of a lower back injury in your legs, especially if you injure your sciatica. However, if the pain moves or “shoots” through your gluteal muscles and down the backs of one or both legs, it could be a sign that the injured and swollen tissue around your spine is compressing your spinal nerves. This is a much more serious condition and will require medical intervention.

  2. Incontinence – It’s very uncommon for an injury to your lower back to loosen or weaken the muscles of your bladder or bowels. If you feel back pain and suffer from incontinence (even just a little!), it could be an indication that the spinal nerves are being compressed, or there is an actual infection in your spine (such as meningitis or discitis). These are both serious conditions, so you should immediately visit your doctor.

  3. Sharp pain – Most of the time, the onset of strong lower back pain will be sharp (due to muscles, joints, or soft tissue tearing), but the pain will eventually settle into a dull ache. But if the sharpness persists, it could indicate more serious tears in the muscles or ligaments, or even damage to one of the organs near your spine. If the sharp pain lasts, you need to take it seriously.

  4. Numbness – There is a certain amount of tingling or numbness common with lower back injuries, but it’s always something to be concerned about and pay close attention to. If the numbness or “pins and needles” feeling in your glutes and/or groin persists, it could indicate a more serious nerve condition.

Limb weakness – Swelling in your spine may decrease nerve signals sent to your leg muscles, which can lead to weakness in the lower limbs. Sciatica and spinal stenosis can also cause the weakness, however, and may be more serious than just a minor injury. Sudden leg weakness may also be the result of a stroke. Any form of weakness in your lower body is something to be concerned about—enough to take it to a doctor!

Take Strong Lower Back Pain Seriously!

Back pain is not something to take lightly, especially if it’s strong and persistent. You may find that it could end your career—or very nearly kill you, like it did me!

That’s right, back pain nearly put an end to my career as an RCMP SWAT officer, even after years spent in the Canadian Armed Services Special Forces. I thought I was bulletproof, but I was so wrong.

You can read more about my story in the Back on Track program, and learn about the mistake that nearly cost me everything.

That mistake was ignoring the dangerous-yet-little-known syndrome behind so many different types of back pain.

Once I learned what this syndrome was doing to my body, I knew I had to take action.

Not just to change my own life, but help others change theirs, too.

Give Back on Track a try, and I guarantee it will improve your life and give you a practical way to manage—and prevent—strong lower back pain before it does you real harm!