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What are Common Causes of Sudden Back Pain?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Sudden back pain is a common problem and can have many different causes, ranging from muscle strain to something more severe, such as pneumonia. Very often, the location of the pain can help a medical professional find the source. Diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or blood work, can also help to determine the cause of the pain. Treatment options will depend on the cause of the problem as well as the overall health of the patient.

If the sudden pain is felt in the upper portion of the back, it can sometimes be a symptom of a heart attack. Even though the heart is located in the front of the chest, the pain of a heart attack can sometimes be felt in and around the shoulder blades. Pain in this area of the back can also be due to a muscle strain, caused by pushing, pulling, or lifting. A dislocated or herniated disc in the spine often causes sudden pain in the upper portion of the back as well as in the neck.

Sudden back pain in the middle of the back is often due to problems with one or both kidneys, such as an infection or kidney stone. Problems with the liver and the gallbladder may also cause pain in this area. Once again, problems with the discs found in the spine can also cause middle back pain, as can any type of injury to the muscles in this area.

Pinched nerves often cause back pain, particularly in the lower part of the back. A bowel blockage or obstruction tends to cause lower back pain, which can strike suddenly. Appendicitis typically causes pain in the lower abdominal area, but it can often be the cause of sudden pain in the lower back as well.

With there being so many potential causes for sudden back pain, it is important for sufferers to discuss individual symptoms with a medical professional right away. Very often, the cause of the pain can be easily treated with rest or medications, but sometimes, the pain is caused by very serious conditions that can be life threatening if left untreated for a prolonged period of time. It is always best for people to get a medical evaluation when any kind of pain is present, but when the pain appears suddenly, it is much more crucial to get a proper diagnosis.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Mar 19, 2013

I had this happen to me last year. I had sudden lower back pain, on the left side to be more precise. It turned out to be a kidney stone. I had to have it removed with surgery.

By turquoise — On Mar 19, 2013

@alisha-- I also have a herniated disc and I actually asked my doctor about this. As I'm sure you know, the spinal fluid which has oozed out of our herniated disc is applying pressure on the nerves in the area. This is where the pain is coming from. My doctor said that over time, the nerves adjust to this condition and even though they continue to be under pressure, they don't cause pain.

However, if you do a wrong movement and irritate the area, those nerves start sending pain signals once again.

What this means is that when you start experiencing sudden back pain, you have done something wrong. You either bent over like you shouldn't have or carried something heavy. You have to avoid whatever movement triggers this pain.

It also helps to do lower back exercises when you're feeling all right to strengthen those back muscles.

By discographer — On Mar 18, 2013

I have a herniated disc in my lower spine but most of the time I'm pain-free.

Just sometimes, all of the sudden, I start experiencing severe back pain. I don't understand how I can go from being absolutely fine to being in so much pain in such a short time. And once the pain kicks in, it doesn't stop unless I receive several shots of pain relievers which is not fun.

Does anyone else here have a herniated disc? Do you experience sudden pain like I do?

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