Lower back pain may disappear within a few days or weeks, but in some cases it may last longer. Depending on the cause, back pain may go away on its own or require treatment.

Lower back pain may be short-lived and resolve with self-care, but people may want to see a doctor for long-lasting lower back pain that does not improve. This article looks at how long low back pain lasts, what causes low back pain, and when to see a doctor. It also explains the treatment of low back pain.

How long does low back pain usually last?

The duration of low back pain depends on the underlying cause. Most cases of back pain resolve within a few weeks.
The different types of back pain and their typical duration fall into the following categories:

Acute: Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually only lasts a few days or weeks.
Subacute: Subacute back pain can come on suddenly or gradually and can last between 4 and 12 weeks.
Chronic: Chronic back pain happens every day, can come on quickly or slowly, and lasts longer than 12 weeks.

In about 90% of cases, lower back pain is temporary and people can treat it with self-care, medication, and therapy. About 50% of people with episodic lower back pain will experience recurring pain within a year.

Average healing time for lower back pain

Healing time can vary depending on the cause of the low back pain, but in many cases people can find relief from their back pain within 6 weeks.
Acute back pain can resolve on its own within a few days with self-care. Chronic back pain can last longer than 12 weeks and recovery can go beyond treating the underlying cause.

How long should you wait before seeing a doctor?

Consideration may be given to seeing a doctor if lower back pain worsens or does not improve after 2-3 weeks of self-care. People should contact a doctor as soon as possible if their lower back pain is severe, occurs after a fall or injury, or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

radiating pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling
problems urinating or having a bowel movement
fever or chills
unexplained weight loss

Low back pain treatment

Treatment for low back pain usually depends on the cause but may include:

Physical therapy: Regular exercise, especially exercises that strengthen the lower back, and physical therapy to improve posture and mobility can help.
Self-care: Applying heat or ice to the lower back can help relieve pain and muscle tension.
Lifestyle changes: These include eating a nutritious diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and quitting smoking.
Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can help relieve symptoms.

If all other treatments are ineffective, surgery may be an option for some back conditions.

Causes of low back pain

Possible causes of acute low back pain include:

sprains and strains
traumatic injuries
broken bones
herniated disc
spinal stenosis

Causes of persistent or chronic lower back pain

Persistent or chronic low back pain may be due to:

a disc tear
disc degeneration
herniated disc
degenerative spondylolisthesis
spinal stenosis
compression fracture

Risk factors

The risk factors for low back pain are:

Age: low back pain can be more common with age and can appear between the ages of 30 and 50.
Lack of exercise: Back pain may be more common with lack of physical activity, as the muscles may not be able to properly support the spine.
Weight: Obesity and being overweight can put increased pressure on the back, increasing the risk of back pain.
Occupation: A job that involves heavy lifting or sitting at a desk all day, especially with poor posture or support, can increase the risk of back pain.
Mental health: Stress can cause muscle tension leading to back pain, and mental health issues can affect pain perception.
Smoking: Smoking constricts blood vessels, which can affect blood flow to spinal discs, leading to increased degeneration.
Backpack Overload: Carrying a heavy backpack, especially with children, can lead to muscle strain or fatigue.
Genetics: Genetics can increase the risk of certain conditions that cause back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are frequently asked about lower back pain.

How can a person know if their low back pain is serious?

Signs of severe lower back pain include:

radiating pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs
changes in bladder or bowel function
back pain occurring after a fall or injury
pain that gets worse when lying on your back
fever or chills
unexplained weight loss

It may be worth seeing a doctor if back pain is accompanied by any of the above symptoms.

Is walking a good way to treat lower back pain?

Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help relieve lower back pain. Regular walking for about 30 to 60 minutes every day or every other day can help relieve pain, as well as improve mobility and general fitness. Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy back, strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and support the spine. Maintaining a healthy weight can also help reduce excessive strain on your back.

Can bed rest help lower back pain?

It is best to avoid bed rest. Instead, try to limit activities that cause pain, and then gradually increase physical activity. Avoiding strenuous activity for a few days can help. Unless advised otherwise by a doctor, research suggests that moving and staying as active as possible is beneficial for lower back pain.
When possible, continuing with daily activities as usual can help people with pain cope.

Can prolonged bed rest make lower back pain worse?

Research on the treatment of low back pain suggests that prolonged bed rest can make low back pain worse and recommends avoiding bed rest for low back pain.
Lack of movement can make long-term pain worse and weaken the core muscles that help support the back. Unless a doctor has identified a serious cause of low back pain, nonspecific low back pain will usually benefit from regular movement.


Lower back pain can last a few days or more than 12 weeks, depending on the cause. People who have had lower back pain for more than a few weeks or have concerning symptoms should see a doctor. Treatment may include physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and medications.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.