Back pain is any type of pain or discomfort on the back side of your body between your lower neck and your tailbone. Sudden, sharp or stabbing back pain is known as acute back pain, whereas chronic back pain builds gradually and can last for months.
At Dignity Health in the Bay Area, we are experienced in treating all types of back pain, offering patients healing with humankindness at our locations in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Redwood City, and across San Mateo County.
Symptoms of Back Pain
You may also notice these symptoms with back pain:
- Anxiety or depression
- Difficulty sleeping or fatigue
- Pain in the neck, shoulder or hip
- Pain that runs through the buttocks and down one leg
- Stiffness and trouble moving
- Swelling, redness or warmth in the back
Come to your nearest Dignity Health location if you have persistent or severe back pain, or if back pain is affecting your daily activities. You should also seek urgent (same-day) care for low back pain combined with loss of bladder or bowel control and worsening numbness or weakness in your legs or arms.
In rare cases, back pain can be a sign of a heart attack. Call 9-1-1 for back pain with chest, jaw or abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing.
Common Causes of Back Pain
Some causes of back pain are problems within the back itself, including the spine, nerves, muscles and ligaments, including:
- Arthritis, including osteoarthritis of the spine and ankylosing spondylitis.
- Disc problems, including compression or bulging. Discs act like cushions between the spinal bones (vertebrae).
- Muscle strain and spasms from injury, overuse, or sudden, awkward or forceful movements.
- Osteoporosis and other conditions that affect the bones of the spine.
- Spinal alignment problems, such as scoliosis.
Other causes of back pain that start elsewhere in the body and may spread to the back include gynecological conditions (including ectopic pregnancy, uterine prolapse and premenstrual syndrome), cardiovascular conditions (including aortic aneurysm or heart attack) and kidney conditions (including stones or infection).
Back Pain Care Across the Bay Area
Your doctor at Dignity Health may be able to diagnose the cause of your back pain by learning about your symptoms, medical history, recent physical activity and by doing a physical exam. An imaging test, such as an X-ray, bone scan or MRI, can also help them confirm or rule out a diagnosis.
For back pain treatment, they may recommend basic at-home care, over-the-counter pain medication and exercises to strengthen the back. If these and other nonsurgical treatments are ineffective, back surgery may be an option.
Return to the activities you love by finding effective treatment for your back pain. Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate an orthopedic specialist near you.
Dignity Health provides extensive treatment for patients with back pain in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Redwood City.