Acute and chronic low back pain

Med Clin North Am. 2014 Jul;98(4):777-89, xii. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2014.03.005.


Low back pain is an extremely common presenting complaint that occurs in upward of 80% of persons. Treatment of an acute episode of back pain includes relative rest, activity modification, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy. Patient education is also imperative, as these patients are at risk for further future episodes of back pain. Chronic back pain (>6 months' duration) develops in a small percentage of patients. Clinicians' ability to diagnose the exact pathologic source of these symptoms is severely limited, making a cure unlikely. Treatment of these patients should be supportive, the goal being to improve pain and function.

Keywords: Acute low back pain; Chronic low back pain; Patient education; Treatment protocols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / surgery
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Patient Acuity
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physical Examination
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents