Low Back Pain, a Comprehensive Review: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 11;23(3):23. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0757-1.


Purpose of review: Low back pain encompasses three distinct sources: axial lumbosacral, radicular, and referred pain. Annually, the prevalence of low back pain in the general US adult population is 10-30%, and the lifetime prevalence of US adults is as high as 65-80%.

Recent findings: Patient history, physical exam, and diagnostic testing are important components to accurate diagnosis and identification of patient pathophysiology. Etiologies of low back pain include myofascial pain, facet joint pain, sacroiliac joint pain, discogenic pain, spinal stenosis, and failed back surgery. In chronic back pain patients, a multidisciplinary, logical approach to treatment is most effective and can include multimodal medical, psychological, physical, and interventional approaches. Low back pain is a difficult condition to effectively treat and continues to affect millions of Americans every year. In the current investigation, we present a comprehensive review of low back pain and discuss associated pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

Keywords: Axial low back pain; Low back pain; Lumbosacral pain; Radiculopathy; Referred low back pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*