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How serious is acute low back pain (LBP)?

The seriousness of acute low back pain (LBP) is relative. The symptoms of acute pain are usually benign and limited. Even a ruptured disc has a chance of improving without surgery. Rarely, however, LBP is caused by a more serious process such as a fracture, infection or cancer. This is more common in individuals over age 50, those with a history of cancer, those with severe pain at rest, with associated fever, with underlying medical problems such as diabetes, heavy alcohol or drug use, long time corticosteroid use or osteoporosis.

Pain in the legs, weakness, or difficulty with bowel or bladder control warrant prompt medical evaluation. For all cases of pain lasting longer than six weeks, medical evaluation is advised.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.