Patient Education

Some specific causes of acute, sharp back pain

A muscle spasm is a prolonged contraction or stiffening of the back muscles, which can be triggered by trauma or repetitive strain. The back muscles spasm to protect the spine from further injury. A spasm can produce sharp back pain in either the upper or lower back. bulging disk, slipped disk, ruptured disk, or pinched nerve — can also cause sudden, sharp back pain. It can result from the improper lifting of heavy objects or overly strenuous activity. Sharp back pain that shoots down through the buttocks into the legs, called sciatica.

Fracture of the spine bones (vertebrae) can be caused by trauma (a fall or car accident) or by weakened bones (osteoporosis), and the pain is often very sharp. With infection, back pain is usually accompanied by fever and other symptoms. Rupture of the main artery in the abdomen (called a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm) can be a very serious cause of sharp back pain. Also, kidney infection (pyelonephritis) and an infection of the lining of the lungs and chest (pleurisy) can mimic back pain. In these cases, treatment of the underlying cause will usually resolve the back pain.

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