Back Pain Types

The three main back pain types include acute back pain, subacute back pain, and chronic back pain. The specific type of back pain you have will help to determine what treatment program, at all, you will take to make the symptoms go away, or to manage it as best as possible. In this article, we will learn about back pain types, and how to treat your problem it does not go away through rest or. In most cases, a patient's back pain will go away on its own, but in some cases, they will need to seek medical attention to get on a treatment program so that the back problem does not become chronic or continue to come and go.

Just as back pain can be divided into general categories based on cause, it can be divided into three categories based on how long it lasts. The treatments/medications to treat a person' s back pain may differ, depending on how long a person has been suffering. For example, NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often available over the counter and suitable for the treatment of general aches and pains, but not appropriate for long-term use to treat chronic ailments. Short-term use of certain NSAIDs carries relatively risk, at appropriate doses, but long term use may cause stomach upset, and possibly kidney or liver damage. If your back pain becomes a chronic condition, you will want to consult with your doctor if you are taking any medications continuously

. Here are three categories based on duration of pain.

  1. Acute - Acute pain may range in intensity from mild to severe, and it lasts between one to seven days. Acute pain may come on suddenly or gradually. The majority of cases is acute back pain and will resolve within seven days, either on their own, or by some other type of treatment (e.g. OTC medications, massage, chiropractic, Osteopath adjustment).
  2. Subacute - Subacute pain lasts between one week to three months. Some organizations and clinics may label subacute pain as lasting between 1 week to three months. 10-20% of cases can be classified as subacute.
  3. Chronic - Chronic pain is long term pain lasting for more than three months. Chronic pain may range from mild to severe. Fortunately, this is the least common type of pain, representing only 5-10% of cases. By the time patient have had back pain for this long, they will usually have sought out a doctor or other type of back specialist, either to manage this problem with pain management, back pain exercises, physical therapy, alternative therapies, or through the exploration of surgical options. Surgery is usually only considered after other therapies have been attempted, due to the dangers of ever minimally invasive surgeries and due to the relatively modest success rates of certain surgeries for certain people.


In the majority of cases, back pain resolves with time, regardless of treatment type or even any treatment at all. In the majority of cases, patients can get better with simple therapies such as a few days of bed rest (immobilization of more than a few days has shown to make the condition worse, statistics have shown!), or simple do it yourself treatments such as applying ice or heat to the area that is painful or uncomfortable.