Acute lower back pain is a pain that has been present for around three months or less. It is most frequently of mechanical origin, often resulting from an identifiable trauma to the back from events such as a sports injury, repetitive overloading or a car accident. Symptoms range from acute pain to a deep ache combined with stiffness and there may be referred symptoms to the legs or further up the spine.

Chronic lower back pain is pain that has been there for longer than three months. If this is the case it is important to make a prompt and accurate diagnosis in order to correctly treat the problem and prevent a further deterioration of the situation.