Low back pain can affect the back anywhere below the ribs and above the legs. The lower back is the connection between the upper and lower body, and it bears most of the body’s weight. Because of these roles, it is easily injured when you lift, reach, or twist.Almost everyone has low back pain at one time or another. The good news is that most low back pain will go away in a few weeks with some basic self-care. But if your pain is severe or lasts more than a couple of weeks, see your doctor.Low back pain is often caused by overuse, strain, or injury. For instance, people often hurt their backs playing sports or working in the garden, or lifting something too heavy.Aging plays a part too. Your bones and muscles tend to lose strength as you age, which increases your risk of injury. The spongy discs between the bones of the spine (vertebrae) may suffer from wear and tear and no longer provide enough cushion between the bones. A disc that bulges or breaks open (herniated disc) can press on nerves, causing back pain.In some people, low back pain is the result of arthritis, broken vertebrae (compression fractures) caused by bone loss (osteoporosis), illness, or a spine problem you were born with.Often doctors don't really know what causes low back pain. But it is more likely to become long-lasting (chronic) if you are under stress or depressed.To help keep your back healthy and avoid further pain:•Be dull, burning, or sharp.•Be felt at a single point or over a broad area. •Come on gradually or suddenly. •Occur with muscle spasms or stiffness. •Cause leg symptoms, such as pain, numbness, or tingling, often extending below the knee. These symptoms can occur on their own or along with low back pain. Leg symptoms are often caused by lower spine problems that place pressure on a nerve that leads to the leg. Having ongoing back pain can make you depressed. In turn, depression can have an effect on your level of pain and whether your back gets better.Only a few people with low back pain need surgery. Surgery may help if you have a herniated disc or back pain along with symptoms of nerve damage, such as numbness in your legs. Even in these cases, most people will improve without surgery. Having surgery does not guarantee that all your pain will go away. Before you have surgery, it is a good idea to get a second opinion.After the first time you have had low back pain, you are likely to have it again. To help keep your back healthy and avoid further pain:•Practice good posture when you sit, stand, and walk.•Get regular, low-impact exercise. Walk, swim, or ride a stationary bike. Stretch before you exercise. •Wear low-heeled shoes with good support.•Sleep on your side. A medium-firm mattress may put the least stress on your back. •Watch your weight. Being too heavy, especially around your waist, puts extra stress on your back. •Don't try to lift things that are too heavy for you. When you must lift, bend your knees and keep your back straight, keep the object you are lifting close to your belly button, and avoid lifting and twisting at the same time.If you sit or stand for long periods at work:•Pay attention to your posture. Sit or stand up straight, with your shoulders back. •Make sure your chair has good back support. •Take regular breaks to walk around. If your work involves a lot of bending, reaching, or lifting:•Talk to your human resources department to see if there are other ways you can do your work. •Don't depend on a "back belt" to protect your back. Studies have not shown these belts to be effective in reducing back injuries. The most they can do is to help remind you to use good techniques for lifting.