Back injuries are very common. Any injury to the bones, discs, tendons, muscles and ligaments that make up your back can cause pain and discomfort.
Back injuries often occur as a result of sudden movements, bumps, knocks or falls.
Injuries to your back vary in seriousness depending on the cause of the injury and the amount of force involved.
Minor injuries may cause strains to your back muscles, bruising and small cuts and grazes. A strain is sometimes called a ‘pulled muscle’— this happens if a muscle is overstretched or it tightens too strongly, resulting in the tissues being torn or stretched.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists recommends that an X-ray in response to low back pain is only needed if you have other significant symptoms such as problems with bladder and bowel control, severe pain or weakness or numbness in one or both legs. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
More severe injuries could cause fractures, wounds, extensive bruising and damage to your spinal cord and internal organs.
If you suspect a severe back injury, you should seek medical assistance immediately, and phone your doctor or call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000).
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your back injury, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Last reviewed: July 2015