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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Sharp Lower Back Pain: Causes and Treatments

A man suffering from low back pain.

At some point in people’s lives, about 80% will experience back pain. Sharp lower back pain can be debilitating or a throbbing feeling, constant or dull. This pain may be acute or chronic. Potential causes of this pain may include advancing age, underlying health conditions, accident or trauma to the back, and many more. Depending on the condition or cause, the treatment could be self-care or non-invasive methods like stretches or painkillers. Worse conditions could require surgery.

Additionally, genetics can play a role. Individuals with a family history of back pain may be more likely to experience it. Furthermore, if you are generally unhealthy, the chances of low back pain are greater. This is the reason why having an active and healthy lifestyle is very important to have a strong and healthy body. In this article, we will present more about the causes of sharp low back pain, its treatments, and using TENS therapy for this condition.

Causes of Sharp Lower Back Pain

The lower back includes five vertebrae to support the upper body. Aside from the vertebrae, there are other structures in the back like muscles, tendons, spinal cord, ligaments, etc. They are all connected to each other and play important roles in supporting each other and being able to do movements. That is why there are more reasons that can cause or contribute to pain. Sharp lower back pain can be caused by strains, sudden injury, underlying conditions, and many more.

One of the most common causes of back pain is injury. This can happen when someone lifts something heavy improperly or twists their back in an unnatural way. If muscles move the wrong way or the back takes on too much strain, it is very easy for it to get hurt.

Another common cause is being generally unfit. A person who never exercises is more prone to injury, as their back is likely weaker. It is not used to consistent movement or bearing weight, so over time it will start to hurt. Additionally, being overweight places additional strain on the back.


Depending on the underlying cause or condition of the pain, symptoms can be experienced in a variety of ways:

  • There is a discomfort or pain in the lower back that may be sharp, dull, burning, aching or stabbing.
  • Posture problems or trouble upon walking, standing, sexual intercourse or bowel movements.
  • The pain is accompanied by muscle spasms, pain in the hips and pelvis, and decreased range of motion.
  • There is stiffness or difficulty in straightening or moving the back.
  • Pain gets worse after sitting for a longer period of time.
  • The pain travels into your buttocks down to the thigh or hip area

A woman stretching in the gym

Treatments for Sharp Lower Back Pain

As mentioned, the treatments vary on the cause or condition of the pain. The first line of therapy is usually oral medication for relieving pain. If it is a fracture, you can start with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or steroid injections if badly needed. NSAIDs and physical therapy may be helpful for mild infection or a bulging disc.

If the pain is due to muscle spasms in which your back muscles contract involuntarily, exercise and physical therapy may help. Medications and regular exercise are advisable if you have spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is when a narrowing of the spine puts pressure on your nerves and spinal cord which can cause numbness or sharp lower back pain.

Arthritis and the other types such as osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis can also cause low back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis is also a type of arthritis in which the body misfires against the hip and sacroiliac joints that connect to the lower spine and pelvis. This also causes pain and severe stiffness. Low back pain from arthritis can be treated by NSAIDs, other painkillers, or drugs that modulate your immune system.

Exercises to Help with Back Pain

The easiest treatment method for back pain is exercise. Aerobic exercise is good for an all-around healthy body. Avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete, and instead, use something soft like grass or turf. This will reduce the shock going into your legs, lessening back and knee pain. Other great options include walking, swimming, and biking.

Stretching is also a great way to get your back into shape. Stretches condition muscles to have a better range of motion so will help your back get used to moving without pain. Stretching is usually stationary, making it easy to do at any point throughout the day.

A woman using a TENS unit on her lower back.

TENS Therapy for Sharp Lower Back Pain

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy is a non-invasive pain management method. It sends electric pulses to targeted nerves via electrode pads attached to the body. These pulses trigger the body to release endorphins and block pain signals from going to the brain. This reduces the pain the user feels in the targeted area. TENS is a great way to treat sharp lower back pain.

TENS has no major side effects, making it an ideal alternative to other treatment methods like painkillers. Because it has little effect on the body, you can use it essentially as much as you want. If one therapy session is not enough to relieve your pain, you can repeat sessions throughout the day.

Wireless TENS devices, like those offered by iTENS Australia, are highly mobile. The user controls their therapy session via a smartphone app, which connects to the electrode pads via Bluetooth. This means that you can take your TENS device with you to use whenever you need it, even while doing other activities.

TENS Guidelines

There are some basic guidelines to follow when using TENS. First, ensure you place the pads properly for use. They should be as close to the point of pain as possible without touching each other. Avoid placing pads in sensitive spots like on wounds of the spine.

Applying TENS too much in the same area can cause mild skin irritation. If you want to repeat therapy sessions, wait at least 20 minutes before starting again. This will give your skin a break. If you notice the skin starts to hurt or redden, take a longer break or try placing the pads in a different area.


The bottom line is, it is necessary to know what causes the pain first as treatment varies on the cause or condition. Potential causes of sharp lower back pain may include injury, muscle sprain or strain, age, underlying conditions and many more. The pain can be mild or severe. Available treatments are NSAIDs, other oral medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. These methods can help treat pain and may prevent from coming it back.

TENS therapy has been proven to be safe and effective for pain relief in the back. It is a non-invasive method that uses a device to deliver electrical pulses to the back through electrodes. Many doctors would suggest this therapy due to its minimal side effects. TENS units like the iTENS from iTENS Australia help to relieve symptoms of acute and chronic conditions that affect the lower back. For best guidance, please consult a doctor.

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