- Lower back pain center
What is lower back pain with a nerve pain component?
Lower back pain is an extremely common health condition involving ligaments, small joints, muscles, tendons and/or nerves of the back.1 It can involve a mixture of nociceptive pain (pain arising from tissue damage or injury), and neuropathic pain (nerve pain), known as mixed pain.1,2 This condition may be caused by compression to nerves and/or inflammation in the spine.3
A number of conditions can cause lower back pain with a nerve pain component including:3
Narrowing of the back bone
Complicated/failed spinal/back surgery
Spinal cord injury
How common is lower back pain with a nerve pain component?
Lower back pain is one of the more commonly experienced types of pain.4 Lower back pain that won’t go away may have a neuropathic, or nerve pain component.
It is important to describe your symptoms to your doctor, as this is the first step towards getting the right help.
Up to 4 in 5 people experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.4
Between 20–35% of people with low back pain experience nerve pain.3
Up to an estimated 2 in 5 elderly patients (aged ≥65 years) with chronic lower back pain have nerve pain.5
What does lower back pain with a nerve pain component feel like?
Lower back pain is a complex condition that can involve a mixture of pain resulting from tissue damage or injury (nociceptive pain) and nerve pain.1
The nerve pain component in lower back pain is often described as tingling, pins and needles, burning, freezing, stabbing, shooting, or electric shocks.6 This pain can be constant, or may come and go, may radiate to the arm or leg, and often gets worse at night.7
Burning/ on fire
Tingling/ pins & needles
Pain radiating to the arm or leg
Don't ignore your pain
Lower back pain can negatively impact your quality of life.3 In addition to pain, a delay in treatment or misdiagnosis of the nerve pain component may lead to the development of other conditions including:8
There are specific treatments available for the nerve pain component of lower back pain. If you think you have lower back pain with a nerve pain component, make an appointment to see your doctor.
If you have pain that won’t go away, it’s important to get help.
How does nerve pain differ from other pain?
Nerve pain experienced in the lower back differs from other types of pain because it directly affects the nervous system.2
Usually, pain is the way our nervous system tells us that there is damage to a part of our body. This is called “nociceptive” pain. Unlike nociceptive pain, nerve pain arises as a result of disease or damage to the nerve itself. Nerve pain is also referred to as “neuropathic” pain. Both nociceptive and neuropathic pain can be present at the same time, which is known as mixed pain.2
People with nerve pain may experience symptoms of stabbing, shooting or electric shocks.6 These are signs of nerve damage and are unlikely to occur with other types of pain.2
Know someone with lower back pain with nerve pain?
Perhaps you know someone with symptoms that sound like low back pain with a nerve pain component? If so, there are practical steps you can take to help someone experiencing ongoing pain.
- Freynhagen R, et al. PainDETECT: A New Screening Questionnaire to Identify Neuropathic Components in Patients with Back Pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006;22:1911-1920.
- Haanpaa ML, et al. Assessment of Neuropathic Pain in Primary Care. Am J Med. 2009;122(10Suppl):S13-21.
- Freynhagen R, et al. The Evaluation of Neuropathic Components in Low Back Pain. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2009;13(3):185-190.
- Walker BF. The Prevalence of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review of the Literature from 1966 to 1998. J Spinal Disord. 2000;13(3):205-217.
- Sakai Y, et al. Neuropathic Pain in Elderly Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain and Effects of Pregabalin: A Preliminary Study. Asian Spine J. 2015;9(2):254-62.
- Freynhagen R, et al. Diagnosis and Management of Neuropathic Pain. BMJ. 2009;339:b3002.
- Meyer HP. Neuropathic Pain - Current Concepts. SA Fam Pract. 2008;50(3):40-49.
- Harden N, et al. Unmet Needs in the Management of Neuropathic Pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003;25(5 Suppl):S12-17.