The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) defines chronic back pain as a long-term condition. General back pain is usually resolved within a few weeks or months but back pain that lasts for three months or longer is described as ‘chronic’.

Chronic back problems include pain which can be identified as a persistent ache anywhere on the back. Usually felt in the lower back area, chronic back pain can also cause stiffness, soreness and inflammation. The pain itself may range from mild to severe or from a dull ache to a sharp pain.4

People with chronic back pain can often find it hard to undertake normal daily activities and this can affect general outlook on life. Chronic pain can create a perception of harmfulness, which may lead to reduced physical activity and a sense of disability or helplessness.5

Chronic pain conditions are commonly associated with insomnia. Poor sleeping patterns and lack of sleep can exacerbate pain and impact quality of life.6

What causes chronic back problems?
It is not always possible to identify the cause of back pain. Although pain from a direct injury (such as a sprain or strain) or a medical condition (like a slipped disc or sciatica) may be easier to identify, chronic back problems can also result from lifestyle choices.

People who lead inactive lives and have poor posture are more at risk of experiencing back pain due to prolonged strain on the back and spine.