Burning in Your Lower Back

When your lower back burns, you likely wonder what is causing the pain. You may experience burning in your lower back that is localized to the skin or radiates down your back to your legs. The pain can stay in the buttocks or, rarely, migrate to your upper back.

You may experience this burning for several different reasons. It may simply have an actual burn somewhere on your back, such as sunburn. You could also have nerve related issues in your back that can occur spontaneously or arise from injury. Nerve problems can be related to your spine or issues with the actual nerves themselves.

Deciphering the cause of this burning sensation can be challenging. You will likely need a CT scan or MRI if the problem concerns your spine. Most often, rest, exercise, and medications can help you restore your back to a pain-free state. The prognosis for this condition is generally good as it is a common affliction with extensive medical research associated with it.


The most obvious cause of burning in the lower back is an actual burn on your skin. This could be from a sunburn, a substance such as IcyHot, or burning from a heat source, such as a heating pad. You can determine if this is the cause of your pain if it is localized to your skin. Usually these burns result in pain only on the actual skin, though it can still be very painful. Treating these may require a trip to the hospital to ease the burn.

A common cause of burning pain in the lower back is a simple muscle strain. You can strain your muscles by over exercising or lifting incorrectly. However, some people can strain their muscles by doing nothing at all. This is the most likely problem in those who are overweight and carry excess weight around their abdomen. The lack of strong stomach muscles can put pressure on the lower back, and this can manifest as a burning sensation.

Another cause of lower back burning is a spinal issue. You can have problems with your spine from an injury, but sometimes there are no causative factors underlying a burning sensation caused by your spine. This burning can be caused when the discs, or jelly filled cushions, between the vertebrae rupture. This can put pressure on a nerve and cause the burning sensation, in addition to pain that travels down your leg.

You can also injure your back from trauma. For instance, you can fall or get into a car accident and crush your vertebrae or rupture discs. This can affect the adjacent nerves. Once the nerves are injured or pinched, they send constant signals to the brain telling it that there is an injury. This signal can manifest as a burning sensation.

Sometimes, you can experience lower back problems that have no known cause. You can injure your back by lifting improperly, but the disc does not impinge on the nerve until much later. This can make burning back pain difficult to treat, because it is not often known what caused your problem. However, the treatment is usually the same; it will include rest and then exercise and medications.

Some uncommon causes of burning in the lower back include spinal tumors, vitamin deficiencies, diabetic or alcoholic neuropathy, shingles, lupus, and a damaged spinal cord.

Out of all of the many possible causes of burning in the lower back, the most common is a muscle strain. When you experience this type of pain, you likely have some muscular problem in your back, and it will likely be resolved on its own. The second most common cause is a disc problem that is impinging on a nerve. If you've had an injury, that makes this cause even more likely, but it can still occur without a known cause. Finally, a skin burn is the least likely cause, but your usage of chemicals or heating sources can increase its likelihood.


Treatment for burning in the lower back depends on the underlying cause. If it is from a muscle strain or sprain, it is best to rest your back and apply ice to decrease the inflammation. With some strains, you may need to take over the counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, to help calm the burning pain.

If your problem is caused by a ruptured disc in your back, then you will likely need to rest it at first. Physical therapy will inevitably become very important for rehabilitating your back. You will need to learn exercises to strengthen your back and help you move more effectively. In extreme cases, you may need surgery to remove the disc that is pressing on the nerves and causing your pain. However, doctors are reluctant to perform this surgery because it doesn't always help the burning.

If you have a burn on your skin, then you will likely need a topical medication to ease your pain. Aloe Vera can be very soothing to burned skin and can help decrease your pain. If you have blisters, though, your burn is serious, so you should see a doctor for prescription topical medication and additional therapeutic support.

When you experience burning pain in your back without a known cause, you may need to focus on exercises to improve the support that your body gives your back. Seeing a physical therapist or a chiropractor can help you learn ways to strengthen your muscles and relieve the burning sensations that you have in your lower back.

For uncommon causes of this pain, such as spinal cancer or lupus, you need to have the causative agent removed. For instance, with shingles, an anti-viral medication is often necessary. For spinal tumors, the mass should be removed. Treatment will depend on any associated symptoms and your doctor's examination.

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