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Side Effect: Back Pain

What is Back Pain?

Back pain is a common symptom experienced by many people and can have various causes, including muscle strain, nerve problems, or spine conditions. Back pain can be experienced by patients with cancer and the pain may range from a mild ache to severe, debilitating pain that affects daily activities.

What does Back Pain look like?

Back pain can range from mild to severe, and it may be constant or intermittent. It can also be localized or spread across a larger area. The exact presentation of back pain may vary depending on the underlying cause, but common features include:

If you have back pain, try to be as specific as possible when describing the location, intensity, and triggers of the pain to the doctor as this will help them determine what treatment options might be available.

Back Pain

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Who gets Back Pain?

How to prevent Back Pain

Prevention of back pain in patient with cancer begins with:

In addition, prevention of back pain involves addressing risk factors such as bone metastases or spinal cord compression before they develop. This may involve early detection and treatment of cancer, including regular monitoring with imaging studies, and the use of bone strengthening medications in certain individuals.

How to treat Back Pain

The treatment of back pain in patients with cancer depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the pain. Pain management strategies may include medications such as opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or medications to treat nerve pain, as well as non-pharmacologic approaches such as physical therapy, acupuncture, or nerve blocks.

In some cases, anti-inflammatory steroids (such as dexamethasone) plus radiation therapy or surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying cancer or to address complications such as spinal cord compression.


1) Will JS, Bury DC, and Miller JA. Mechanical Low Back Pain. Am Fam Physician 2018;98(7):421-428.

Created: February 16, 2024 Updated: March 7, 2024