Have a back pain or have back pain?

Usually people say ” I have a pain”. But I heard someone was saying ”I have back pain” .
I have a back pain. / I have back pain.
which one is correct?

Good question. As a native speaker, when I hear “I have back pain” I usually think the issue is chronic, or an ongoing medical issue that would need to be addressed by a doctor. The individual might also go to a chiropractor or a masseuse to address this ongoing issue. They may not feel the pain at the moment but periodically feel it throughout the week.

When I hear “I have a back pain” I think the person is currently in pain and it is likely not quite as serious. This pain would usually be related to the effects of bad posture while sitting or performing a strenuous activity that while painful, would likely be temporary.

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Hi! Thanks for the comment. Now I understand why there are two ways of expressions. Thanks byrdcaleb. :grin:

’ I have a pain’ is correct. ‘I have back pain’ is ok. but known as broken english. Many foreigners speak broken English. Sometimes I miss a few verbs to make it easier to be understood by them.

Would they not say I have back pains.

Not necessarily, there is no need to pluralise it if suffering from chronic back pain for example.
You could say: “I suffer from lower back pain”
Indeed, many people suffer from this condition.
If you have had lower back pain, you are not alone :wink:

Haha! Actually, I‘m suffering from lower back pain right now!

So, “I suffer from lower back pain“ ”I suffer from A lower back pain”
Either is okay?

If it’s something you’re experiencing right now, but don’t normally experience, you could say “I’ve got a pain in my lower back”, if it is a really sharp throbbing pain, you could say “I’ve got a really sharp pain in my lower back” if it’s a chronic pain, you’d simply say as I stated above “I suffer from lower back pain”

From reading the comments on this post, it sounds like “I have a back pain” is more commonly expressed by European English speakers. American English prefers “I have back pain.” I disagree that “I have back pain” sounds broken. It is the equivalent of saying, “I suffer from back pain.”

  • As an American English speaker, I agree with the argument that “I have a back pain” refers to a more temporary pain, versus “I have back pain” referring to chronic back pain.
  • But if I heard someone with a non-American accent saying “I have a back pain” I would listen deeper to understand if it is chronic or temporary.

So the point is, either way is acceptable, and it depends more on:

  • Chronic vs. temporary pain
  • European vs. American English

For anyone who does have chronic back pain, make sure you stretch your muscles every day to every other day! I have scoliosis (a curved spine) and in doing yoga as well as going to physical therapy over the years, I learned some very useful stretches that I can do anytime. Remember that all muscles are connected so stretching your legs with correct form is a sure way to reduce chronic back pain from living, hunching our shoulders, bending our necks, etc. So important - so useful!

Spending my whole life in the United States, I have never heard “I suffer from A lower back pain” Because by definition it is chronic back pain because you are walking around. But this is a small difference.

Kenosaka, you seem determined to get the indefinite article “a” in.

In order to do that, I’d suggest changing the word order.

You could say “I’ve got a pain in my back” or offer more information by saying “I’ve got a pain in my lower back”, if it is a really sharp throbbing pain, you could say “I’ve got a really sharp pain in my lower back”.

If you said for example: “I’ve got a pain in my lower back”

  • It could be due to having exercised at the gym this morning
  • It could be due to having moved a heavy piece of furniture last week

On the other hand, if you experience back pain on a regular basis you’d say:

  • I suffer from lower back pain
  • I have low back pain

The location of the pain does not need to be identified, it simply adds extra information.

  • Do you have upper back pain or neck pain?
  • I have middle back pain.

Or quite simply:

  • I have back pain
  • I suffer from back pain

Another way of using “a pain” - in a situation where you find someone bothersome or annoying, or in a situation that irritates you

  • He’s a real pain in the ass!
  • She’s a pain in the backside (politer)
  • She’s a pain in the neck!
  • Such a pain in the neck!
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