Lower back pain affects more than 540 million people worldwide. It’s one of the most costly conditions in the United States, and if you suffer from any type of back pain, you know just how debilitating it can be.
Yet, back pain does not always warrant a visit to your physician’s office. You may be able to manage your back pain at home, but how can you know when you should see a doctor?
We can answer those questions for you. Keep reading below for all you need to know.
Common Causes of Back Pain
There are many different causes of back pain, varying from diseases to injuries. Knowing what caused your back pain can better help you decide if you should visit your doctor’s office.
Here are some of the common causes of back pain:
- Herniated Disc
- Strain or Sprain
- Facet Joints
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Muscle Spasm
Other, less known causes include:
- Spinal fracture
- Spinal tumor
Signs You Should See a Doctor
If your pain hasn’t improved in a few weeks with self-care or if your pain has increased, those are huge signs you need to see a doctor.
If you experience the following signs and symptoms, it’s a good idea to begin searching on Google for a “doctor near me.”
Pain at Night
If you’re experiencing pain at night, this can cause a whole host of other symptoms. Many people won’t encounter any pain at all until they lie down at night.
This can disrupt your sleep schedule, making you feel even worse, especially if it doesn’t get better by switching sleeping positions.
If you experience this, you should seek medical treatment. While nighttime back pain could be something simple such as a sprain, it could also lead to other severe conditions, such as a spinal tumor, nerve compression, fracture, or infection.
Weakness, Tingling, or Numbness
Often, if you’re feeling numbness or tingling in your back, this points to nerve damage. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can usually fix without a visit to the doctor.
It’s especially important as, if nerve damage goes untreated, it can lead to permanent damage.
While this may be a lesser-known symptom, experiencing a fever with back pain can point to a serious infection, such as meningitis, vertebral osteomyelitis, and spinal epidural abscess.
If this occurs, seek immediate emergency care.
While you may have heard some people state they just have a “bad back,” chronic back pain is not normal. If you have back pain for more than a week, in which over-the-counter medications are not helping to manage, you should set up an appointment with your doctor.
Even if it’s something simple, you don’t have to live with being constantly uncomfortable. There are simple treatments that can help to improve your quality of life, so don’t wait!
This is another symptom that is lesser-known but can be a sign of something serious.
Weight loss and back pain, when together, are symptoms of endocarditis. This is a disease that involves inflammation of the inner lining of the heart, which can be a life-threatening condition. Getting emergency care is essential.
Back pain coupled with weight loss may also point to a spinal tumor, which, while rare, still warrants a check-in with your doctor.
If you are experiencing lower back pain and bladder or bowel control problems, this could signify caudaequina syndrome. This very rare disease occurs when the nerve roots at the end of your spinal cord become compressed, disabling your motor and sensory functioning.
Bladder control problems and back pain could also be a sign of a spinal tumor, infection, or very serious injury.
Because most symptoms could be applied to multiple different disorders or diseases, it’s essential that you seek professional medical help if you have any concerns.
Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatments
When you visit your doctor forback pain management, they will likely suggest nonsurgical treatments first, unless your pain is exceptionally severe.
You may be asked to try over-the-counter medications, topical creams, or muscle relaxants. If these do not help, your doctor will most likely move on to more nonsurgical treatments, such as a facet joint injection.
This involves steroids to help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. There are many different nonsurgical treatments, but if they are not successful, you can look into a surgical procedure.
Your doctor may recommend surgery for certain spinal conditions or injuries. You may also need surgery to help treat bone spurs, a spinal infection, fracture, tumor, or to treat a degenerative spinal disorder.
It’s important to note that, while back surgery may seem a bit nerve-racking, many minimally invasive procedures are very low risk. The relief that surgical procedures can bring is worth the process, as long as you find a doctor that you trust.
Pay Attention to Your Back Pain
With any pain your body experiences, it’s important to pay attention to it. You should be extra attentive when it comes to your back pain.
While it’s most likely something simple, keep watch of your symptoms, so you know when to see a doctor. Catching a problem early always makes it easier to fix, so be smart about your health and use this guide to track your symptoms.
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