How Do I Know If My Back Pain Is Serious? 

Back discomfort is one of the leading causes of individuals seeking medical attention or missing work. Back pain is the main cause of disability globally. Fortunately, most back pain attacks may be avoided or treated, especially in people under 60. If prevention fails, basic home therapy and proper body mechanics may commonly repair the back in weeks. Back discomfort is seldom treated surgically. For more information, consult Jay M. Shah MD, today. 

Symptoms of back pain 

Aching muscles can lead to shooting, stabbing, or burning pain in the back. The discomfort may also spread down a leg. Bending, lifting, standing, twisting, or walking may make the problem worse. 

When you should consult a doctor 

Most back pain resolves gradually with at-home therapy and self-care, generally within a few weeks. Contact your doctor if you have back pain that:

  • Spreads down either or both legs, particularly if discomfort is felt below the knee.
  • It is intense and does not get better with rest.
  • It lasts for more than a few weeks.
  • It is accompanied by unexplained loss of weight.
  • This condition causes numbness, weakness, or tingling in either or both legs.

Back discomfort might occasionally indicate a significant medical concern. Seek emergency medical attention for back discomfort that:

  • Comes after a fall, a strike to the back, or another type of damage.
  • It is associated with a fever.
  • Results in new bladder or bowel issues.

Experiences that might point to a medical emergency

  • Sharp pain as opposed to a mild discomfort

This might be due to a strained muscle or ligament or to an issue with an internal organ in the back or side. 

  • Radiating pain 

This pain shoots or moves to the legs or glutes, indicating a nerve compression issue.

  • Leg weakness that appears suddenly

Compressed nerves in the spine, such as sciatica or spinal stenosis, can cause limb weakness. However, abrupt leg weakness might be a sign of a stroke.

  • Incontinence 

Back discomfort combined with the inability to control the bladder or bowels might indicate severe nerve compression or a spine infection, such as meningitis or discitis.

  • Groin or gluteal numbness or sensations of pins and needles

This is referred to as saddle anesthesia, and it is also indicative of a significant nerve or spine issue. 

If you experience leg weakness, numbness, and incontinence simultaneously, you may have cauda equina syndrome, a dangerous disorder caused by spinal cord nerve injury. This is a medical emergency, and most patients require rapid surgery to decompress the nerves to prevent irreparable harm. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider. 

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