When to See a Doctor About Back Pain

March 1, 2018
When to See a Doctor about Back Pain

Most people experience back pain at some point in their lives. Usually, things improve within a few days or a couple of weeks. Sometimes, however, back pain can point toward more serious issues that demand medical intervention. If you suffer from chronic or unexplained back problems, here's what you should now.
Symptoms
Whether it’s causes by injury or a degenerative condition, back pain typically causes one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Aching muscles
  • Stabbing or shooting pains
  • Pain radiating down one or more legs
  • Limited range of motion or flexibility

Causes
Back pain often develops after a specific incident, such as twisting or lifting. Sometimes, however, degenerative issues are to blame. Common causes of back pain include ligament or muscle strains, ruptured or bulging disks, arthritis, osteoporosis and skeletal irregularities. In some cases, back pain can point to serious underlying health issues.
When to See a Doctor
Most of the time, back pain improves with self-care; however, you should visit your doctor if your pain persists longer than two weeks. You should also seek an evaluation if you experience any of the following symptoms, which could signal a medical problem:

  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Back pain accompanied by fever
  • Pain resulting from a fall or blow to the back
  • Severe pain that does not improve with rest
  • Pain that extends down one or both legs
  • Back pain in conjunction with unexplained weight loss

You should also visit your doctor if you begin experiencing back pain for the very first time after the age of 50, or if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, osteoporosis, cancer or steroid use.
Prevention
You can reduce your risk of back pain by keeping your weight down and maintaining a regular exercise routine. You should also focus on using good posture while sitting and standing. Stretching and other flexibility exercise can help reduce the risk of back pain. You should also avoid twisting and bend only at the knees when lifting heavy objects.

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