When Should I Be Worried About Lower Back Pain? In many cases, back pain can be as common as a mild headache, sneezing here and there, or tired eyes. Nonspecific low back pain is a common disease. One study reports that the lifetime prevalence of chronic low back pain is as high as 84%, making the likelihood that someone will experience discomfort at one time or another is very high.
When Should I Be Worried About Lower Back Pain?
Then there are those other times when back pain just doesn’t feel right and your gut tells you that something else is going on. Many people are known to go to the emergency room when they experience low back pain — in 2012, a study found that low back pain made up 3.15% of all emergency visits in the United States. When you consider how many conditions can bring someone to the ER, that number is pretty significant.
Let’s say you experience a significant amount of back pain and wonder, “How do I know if my back pain is severe?” This guide will help you decide whether you need a visit to your doctor or the emergency room.
Signs of something serious
So could back or neck pain be a sign of something serious? An expert helps us navigate the waters.
“While back pain is very common and generally benign and self-limiting, there are some signs and symptoms that may indicate a more serious medical condition that requires additional evaluation and treatment,” says Mark Drymalski, MD, medical director, University of Missouri Health. Center comprehensive spine of care.
According to Dr. Drymalski can be these red flags:
- Persistent fever
- Unplanned weight loss
- Blood in stool or urine
- Progressive numbness or weakness in the legs
- Inability to urinate or evacuate
- Loss of bowel/bladder control
- Pain at night
- Sexual dysfunction
- Balance problems
- Pain is not relieved or aggravated by different postures
- Recent use of iv drugs
- Progressive worsening of pain despite relative rest
- Recent Trauma
Some symptoms may come on suddenly, while others may increase gradually. Several conditions can cause these so-called red flags.
Possible Conditions That Cause Severe Back Pain
Dr. Drymalski also describes several conditions that can cause severe back pain, many of which focus on bones or discs. But you may also be wondering, “How do I know if my back pain is kidney-related? Problems with what other organs can cause low back pain?”
He shares a broad list of possible conditions that can cause extreme back pain:
- Equine tail syndrome
- Disk or bone infections
- Kidney infections or kidney stones
- Spinal instability
- Spinal stenosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Transverse myelitis
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Thoracic or abdominal aortic aneurysms
Detect Signals – When Should I Be Worried About Lower Back Pain
While this list of possible conditions may seem daunting, the most important thing to focus on is your symptoms and how you’re feeling. Also, be aware of any symptoms you experience in addition to back pain.
Severe Back Pain
Pay attention to severe back pain and other symptoms associated with it.
“Look for symptoms other than back pain, especially bowel/bladder and leg function,” says Dr. Drymalski.
He adds that if you have any of the above red flag symptoms if your pain persists and appears unrelated to exercise, or if you have a history of cancer, recent intravenous drug use, or vascular disease, you may be at risk for serious back pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate these signs and symptoms alone. This is where a doctor’s experience comes in.
Dr. Drymalski explains, “If warning symptoms are present, urgent or emergent imaging, blood work, and evaluation may be needed, which can be accessed through a local emergency department.”
When it comes to seeking a diagnosis from a doctor, it is best to go as soon as you think something is wrong, as early and thorough treatment can help you avoid more serious symptoms and conditions.
Early identification and treatment of many of the serious diseases of the spine, such as meningitis, discitis, and the cauda equina syndrome of a herniated disc or mass, is essential to prevent death or prolonged hospitalization or permanent neurological damage, such as permanent leg weakness in some cases. or bowel/bladder dysfunction in others,” says Dr. Drymalski.
Get Help For Your Back Pain
While all of this may sound terrible, you can take comfort in knowing that more than 90 percent of ER presentations of low back pain are benign, according to the findings. Most importantly, stay as calm as possible while assessing your pain and symptoms and rely on medical experts to help you figure out why you feel the way you do. Dr. Drymalski emphasizes: “Remember that back pain is very common and most of the time it resolves on its own and is benign. If you are concerned or have warning symptoms, an emergency assessment may be needed. It is important to always tell your doctor all your symptoms, even if you don’t know if they are related to your back pain so that your doctor can develop the most appropriate assessment and treatment plan for you.”