Back pain can be dull or stabbing, and it can stop you in your tracks. One of the most common causes of back pain is a minor injury to a ligament (sprain) or muscle (strain) in your back. Sudden or awkward movements, lifting heavy objects, overdoing physical exercise, or not having any exercise at all, can all lead to back pain. Back pain can set you back, but do you know when it is time to see a doctor for your back pain?
Going it On Your Own
Overdoing it in the gym or in the garden can result in back pain. The good news is that most back pain is temporary and will go away on its own without a doctor’s treatment, sometimes in just a few days or a few weeks at most. Over-the-counter pain medication help reduce back pain and any inflammation. Cold or hot packs applied to the painful area can also helpful. Moderate rest is recommended but try to avoid spending long periods of time in bed or lying down.
When to call a doctor
If after three or four days of home treatment your back pain hasn’t gotten better, it may be time to consult a doctor. You should schedule an appointment if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Numbness, weakness or tingling in one or both legs, particularly if the pain spreads below the knee.
- Swelling and redness on your back.
- Severe pain that doesn’t improve with rest or makes it difficult to sleep.
Back pain can be the sign of a serious problem and may require an immediate visit to the emergency room when your pain:
- Follows a motor vehicle accident, a bad fall or a sports injury.
- Causes changes in your bladder or bowel habits.
- Is accompanied by fever.
- Is accompanied by weight loss not related to a diet or lifestyle change.
Other serious causes of back pain:
Back pain can also be the result of age-related changes in the structure of your spine, such as arthritis; or by more serious injuries such as a herniated or ruptured disk or a fractured vertebra. Work-related injuries are also a common cause of back pain. Certain infections can bring back pain, among other symptoms.
Various medical conditions, some of them severe, can also be associated with back pain as one of the symptoms. Some of these diseases include:
- Osteoarthritis (the breakdown of body joints)
- Sciatica (problems with the nerves in your back and hips)
- Osteoporosis (bone deterioration)
- Ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory disease that affects your vertebrae)
- Osteomyelitis (an infection of the bones)
- Fibromyalgia (a problem with the nervous system)
- Endometriosis (buildup of tissue in the uterus)
- Kidney stones and kidney infection
- Liver disease
- Cancer or cysts
Diagnosing back pain
During your doctor’s visit, you will be asked about your medical history and when the pain started, how severe it is and whether it limits your movement. After a thorough examination, your doctor may recommend different medical tests to help determine the cause of your back pain. Some of these tests may include X-rays, MRI and CAT scans, ultrasound, and in some cases a myelogram (using a contrast dye in your bones).
Don’t let back pain set you back in your daily life. The experts at Suburban PT can offer a variety of services – from massage and platelet replacement therapies to nutrition counseling and balance and fall prevention. To schedule an appointment, call our Brecksville office at (440) 746-1730, or our Twinsburg office at (330) 963-2920. Same-day appointments may often be available. You may also submit an appointment request via our appointment request form.