When to Call a Doctor for Back Pain

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When to Call a Doctor for Back Pain

It can be tricky to know when your back pain needs professional care and when you can simply treat it on your own at home. We review when your back pain requires medical attention here.

Back pain is incredibly common. In fact, experts suggest that 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Not only that, but it’s one of the most common reasons people seek medical care or have to miss work.

When you experience back pain, that inflammation is your body’s way of telling you that something’s going on. It could be joint, nerve, or muscular dysfunction or maybe even a structural imbalance. 

Minor back pain is often the result of a muscle strain or sprain that can happen due to poor posture or improper lifting technique. This can usually be remedied with rest, ice, and medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, back pain can also be an indicator that something else more serious is going on such as a severe injury, a serious health condition, or an infection. 

Because of this, Aditya Patel, MD and our team at Sports, Pain & Regenerative Institute, located in Fairview and Montclair, New Jersey, want to give you some guidelines on when to know when to seek professional medical care for your back pain.

When it’s time to see a doctor about back pain

While back pain often goes away on its own, you will want to seek a doctor’s care if your pain accompanies these warning signs:

    • Pain that becomes worse: You have constant, intense pain that worsens at night or when you’re lying down, which can point to disk degeneration or a sprain
    • Severe pain that spreads: Pain that starts to radiate down one or both of your legs and extends beyond your knees could be a sign of sciatica or a herniated disc
    • Numbness or tingling: If you notice numbness, tingling, or unusual weakness, this could be a sign of spinal cord compression, so don’t wait to be evaluated by a professional
  • Unexplained weight loss: Medical attention is required if you start losing weight as a result of your back pain
  • Problems with urination and bowel movements: If you’re having trouble controlling your bladder or bowels, you may have lumbar spinal stenosis or compression in your spine, which requires evaluation
  • Limited range of motion: Having a difficult time moving around may point to osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease
  • Pain that’s ongoing: When your pain lasts longer than three months, it’s called chronic pain and a doctor needs to check to see if an underlying injury or illness is the culprit

In addition, you should seek care if your pain occurs with a fever, as this can be a sign of a spinal infection, which is a serious health condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Addressing your back pain

If you notice that you’re struggling with any of those above listed issues, come and see our team right away so we can properly diagnose and treat your back pain. 

To schedule an appointment with us, call our office at 201-402-7802 or use our online booking tool today.