Ask anyone if they have ever experienced lower back pain; you would be hard pressed to find someone who has never felt a little sore after a tough day at the gym or slept with a heating pad after a weekend of moving furniture. In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons why people see their doctor or miss work. While some back pain comes as fast it goes away, this isn’t always the case with chronic back pain. When back pain isn’t attributed to recent activities and won’t go away with time, it could be the sign of something more serious. So how do you know when to let the pain run its course, vs. worrying about lower back pain?
Causes for Concern
If you are experiencing any of the following signs, don’t ignore it; it could be cause for concern if accompanied by persistent back pain.
· Numbness, especially when it follows an accident. If you experience numbness or tingling in the back or anywhere in your body, seek medical attention right away. Tingling, numbness or weakness in the back or legs could be a sign of a pinched nerve, herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
· Shoots pain, especially through your hips and legs. If you have back pain accompanied by a shooting sensation through your hips and legs, this may be a signal that the discs are degenerating, herniated or bulging disc and tapping onto your sciatica nerve. In such a case the pain could get much worse. Don’t delay seeing your healthcare professional.
· An intermittent and varying degree of pain at different times; say at night or when you lie down, could be a harbinger to a stroke or heart attack. Pay close attention to your symptoms and see the doctor right away, even visit the emergency room if the pain warrants it.
· Pain accompanied by frequent urination or constipation may indicate a blockage in your colon or rectum. In this case, back pain may be caused simply by dehydration or failure to have a bowel movement, however, it may also be an infection or tumor, and should be checked out immediately.
· Fever. Fever indicates that your body is fighting something foreign or abnormal, usually an infection; with lower back pain it could be anything from a kidney infection to an inflamed disc. Do not ignore back pain that is accompanied by fever. If your fever and back pain persist, see a doctor immediately.
· Unexpected loss. No doubt a planned weight loss can relieve pain and pressure on an overburdened back. However, unexplained weight loss accompanying back pain could be a sign of a disease of the digestive tract, to include Crohn’s disease, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. If you believe this might be the case, seek medical attention as early as possible.
· Cancer. Lower back pain has proven to be a key indicator in a variety of cancers, from breast to lung, and should be checked out immediately, especially if accompanied by any of the previous symptoms.
Taking Back Pain Seriously
If you do experience any of the above symptoms, speak with a medical care professional immediately. Your doctor will perform an examination and take your personal health history. The doctor may have questions concerning back injuries you may have incurred or any recent activities that could have resulted in your pain. At the time of your examination, your health professional may order imaging tests to assist with the diagnosis. An image of the area may reveal inflammation, a slipped disc, ligament or muscle tears, or a fracture. If the condition appears to be musculoskeletal, you will be referred to an orthopedist; if there appears to be a different underlying condition, you will be referred to that specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
Stop the Worry and Take Action
If you are suffering from chronic back pain, your body is trying to tell you something. Regardless of whether your back pain is related to an accident, injury or disease, the board-certified physicians and medical staff at The Brooks Clinic can help, providing an accurate diagnosis, treatment and excellent care. If you are looking for the best joint and spine care in Oklahoma City, look no further than the experts at The Brooks Clinic. To request an appointment, call 405-400-0877.