Health Care

5 Signs It's Time to See a Doctor for Back Pain

Woman stretching out a sore back
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Your spine is a fascinating piece of architecture.

“It's made up of 24 bones that are connected to ligaments and muscles to create the spinal column, giving your body its form and function,” explains Neurosurgeon Mohamed Saleh, MD. “It also holds and protects your spinal cord, a bundle of nerves that send signals to the rest of your body.”

Considering the vital role that this part of your body plays in everyday life, it's no surprise that over 19 million people go to a doctor every year for back pain.

Potentially Serious Back Pain Symptoms

You might be thinking that you can't go to the doctor every time you have a slight ache or soreness. We're here to help you determine when seeing a doctor is the right choice.

Here are five signs you should see a doctor for your neck or back pain:

1. Your pain doesn't go away or you have shooting pain down your arms or legs

Back pain will usually go away with some over-the-counter medicine and rest. But, if you have pain that lasts for more than two weeks, if the pain keeps you from performing daily activities or if you have shooting pain down your arms or legs, it’s time to see your doctor and find out what's going on.

2. Weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms and legs

Keep track of the areas that tingle, feel weak or go numb and be sure to tell your doctor. “Numbness and tingling could be signs of nerve irritation or damage. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage,” explains Dr. Saleh.

3. Nighttime pain

Keep track of your back pain intensity. If your pain worsens at nighttime, it could be a sign of something more serious.

4. Fever along with back pain or weight loss

“A fever that is over 101 degrees Fahrenheit with persistent pain can be a sign you have an infection,” Dr. Saleh says. Tell your doctor if your back pain is accompanied by a fever or if you experience sudden, rapid weight loss without actively dieting.

5. Problems with balance or controlling your bowels or bladder

“It might seem unrelated, but if you have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder, or if you experience numbness and/or weakness in your hips it could be a sign of more serious problems,” says Dr. Saleh. These symptoms are important to know when diagnosing your back problem.

Whole-Person Healing for Back Pain

You know your body better than anyone and will be able to tell what pain is common for you and what pain is abnormal. When your everyday aches and pains become more intense, it’s time to see a specialist.

Spine health begins with you, and the first step is being attentive to something that is out of the ordinary.

“Back pain shouldn't stop you from living your life or keep you from the activities that you love,” encourages Dr. Saleh. By recognizing these 5 symptoms, you are already taking a proactive step toward better spine health!

If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, know that compassionate spine care is here for you, close to home, at AdventHealth Zephyrhills. Our multidisciplinary team, including a dedicated spine nurse navigator, can diagnose and treat a variety of spinal conditions, and help you get you back on your feet in no time.

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