November 27


How to Know the Right Time to See a Doctor for Back Pain

Back pain can be debilitating, yet approximately 8% of all adults in the United States experience chronic or persistent back pain. It’s also the sixth-most costly condition in the country, with associated costs equalling more than $12 billion annually. While it’s easy to assume you simply have to put up with back pain and carry on as best as you can, there may come a time when you need to see a healthcare professional. If you can relate to these situations, that time might be now.

It Relates to a Workplace Incident

Many people experience back injuries while performing duties at work. You might feel nothing more than discomfort at the time, but it might not be long until it transforms into excruciating pain. Even while it doesn’t feel significant, you should see a healthcare professional when your discomfort relates to your job.

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Workplaces typically require a report to be filed for any incident on their worksite, and they must report the injury to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within seven calendar days. If you don’t report your back injury and the pain worsens, you might find it much more challenging to seek financial support in the form of a workers’ compensation claim.

The Pain Won’t Go Away

Most people experiencing any type of pain won’t immediately seek help from a doctor. You might hope that the pain will go away on its own, and that’s the experience of many. However, if your pain doesn’t lessen within a week, an appointment with a healthcare professional can be necessary. They can perform tests and examinations to diagnose where the pain is coming from and potentially provide a treatment plan to alleviate it.

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You’re Experiencing Tingling, Weakness, and Numbness

Some people experience back pain after turning their bodies the wrong way or being involved in an accident. However, others experience unique feelings like numbness, tingling, and weakness. As you’re not in pain, you might not think you need to seek professional help, but a lack of pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you haven’t experienced an injury.

Numbness, tingling, and weakness can sometimes indicate nerve damage or irritation, requiring medical assistance to rectify. Sometimes, such symptoms left untreated can result in permanent damage.

The Pain Is No Longer Only In Your Back

After an incident or accident leads to back pain, you might only expect to experience pain and discomfort in your back. However, the pain can sometimes spread beyond the back and travel down the legs.

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Seeing a doctor can be necessary if you experience shooting pains that feel like they’re traveling past your back. Sometimes, this can mean that you have a more severe problem than a minor tweak or muscle strain that will heal on its own. Instead, it might be a damaged disk that requires prompt intervention.

You Feel More Pain In Certain Situations

Some people experience a constant dull ache in their back no matter what they’re doing, while others notice more pain or discomfort when they perform specific tasks. For example, if you’re in excruciating pain when lying down, this can sometimes indicate a severe health concern, such as infection, nerve compression, or even cancer.


If your back pain quickly becomes more severe during particular activities, don’t delay seeking medical treatment. The sooner you seek help, the earlier you might benefit from a treatment plan.

You Can’t Control Your Bowels or Bladder

It’s hard to believe that minor or severe back pain can cause problems with your ability to control your bowel or bladder, but it’s possible. If you experience any loss of control while dealing with ongoing back pain, seek help at a hospital without delay.

A loss of bladder and bowel control, often accompanied by leg numbness, can sometimes point to a rare syndrome known as cauda equina syndrome, relating to paralyzed nerves in the lower spine. If left untreated, this syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage. Typically, the best medical approach involves nerve compression surgery to preserve their function.

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You’re Losing Weight Without Trying To

Many people have to eat a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight, but if you’ve been experiencing back pain and have now lost weight, that can be reason enough to seek professional help. Unexplainable weight loss can sometimes indicate a serious health problem, such as an infection or cancer.

It can be hard to know when it’s the right time to ask for help for general pain and discomfort and something as common as back pain. However, if you can relate to these situations above, now might be the right time to seek medical assistance without delay.


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