Back pain is common enough that it’s one of the top reasons people give for missing work, and it’s a leading cause of disability in the United States. Self-care such as rest, heat to the painful region, and over-the-counter pain relievers can often ease your discomfort.
But is there a magic formula that will help you decide when you should call the doctor for a spinal evaluation? Not really.
At American Neurospine Institute, we always encourage residents in our north Texas communities to schedule a visit any time they have concerns about back pain. But there are a few hints that our board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeon, Dr Ripul Panchal, suggests you take seriously regarding when to see a doctor for your back pain.
Let your symptoms be your guide
It may sound cliché, but tuning in to your symptoms may be the best way to determine whether you need medical care for your back. You know your body better than anyone else, after all, and are often the best judge of whether a doctor’s expertise is necessary to manage your pain.
In general, seek medical care for your back pain if:
- Your symptoms worsen rather than improve with home remedies
- You experience improvement, but then sudden worsening of your pain
- You develop new symptoms, such as tingling or numbness in your arms or legs
- Your symptoms persist beyond a few days
There’s really no need to suffer with back pain because so many treatments can relieve your symptoms and get you moving again.
When it’s more than a pulled muscle
When your back pain starts out as tenderness that’s consistent with a muscle pull, but it changes in nature to include pain and other symptoms traveling into your arms or legs, it could indicate nerve entrapment caused by underlying issues.
Among these conditions are a herniated disc, narrowing (stenosis) of the spinal canal, and advancing arthritis. These are all issues that require a specialist’s evaluation and care.
When medical care for back pain becomes urgent
There are symptoms that indicate you should seek immediate medical care for your back pain. They include:
- Changes in bowel or bladder function, such as sudden loss of urine or stool
- Back pain after a fall or injury to the back
- Weakness or numbness in your arms or legs
- Back pain accompanied by fever
Dr. Panchal also recommends you contact the office if:
- You develop back pain and have a history of osteoporosis
- You develop your first episode of back pain after age 50
- You have a history of steroid use and are experiencing back pain
It’s also necessary to contact Dr. Panchal if you develop back pain and have a history of cancer; it’s important to rule out cancerous changes in your spine. Spinal tumors are rare but can cause progressive back pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis if not treated promptly.
Otherwise, we encourage you to schedule a visit with Dr. Panchal any time you have concerns about your back pain, would like to understand what’s causing your symptoms, or would like guidance regarding how to prevent future episodes of back pain.
Schedule your visit at American Neurospine Institute today. Call the office in Plano (972-833-8287) or Frisco (971-247-1066) or use the convenient online scheduling tool to book your appointment. You can also send us a message here on our website.