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5 Signs of Serious Back Problems

serious back problems

The most widely shared statistic regarding back pain is that an estimated 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. But, considering this accounts for a broad range of time, let’s put it in a different context.

Another survey shows that more than 1 in 4 adults has reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months. Due to its prevalence and the wide range of severity, many sufferers often attribute their back pain to normal aches or a normal part of aging and don’t consult a physician until the pain becomes debilitating. Before you write off your back pain as “normal,” here are five signs of serious back problems you should never ignore.

1. Continuous pain

Continuous pain in your back that interferes with daily activities including work and sleep, should never be ignored. When this pain doesn’t go away on its own or start to subside after a week of home treatment, get checked out by a medical professional. Don’t ignore pain that radiates beyond your back, such as pain that shoots down your leg.

2. Fever or other signs of infection

When your back pain is accompanied by a fever or other signs of infection, such as a headache or chills, it’s more than just a backache or a muscle strain. Left untreated, infections can worsen quickly and even become life-threatening if infection enters your bloodstream.

3. Unexplained weight loss

Losing weight without trying while you’re experiencing back pain is a sign that can signal a serious condition, especially if you also have pain in the abdomen. You should seek prompt medical attention if you have this combination of symptoms to rule out dangerous disease. If your back and abdominal pain is also accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever, you should seek emergency medical care.

4. Weakness, numbness or tingling

Back discomfort accompanied by weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs signifies a medical condition that should be evaluated by a doctor. These signs often indicate a pinched or damaged nerve.

5. Problems with urination or bowel movements

When you’re having problems with bowel movements or urination at the same time as back pain, discuss your symptoms with a medical professional. This includes any pain when using the restroom or changes in frequency. Bowel obstructions, bladder infections, and kidney stones, infections or disease, are some of the conditions that commonly cause low back pain.

Getting Help for Serious Back Problems

Pain is your body’s way of getting your attention, so it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you. What you assume to be minor back pain can be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition.

If remedies such as ice and rest don’t bring relief for your back pain and inflammation, consulting a specialist can help identify the source and the best way to treat it. Only with an accurate diagnosis can a treatment plan be put in place to get you on the road to better health.

Dr. Timothy Keenen of Pacific Spine Specialists is one of the leading spine surgeons in the region and specializes in state-of-the-art procedures using leading-edge technology. His philosophy is to offer each patient the right surgery for the right reason at the right time. If surgery is not indicated, the team at Pacific Spine Specialists will facilitate your referral to expert non-surgical providers to manage your spine condition. To schedule an appointment, call (503) 885-9391 or complete our new patient self-referral form and our new patient coordinator will contact you to discuss your symptoms.