7 Signs You Should Be Seeing A Doctor About Your Back Pain

woman holding neck with back pain
Klara Kulikova

Back pain can be caused by a number of issues—poor posture, a problem in another area of your body (legs, feet, or hips), an injury from exercise, or even daily activities—just to name a few. Sitting slouched in your chair, sleeping in bad positions, and standing with a bent back can lead to back pain, which can sometimes be corrected by making changes. However, that’s not always the case, and some causes of back pain are a little harder to deal with.

So, how can you tell the difference between pain you can fix and something that you should head to the doctor or chiropractor for? Well, the symptoms will differ for each condition, so it’s important to take note of what you’re feeling. 

Here are some warning signs to pay attention to:

The Pain Isn’t Just In Your Back

If the pain feels like it’s coming from your back and is extending to other parts of your body, then this is a good reason to see a doctor. This pain could be an indication of sciatica, which is nerve pain that is usually caused by an injury. The sciatic nerve extends down your leg, which is where you will feel the pain if you’re experiencing this condition.  Some have described this as a burning or a stabbing pain. 

Even if you haven’t injured your back, you may still suffer from sciatica, as there are a number of other factors that may cause it. Simply being more active, or putting too much strain on your body is enough to put you at a greater risk.

You’re Unable To Straighten Your Posture

If your back pain is causing you to slump your posture, and you’ve noticed that you’ve shrunk in height—this is a reason to see a doctor. Your slouched posture might be a sign that you’re experiencing osteoporosis, which can lead to an osteoporotic fracture. This is a condition that weakens your bones, hence you won’t be able to straighten your posture (and in the worst-case scenario, your bones may break more easily as a result).

The Pain Is Persistent

It’s not always easy to determine your symptoms early on, but if you’re experiencing back pain for a long duration of time, you should get it checked out as soon as possible.

Generally, back pain that is a result of poor posture or injury should go away within a week of resting—if that’s not what you’re experiencing, then it’s time to call a professional. 

The Pain Is Worse In Certain Positions

Sometimes back pain isn’t always consistent with your pose or position. If you’re lying down and find that it hurts more to stand up, or that it hurts more when you’re lying down, these are both good reasons to see a doctor.

Take this as warning pain, and get help immediately to prevent the condition from worsening itself.

You Have Swelling In Your Back

Most of the time if you have a back injury, you should recover relatively quickly—unless severe damage was done. In some cases, you might experience swelling on your back following an injury, or through other causes.

No matter the situation, swelling on your back is not a good sign, and is likely hinting at something bigger than a simple injury. Let your doctor take a look if you want to get a proper evaluation of your condition.

Bowel & Urination Problems

You might not even consider this at first, but sometimes back pain can be linked to bowel movement and urination issues. If you’re experiencing these issues at the same time as your back pain, you should seek medical help immediately.

This is a sign that your spinal cord is being compressed, or that you’re experiencing cauda equina. While this condition is quite rare, it’s possible. So, it’s in your best interest to get yourself check out as soon as possible to prevent future damage. 

Drastic Weight Loss

If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight that you’re unable to explain, this could be a sign that you’re not getting the nutrients that you need.

However, unhealthy diets can also lead to this issue, too, and you should make sure that you know what you’re doing before cutting out certain kinds of food. Your bones and muscles need the right nutrition to be able to function properly, and without the proper nutrition, your muscles may not support your body as needed.

Whenever you experience drastic weight loss, determine whether it’s been caused by choices, lifestyle changes, stress, or something else. If you find that it may be related to back pain, it’s a good idea to talk to doctor to figure out what to do and how to get back on track.

For other health tips, read this article on taking control of your health!

Featured Image Credit: Klara Kulikova
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