SIGNS THAT YOUR BACK PAIN COULD BE SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS.
Back pain is a common problem and so common that we at least had one episode in our lifetime. The majority of the back pain symptoms, 80%-90% will resolve by itself or just need simple remedies such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, some stretching exercises. Most of the time it is just a pulled muscle or flaring up of inflammation from baseline wear and tear, i.e arthritis, a degenerative disc which most of the patients do not know they have it.
However, there are some “red flags” that I will share with you for close monitoring of your symptoms as these warning signs should prompt you to seek medical attention sooner than later.
- Pain is out of proportion. Meaning that when things do not make sense. For example, your pain is so debilitating but you did not recall and significant “unusual” mishaps or activities that could lead to the symptoms. I will give you an example. A 60-year-old housewife who bend over to get her trash bag and had a sudden onset of severe back pain and it wouldn’t go away in 1-2 weeks but the pain just kept progressing. Most of this particular scenario prompted the physician to think of compression fracture from Osteoporosis. It means that she probably has undiagnosed osteoporosis but never know about it and her bone is so thin that it cracked or collapsed by itself with just as simple normal activities because the bone is literally a shell from undiagnosed and untreated osteoporosis.
- Having associated “nerve” symptoms. When you have pain radiating down your legs which sometimes called “Sciatica” or when you have associated tingling, numbness, and weakness. These symptoms are likely from a herniated disc, protruded disc, extruded disc, and ruptured disc. The slipped disc or disc material coming out of place and pushing against the nerve that going to your legs and when it does that there is a significant inflammation in addition to mechanical problem. This needs more attention sooner than later.
- Having associated fever, chills, ill or sick feeling. These signs pointing towards occult infection. Spine infection is very serious. You need to see a physician urgently if you have fever, chills associated with back pain
- Having bowel and/or bladder symptoms. The symptoms could be incontinence or not having an “urge” to empty bowel or bladder. These usually mean there is significant pressure on the nerve that controls your bowel, bladder within the spinal canal and it literally does not send the signal to make you “go”. A large herniated disc, protruded disc, extruded disc or sometimes we called massive herniated disc can cause this. This considers an “urgent” situation and in most cases, “urgent” surgery has to be done to prevent permanent nerve damage.
- Having a past history of cancer or tumor. You better be safe than sorry to get yourself checked to make sure you do not have cancer or tumor spreading to your spine. The eraly we made the diagnosis, the higher chance of recovery.
We are here for you with all your concerns about your back pain. Please contact us if you need to get your back pain evaluated.