Question

Back Pain

When should I go to a doctor for back pain?

A Answers (11)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Back Pain Surgery
    You should see a doctor if you have pain all the time, when exercise and rest don’t relieve it, or if you have searing pain down your legs. It is especially important to see a doctor or if you begin to feel weak. Watch Dr. Oz talk about back pain.




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  • First, a loss of bladder or bowel control requires immediate medical attention. If you’ve had back pain for longer than three months, you should consult a spine specialist. Accompanying leg or buttock pain that lasts more than a couple of months may indicate a nerve root compression. If there are other symptoms such as chronic back pain in your thoracic—or middle—region, pain with motion, or difficulty urinating, you should be evaluated as soon as possible.

  • AUCLA Health answered

    Typically, we recommend seeing a doctor if the back pain has been there for quite some time since benign conditions typically improve in the first two to six weeks. However if back pain is quite severe or if there are any neurological issues, one should see a doctor sooner. The nerves and the spinal cord run through the middle of the spine and sometimes these can be affected from spinal conditions.

  • If you have back pain, see your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:
    • Difficulty urinating or controlling urine
    • Blood in your urine
    • Loss of bowel control
    Make an appointment to see your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms:
    • Sudden, severe pain
    • Severe back pain that gets worse over several weeks instead of getting better
    • Back pain that lasts longer than 8 weeks or returns regularly
    • Numbness or weakness in your legs
    • Fever
  • ARealAge answered
    A visit to your healthcare provider is a good idea if you experience any of the following with your back pain:
    • Your symptoms are severe.
    • The pain is keeping you from doing things that you do every day.
    • The problem does not go away or get better within a few days.
  • AAudrey K. Chun, MD, Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    Although we know that when we have a new pain we should see the doctor to determine the cause, many of us feel that back pain is so common it's nothing to worry about. But there are warning signs that back pain might be something more serious. You should see your doctor if:
    • You're 70 years or older and have the onset of new back pain.
    • You have osteoporosis, or the back pain is due to trauma, including a fall.
    • Your immune system is weak, you've had cancer or you've taken corticosteroids for a long time.
    • The pain persists even when lying down, or it awakens you from sleep.
    • You have leg weakness or develop new sexual, bowel or bladder dysfunction.
    • You also have an unexplained fever or weight loss.
    • The pain spreads into the lower leg, especially if the leg feels weak.
    • The back pain does not improve within four weeks.
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  • ARonald Mark Firth, MD, Family Medicine, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    See your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:

        • Difficulty urinating or controlling urine

        • Blood in your urine

        • Loss of bowel control

    Make an appointment to see your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms:

        • Sudden, severe pain

        • Severe back pain that gets worse over several weeks instead of
          getting better

        • Back pain that lasts longer than 8 weeks or returns regularly

        • Numbness or weakness in your legs

        • Fever
  • AMatthew H. Milligan, MD, Family Medicine, answered on behalf of TriStar Summit Medical Center
    You should see your physician for back pain if any of the following apply.
    • back pain accompanied by new onset incontinence of bowel or bladder
    • abdominal pain
    • fevers or chills
    • pain lasting more than seven days
    • pain so severe that you cannot move or function.
  • ALangston Holly, MD, Neurosurgery, answered on behalf of UCLA Health

    See your doctor if your back pain is associated with any neurological symptoms such as weakness in the legs, numbness or bowel and/or bladder changes. Such additional symptoms may indicate a potentially serious problem that requires immediate attention. If low-back pain is associated only with leg pain, or sciatica, or with back pain alone, home bed rest and anti-inflammatory medication should be sufficient. If there is no improvement after several weeks, or if the symptoms worsen, it would be a good idea to contact your doctor.

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  • ARonald Tolchin, DO, Physical Medicine/rehabilitation, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
    There are many causes of back pain, some of which may not be directly related to the spine. If you unable to control back pain with rest, ice and/or heat, or over-the-counter medication, it’s likely time to consult a doctor.

    Back pain that stems from reversible problems usually goes away over a short period of time, which could be hours or days. But if the back pain persists and restricts you day-to-day functioning, the situation requires a professional diagnosis. 
  • AHarris McIlwain, MD, Pain Medicine, answered
    If you have back pain plus any of the following warning signs, call your doctor immediately:

    • pain that travels down one or both legs
    • pain that is worse with a cough or sneeze
    • pain that awakens you at night
    • changes in your bowel or bladder habits
    • fever or weight loss
    • pain in your abdomen
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