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.
A Answers (12)
Johns Hopkins Medicine answered
UCLA 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.
Intermountain Healthcare answeredIf 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
- 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
Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center answeredYou may be wondering if it’s time to speak with your doctor about the pain you’re feeling in your back. If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, it may be time to make an appointment:
- Is it painful to perform everyday activities?
- Do you have persistent pain, despite pain medication?
- Is it difficult to lift or carry certain items?
- Does neck pain cause frequent headaches or difficulty concentrating?
- Is your pain aggravated by walking, sitting or standing for long periods of time?
- Does the pain interfere with your sleep?
- Does the affected area hurt one or more days per week?
- Is back pain limiting your ability to drive, travel or participate in social activities?
RealAge answeredA 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.
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
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.
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.Helpful? 2 people found this helpful.
Ronald Tolchin, DO, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South FloridaThere 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.
Harris McIlwain, MD, Rheumatology, answeredIf 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
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.
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
• Back pain that lasts longer than 8 weeks or returns regularly
• Numbness or weakness in your legs