You may not think you can relate much to your fellow man, but we can almost guarantee that you share at least one thing in common: back pain. It’s the No. 1 cause of disability worldwide.
Back pain can be mild and temporary, acute and severe, or chronic and nagging, but it’s never appreciated. Adding to the challenge is knowing when your symptoms warrant a trip to the doctor’s office.
Below, our team of experts at Nebben Physical Medicine in Clarksville, Tennessee, helps you understand what might cause your back pain and when it’s time to get medical attention.
When to get help for your back pain
About 80% of American adults experience low back pain at some point. But just because it’s a common complaint doesn’t mean everyone knows how to handle it properly.
You can take care of some episodes of back pain at home, but consider a visit to the doctor when you experience:
- Severe pain
- No relief from over-the-counter pain relievers
- No relief from rest and ice/heat therapy
- Persistent and unrelenting pain
- Difficulty walking
- Pain when moving your legs
- Loss of sensation in your legs
- Inability to stand up straight
- Weakness or tingly feeling in your legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
These signs and symptoms indicate back pain from an underlying condition that needs expert evaluation and treatment.
Loss of sensation, coordination, or bowel and bladder control are emergency medical issues, and you should get immediate medical attention.
Why you should get help for your back pain
There are cases where back pain resolves on its own or with basic, conservative care. For example, a sprained ligament or strained muscle needs rest, ice, heat, and over-the-counter pain medication to keep you comfortable as you heal.
Tight and spasming muscles respond best to massage therapy, gentle stretching, and light exercises.
But back pain that seems to come out of nowhere or causes other problems may be a warning sign of a deeper, more serious problem that won’t improve without help from a specialist.
Here are some of those types of conditions that cause back pain.
If you’ve been in an auto accident, suffered a sports injury, or slipped and fallen, you may have damaged your vertebrae or discs. Fractured bones can heal, but you need our help to make sure they heal in proper alignment.
Spinal fractures are more common if you have bone and joint issues like osteoporosis and arthritis.
Injury, disease, and general wear-and-tear can impact the discs in your spine and cause them to rupture or bulge. The result is a disc pressing up against a nerve, which can cause significant pain, numbness, and tingling.
Your sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, runs from your lower back, through your buttocks, and down each of your legs. If it’s pinched or irritated, the result can be pain, tingling, and numbness at any point along the path of the nerve.
This condition is called sciatica, and it’s usually a symptom of an underlying issue, such as a herniated disc, bone spur, tumor, misaligned spine, or anything else that can cause pressure.
Depending on what's causing your sciatica, we may need to realign your spine with chiropractic care, physical therapy, bracing, K-laser treatment, trigger point therapy, and/or Acousana™.
Scoliosis and other skeletal irregularities throw your spine out of alignment, creating painful pressure points and overworked muscles. Give us the details of your spinal health history, and we can better tailor your treatment recommendations.
Keep in mind that even those in perfect health can develop back pain. For instance, pregnant women often experience temporary sciatica as their bodies shift and stretch connective tissues.
Other conditions that can cause your back to ache have nothing to do with your back, such as kidney stones, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and abdominal aortic aneurysms.
We recommend you never ignore any back pain. What you may consider no big deal could be warning you of a more serious problem. Call our friendly staff or use our online booking tool to schedule a back pain consultation today.