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When To See a Doctor For Back Pain

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Back pain can vary – from a twinge in the spine when bending at certain angles, to debilitating pain that radiates into your thighs and leaves you unable to move. 

Regardless of severity, we know it can be frustrating – especially if it persists for longer than a couple of weeks. It can cause a whole host of questions, from “why does my back hurt?”, “what caused this pain?” and ultimately “do I need to see a doctor?”

Today we’ll focus on answering the latter – and arguably the most important of the three when looking to alleviate your pain. 

Can my back pain be treated at home?

Some back pain can be treated at home and does not require medical attention immediately. This could be pain that occurs after experiencing an abnormal amount of twisting, stretching and heavy lifting, or from something like a pulled muscle. 

The common denominator for pain like this is that it more often than not will ease in less than 2 weeks. This is also known as acute pain. 

If you believe that your pain may be acute then our recommendation is to spend 7-10 days self-treating with home remedies like over-the-counter pain relievers and ice to bring down inflammation. 

What symptoms indicate a doctor’s visit is warranted? 

If, however, your pain does not ease within the first few weeks then medical attention may be necessary. This is what we would call chronic pain.

The causes of chronic pain can range from herniated discs causing pressure on nerve roots, to slipped discs, and many more possibilities. This is why it’s crucial to seek diagnostic testing if you do not notice a reduction in your pain with at-home treatment. Without proper care, your pain can worsen, cause permanent nerve damage and even limit mobility. 

With that said, there are some symptoms that indicate the need for immediate medical attention as soon as they are noticed. These include: 

  • Sudden loss of mobility
  • If you notice you are dragging one of you feet while walking (known as as drop foot)
  • Sudden loss of bladder or bowel control 
  • A sudden high fever accompanying the pain

In short – if your pain persists for longer than 2 weeks or is very sudden and severe, we would recommend that you see a doctor. If the pain is manageable and has appeared after a day of excessive strain or stress then you can first try to self-treat. 

If ever in doubt about the severity of your condition, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of spine doctors in Texas, at a Spine Team Texas campus near you.