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9 Warning Signs to See a Doctor for Neck or Back Pain Treatment

Back or neck pain usually goes away on its own. Nonetheless, any or all of your symptoms may indicate a need for medical intervention. And, while it is unlikely, you may need to visit the emergency department.

When in doubt about the severity or meaning of your symptoms, contact your primary care provider. Here are eight symptoms that you should consult a doctor about your neck or back problems.

1. Pain That Keeps You Up At Night

Back pain that keeps you awake at night or worsens while you sleep is usually not life-threatening. However, it is best to have it checked, especially if it is accompanied by a temperature increase. 

Back or neck pain accompanied by a fever could indicate an infection such as meningitis. Infections can get serious quickly, so don’t call your doctor – rapid diagnosis and treatment may save your life.

2. You Have Had Cancer

A cancer history mixed with first-time back discomfort could be a colon, rectum, or ovary cancer symptom. Growing cancer may place strain on organs, nerves, and/or blood vessels, resulting in back pain. Worse, the pain may not appear until the tumor is quite large.

In most cases, cancer has already spread by the time there is discomfort. As a result, it’s critical to get medical assistance as soon as possible.

3. You Are Over 50

Back pain becomes more likely as we age. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Menopause Review, the increase in menstruating women may correlate with the onset of perimenopause.

Furthermore, because aging is frequently accompanied by slowness and a more sedentary lifestyle, it may contribute to obesity, which is linked to an increased risk of back pain. According to the Menopause Review study, obesity, defined as a BMI of 30 or more, increases the prevalence of pain in women.

If you’re over 50 and suffer back pain, especially if you’re female, your doctor may be able to work with you on a pain management plan that includes physical therapy, weight management, and other treatments.

4. Incontinence or Leg Weakness

If managing your bladder or bowel has become increasingly difficult, and/or your legs gradually weaken, you should seek emergency medical attention. Cauda equina syndrome is characterized by bowel and bladder incontinence, increasing weakening, and loss of sensation in the seat area. Cauda equina syndrome is usually treated with emergency back surgery.

5. You Had a Fall, Accident or Trauma

If you’ve just been injured by a fall, blow, or accident, you should see a doctor for back or neck pain as soon as possible. Even if you were able to walk away unscathed, any new spine discomfort you experience may be due to the hit.

If you have osteoporosis and have recently fallen or been in an accident, you are more likely to sustain a spine injury.

6. Pain Radiates Down One Leg or Arm

Sciatica is a term used to describe pain, weakness, numbness, and electrical feelings that run down one leg. Although sciatica symptoms can be caused by a tight piriformis muscle (resulting in piriformis syndrome), they are most commonly caused by pressure on a spinal nerve root. Radiculopathy refers to symptoms caused by pressure on a spinal nerve root.

Your doctor will most likely try to trigger your symptoms by evaluating your dermatomes to determine your sciatica. Dermatomes are skin regions fed by spinal nerve roots. 

This testing may aid in determining which spinal nerve root or roots are inflamed. As a result, you may be able to make the most precise treatment decision available. A herniated disc frequently causes radiculopathy, but this is not always the case. It could also be caused by other factors, such as bone spurs pressing on spinal nerve roots.

7. Bending or Flexing Worsens Symptoms

Another sign of a disc problem is leg pain that worsens when you bend over or lift your knees toward your chest. Bulging discs, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease are all examples of disc issues.

8. Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Cramping, weakness, soreness, and tingling in your legs, particularly when walking, are all common signs of spinal stenosis. These symptoms are referred to as neurogenic claudication. If you have them, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

9. Your Pain Persists

Has your pain persisted for more than three weeks? If this is the case, it could be persistent. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than the normal recovery time for an injury. Pain, once chronic, follows its own set of principles, being intensified or otherwise distorted.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to successfully controlling it and moving on with your life. The sooner you can get your pain appropriately analyzed and treatment begun, the greater your chances of recovery will be. 

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