When Should Back Pain Worry You?

It's normal to experience some level of back pain from time to time, but when should it be a cause for concern? Most back pain will go away after a few days, but if you've been feeling pain for more than a week, it's time to call a doctor. As a rule of thumb, if lower back pain does not go away within 1 to 2 weeks, you should visit your doctor. Your pain is most likely not a sign of a medical emergency, but a doctor can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan. If you have severe back pain that is combined with pain in other areas, such as a throbbing pain in your leg, you should see a doctor.

If you have any of these signs, a spinal specialist can investigate the underlying cause of your back pain using diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or myelogram. Additionally, if you have a car accident (even a minor one), fall, or suffer any type of injury that causes back pain, it's time to see a professional. The evidence is an excellent basis for more substantial and lasting peace of mind for patients with low back pain. Most people who mark one or two things don't have an ominous cause for their low back pain.

In particular, they deserve praise for strongly discouraging doctors from requesting diagnostic imaging tests only “for patients with low back pain when there are serious or progressive neurological deficits or when serious underlying diseases are suspected.” Occasionally, back pain is a warning sign of cancer, autoimmune disease, infection, or a handful of other scary factors. It's important to be able to identify the severity of symptoms and keep track of how long the pain lasts. The great idea behind classification-based cognitive functional therapy (CB-CFT or simply CFT) is that most back pain has nothing to do with frightening spinal problems and can therefore break the cycle of pain and disability by relieving patients' fears and anxiety. Learn about The Spine Center at UT Southwestern, where the multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and providers offers cutting-edge treatments for back pain and spinal related injuries.

The most worrisome types of back pain rarely involve severe pain, and many common problems (such as disc slips) are mostly much less serious than is feared. As with many health conditions, the key is to prevent and address problems early. Solve the back pain puzzle one area of the spine at a time.

Marcie Macvicar
Marcie Macvicar

Extreme web nerd. Total food aficionado. Typical coffee evangelist. Alcohol enthusiast. Passionate coffee evangelist.

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