Back Pain: 6 Signs You Need to See a Doctor | Back & Neck Pain Relief

If you suffer from herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease or back injuries that hinder daily life, we want to hear your story. Our mission is to provide you with solace while sharing remedies and pain management methods from our community.


Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the United States. In fact, experts have predicted that about 75-85% of Americans will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime.

Many factors trigger back pain, and the ache can range from mild to severe. If you’re only dealing with short-term pain due to things like stress and exhausting activities, it may heal itself a few days with self-care and home treatment. However, if the pain is radiating, accompanied by other symptoms, and lasts longer than two weeks, it might signify a serious health issue. You certainly need a trip to the doctor.

As John Lamm. M.D., a neurosurgeon and spine specialist at Riverside Hampton Roads Neurosurgical and Spine Specialists, says:

“If back pain doesn’t resolve within a few weeks, keeps you from doing your daily activities or prevents a good night’s rest, then it could be time to make an appointment to be evaluated.”

It is essential to monitor your back pain level and watch out for these warning situations:

1. You’re Experiencing Persistent Fever.

If your back pain is accompanied by an unexplained and persistent fever that doesn’t respond to standard over-the-counter medications, you could have a serious infection. A doctor can treat the infection by prescribing antibiotics and recommending rest from any activity for a couple of days.

2. You Have Unexplained Weight Loss.

Similar to fever, back pain paired with sudden weight loss is a sign of infection. In some cases, it could also be due to a tumor. Your doctor may advise you to undergo blood work or an MRI examination.

3. You Feel Numbness Or Tingling.

Are you experiencing a tingling or numbness sensation along with your back pain? Usually, that’s an indicator of nerve irritation or damage. It could also be a sign of conditions like herniated disc and spinal stenosis. It’s crucial to seek urgent medical care when the pins-and-needles feeling doesn’t go away because prolonged nerve irritation can lead to permanent disabilities.

4. You Cannot Control Your Bowels Or Urination.

Back pains that arise along with lack of bladder or bowel control is a sign of Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES). This is a rare yet severe disorder wherein the nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord become paralyzed. This condition requires urgent surgical treatment.

5. Your Back Pain is Worse During Nighttime.

Do you feel fine during the day but experience back pain at night when you’re about to sleep? That’s a sign of a serious medical emergency.

According to New York City chiropractor Todd Sinett, who’s also the author of The Truth About Back Pain, “Pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night can be the sign of disc degeneration or a sprain or something more serious like cancer or a tumor.”

It’s best to consult with a back and spine specialist as soon as possible.

6. You Have Difficulty Walking.

If your toe drags on the ground when you walk and you have to consciously lift your foot higher to avoid the dragging, you may have a foot drop. This condition coupled with back pain could indicate critical issues such as nerve injury, muscle problem, or brain disorder.

Which Doctor Should You Consult For Back Pain?

People suffering from back pain don’t need to resort to surgery right away. You may begin by getting help from a medical professional specializing in non-invasive treatments. This could be a physical therapist, occupational therapist, chiropractor, pain management specialist, or orthopaedic physician assistant. They can determine the proper treatment to remedy your pain.

If non-surgical treatments don’t work for your condition, they might refer you to other spine specialists such as a physiatrist or a spine surgeon.

Never ignore your back pain – not only because it could become worse but also because it could signal a serious disease.

Remember, our body does send us messages about its conditions and warn us of an approaching illness. It’s good to always pay attention to what our body is telling us. If you’re experiencing back pain paired with the red flags we’ve mentioned above, it’s time to stop your home remedy and go out and seek professional medical help.

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