Back pain affects millions of Americans every day. However, many people struggle with the problem of deciding when back pain has become severe enough to see a doctor. If persistent, your back pain may be a sign of a serious condition that may require treatment or surgery.

It is estimated that 31 million Americans experience pain in the lower back at any given time. Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons Americans miss work and an estimated $50 billion a year is spent on back pain.

If you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with lower back pain, you may be wondering when it’s time to talk with your doctor. As the pain in the lower back can be related to a number of injuries and conditions, it is important to recognize when lower back pain may be linked to a serious, underlying condition.

Persistent Pain for Two Weeks

Any pain that persists for two weeks should be a red flag. If the pain is severe and not improving over time, or getting worse, it is important to not ignore it. Some back pain can be treated with home remedies such as an ice pack, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and even exercising and stretching. However, when the pain persists and these home remedies are not helping, it might be time to see a doctor.

If you Experienced Trauma

If you experienced trauma, such as a sports injury or auto accident, you might have walked away but could have suffered injuries or spinal trauma. Some back injuries are not immediately apparent nor are they easily visible. If you have experienced any type of trauma and have begun to experience lower back pain, a physical examination and imaging tests can help determine any underlying issues such as a herniated disc or bulging disc.

Pain that Impedes on Daily Living

If your lower back pain is causing you to stay awake at night, it could be something serious. Pain often improves with rest, so when it doesn’t, it should be worrisome. Pain that impedes on simple tasks like sitting down for an extended period of time or walking around could be a signal that your pain is being caused by something more than musculoskeletal issues.

Pain that Radiates

Many spinal conditions cause pain that radiates into your extremities. Lower back pain could radiate into the thighs, legs, and feet. If you’re suffering from a cervical spinal condition, you may experience pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms. Pain that radiates could be a sign of a spinal condition.

Be mindful of all your symptoms and when you go to your doctor’s appointment, provide full disclosure on how long that pain has lasted, your pain levels and how back pain is affecting your everyday life. The more information a professional has, the more they can do to help you.

The Bonati Spine Institute specializes in helping hundreds of patients receive their back and neck pain issues.

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