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When to See Your Doctor


Maj Spencer
For most people, low back pain will resolve itself within a few days or weeks. There are, however, cases where the pain becomes chronic, and a provider should be consulted. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about when a patient should see their provider for low back pain?

Dr. Patel
Sure thing, Major Spencer. Symptoms of low back pain can range from muscle ache to a sharper pain, limited flexibility, limited range of motion, or an inability to stand straight. Most of the time, these symptoms will go away on their own relatively quickly. But there are situations where it’s important to seek medical attention. These situations include:

  • Pain that persists after three to five days of rest
  • Pain that keeps you from moving
  • Pain that shoots into your arm or leg
  • Pain that keeps you from sleeping at night
  • Pain that increases after a few days rest, and
  • Pain that does not lessen after rest and self-treatment

If you have any of these problems within a few days of a back injury or the start of back pain, contact your provider.

There are also times when it’s important not to wait, and you should seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms for which you should seek immediate medical care include:

  • Difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels
  • A loss of sensation in your groin area or between your legs
  • Pain following a fall or impact to your back
  • Severe leg pain, weakness, tingling, numbness, or the inability to move
  • Pain that is steadily increasing over several hours
  • Difficulty with your balance or coordination, and
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms can be signs of a more serious condition, so it’s important to contact a provider right away if you experience any of them.