Occasional back pain caused by too much exertion is nothing to worry about. If it’s relatively mild, it will heal with a bit of rest, medication, ointment, or massage.
But when back pain persists or is so intense that it makes it difficult for you to carry out your normal activities, then it’s time to take action. Lingering back pain – whether it’s local or scattered, mild or severe, indicates a problem that requires medical attention.
When to See a Doctor
Most back pain only lasts a few days and can be simply treated with rest, cold compress (ice wrapped in a towel), and/or common pain relievers such as ibuprofen or Tylenol. However, if these self-treatment remedies fail to relieve your pain, it may warrant a trip to the doctor.
If you’re not sure whether your back pain is a temporary ailment or a symptom of a more serious problem, here are some guidelines on when you should consult a physician such as when the back pain:
- follows a traumatic event, such as after a car accident or a fall
- is constant and is getting worse instead of better
- continues for more than a few weeks
- is severe and doesn’t improve within a few days despite the self-treatment remedies mentioned above
- is accompanied by swelling or redness on your back
- is more intense at night when most back pain tends to lessen due to rest
- is severe enough to keep you awake at night
- is accompanied by abdominal pain
- spreads down one or both of your legs – especially if it extends below your knee
- includes numbness in your upper inner thighs, groin area, buttocks or genital area
- Is accompanied by neurological problems such as weakness, numbness or a tingling sensation in your legs or arms
Any or all of these are signs of possible injury or damage to your back, and should be promptly diagnosed by an orthopedic doctor.
If your back pain occurs after a high-impact car crash or a bad fall, seek immediate medical care by calling 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. Emergency care may also be necessary if your back pain occurs with a fever or causes bowel or bladder control problems.
We Feel – and Heal – Your Pain
Painful joints may not always be avoidable, but they are certainly treatable. If you are experiencing persistent back pain due to an injury, illness, work conditions or any other reason, an orthopedic physician can help. Call Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to find out what can be done to relieve your pain and get you back to doing what you enjoy the most.