The lower back is one of the most prevalent areas to experience discomfort. Lower back pain can stem from a range of factors, including poor posture, sleeping habits, physical exertion, obesity, or health concerns, such as spinal stenosis. Whereas rest, posture correction, and exercise can often alleviate lower back pain Northern Virginia, there are instances when a doctor’s evaluation is necessary. Understanding the warning signs that indicate it is time to consult a doctor can help avoid more damage or continuous pain. Read on to learn more.
1. Nighttime Pain
For some individuals, lying down in bed makes their back discomfort worse. In fact, some people do not even have back pain till they go to sleep.
While nighttime lower back pain could result from common conditions, such as scoliosis or a sprain, it could be because of something severe like nerve compression, spinal tumor, fracture, or infection. Any issue that keeps you from sleeping soundly requires a doctor’s examination.
2. Weakness, Tingling, or Numbness
Experiencing weakness, numbness, or tingling in your lower back is another key indicator that you should contact a professional. These sensations might indicate nerve compression or damage, stemming from disorders like spinal stenosis or herniated discs.
If these sensations persist, and cannot be relieved by over-the-counter pain medications, they might signal an emergency. Otherwise, you risk permanent damage.
3. Chronic, Severe Pain
If you have been living with lower back pain for over a week, you should see a specialist. Your doctor can offer treatment to manage the pain, and keep the discomfort from worsening.
Likewise, you need a professional diagnosis if you suffer from intense back pain that sometimes radiates down your leg. You might have sciatica or a damaged disc that requires immediate care.
4. Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexpected weight loss, coupled with back pain, could signify something more serious. For instance, back pain and weight loss are both warning signs of endocarditis and cancer. Endocarditis is a life-threatening condition caused by the swelling of the heart’s inner lining.
Although rare in persons with healthy hearts, should endocarditis occur, it warrants emergency care. The same applies when spinal tumors are responsible for lower back pain.
5. Bladder or Bowel Control Problems
Serious lower back pain, accompanied by incontinence, could indicate a rare, but dangerous condition known as cauda equina syndrome. This condition occurs once nerve roots at the end of your spinal cord become compressed, affecting sensory and motor functioning.
Cauda equina syndrome may stem from a large herniated disc located in the lumbar region. Other potential causes include a spinal lesion, tumor, infection, or severe trauma. Left untreated, this condition can result in permanent paralysis.
Fever, although not directly connected to lower back pain, could be alarming if it is accompanied by back pain. In most cases, this problem means that there is an infection.
Common spinal infections to watch out for include meningitis, spinal epidural abscesses, and vertebral osteomyelitis.
Nobody should have to live with lower back pain, especially if it affects your day-to-day life. Even if you do not experience any of the abovementioned symptoms, if routine tasks like walking, or bending become painful or uncomfortable, you should see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will probably recommend pain relievers, but they can also address the underlying cause of your pain, be it a pinched sciatic nerve, bulging disc, or other lower back problem.