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Is your pain worth a trip to the doctor?

It can be a panic-inducing scenario: pain in your back, causing you to feel incapacitated – maybe even helpless. The sudden pain came out of nowhere and you’re worried it could be something very serious. Your first reaction might be to panic. Some might jump to conclusions and fear the worst about the pain. However, most pain is benign – except for the fact that it puts you in extreme discomfort and disrupts your routine. There isn’t always need to stress about the pain, and, as we know, stress actually can make the pain worse instead of better. When should you visit your doctor for pain?

Sudden or acute back pain can be scary and uncomfortable, but often times, does not signal a major medical issue. This type of pain is often categorized as “acute”. Acute back pain starts quickly and lasts less than 6 weeks. It is often the result of improperly lifting heavy objects, having muscles that are too tight or a minor sports strain.  This type of back pain often goes away on its own and is easily treated with pain medication or cold/hot packs. If you do become afflicted with acute back pain, you may want to rest for just a few days. Don’t overexert yourself, at first. But, properly stretching and staying active can help the pain resolve after just a few days. The severity of the pain is not necessarily an indication of the severity of the condition. Therefore, you likely will not need to see a doctor if you have acute pain.

Acute pain, while severe, may not require a visit to your doctor. But, you should consider making an appointment if the pain is a direct result of a traumatic accident such as falling, trauma from a sports accident or auto accident. This could indicate a more severe injury that should be medically treated and monitored. What other signs and symptoms should lead you to seek medical treatment?

  1. If the pain is constant and continues to worsen rather than improve
  2. If the pain is accompanied by numbness or tingling in the extremities
  3. If you have a fever, which could signal an internal infection
  4. If the pain worsens at night
  5. If you begin to lose weight without trying
  6. If you see blood in your urine and the pain is one-sided
  7. If you notice redness and swelling near the pain
  8. If you also have abdominal pain

You’ll want to call your doctor or even visit the emergency room if any of the above items accompany your back pain.

A visit to the doctor can be a traumatic and stressful event in itself. While back pain might seem scary, that’s not always the case. There are certainly times you should visit your physician when you are suffering from back pain, including the list above.  But, not every instance of pain requires medical attention. While you might find this helpful, it is best to listen to your body. If you feel like something is not quite right, you can get peace of mind by visiting your doctor. They will be able to help identify any additional maladies and create a treatment path to get you back to being pain-free!

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