Everyone gets the occasional tweaked back or dull lower back pain. But if you’re experiencing more frequent and more painful back issues as time goes on, this could signal a more serious problem. 

From a sudden spike in discomfort, numbness or weakness, to loss of bladder function and high fever, here are some signs that your back pain needs immediate attention. 

Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain

First off, let’s discuss the differences between the two types of back pain. Acute pain is basically a short-term pain that usually has an identifiable source, such as strenuous exercise or an awkward movement. It usually heals within a few weeks without treatment and you can get back to your normal routine. 

Chronic pain is a long-term pain. It too can be triggered by an injury, but usually an underlying condition is the root cause. Chronic pain is serious in that symptoms are typically strong enough to affect your overall health, quality of life and mobility for extended periods of time. Chronic pain can come on suddenly, to be sure, but usually it will build gradually and last more than a couple of months.

Adding to the complexity is the fact that chronic back pain may be recurrent, which means it can go away and then come back – over and over again. Overall, chronic back pain is serious and should be evaluated by a doctor. The cause could be a degenerative or slipped disc from an accident, or it could be attributable to a condition such as spinal stenosis.

But there are other times when back pain is an emergency that can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment.

When Back Pain Becomes an Emergency

When back pain is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to be seen right away. Here are some of the symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Sudden spike in discomfort, pain, weakness or numbness
  • High fever
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Pain resulting from a fall or blow to the back
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Pain that spreads down one or both legs, especially below the knee 
  • Severe pain that does not improve with rest

Once you receive emergency care for the situation at hand, it’s important to make an appointment with a back specialist who can discuss causes, treatments and options for managing the pain going forward.

Contact Summit Spine and Joint Centers for Back Pain Treatment

Whether the cause of your serious back pain is a result of a muscle strain or a bulging disc, contact the back specialists at Summit Spine and Joint Centers right away.  Call us at 770-962-3642 and make an appointment to visit one our 23 pain centers including our featured new location for Pain Management in Athens, GA.  We utilize state-of-the-art techniques to restore function and improve your overall quality of life.