When to see a doctor for back pain

Photo of clouds illustrates the positive impact of utilizing treatments prescribed by Dr. John Sarno to reduce chronic pain.

While most instances of back pain may resolve without medical intervention, there are situations where medical attention is necessary.

Bed rest is not recommended for back pain, and over-the-counter pain medications can often alleviate symptoms. Additionally, applying heat or cold to the affected area may also provide relief.

Schedule office visit

If you are experiencing back pain and your symptoms persist for a week or more despite attempts at home treatment, you should consider scheduling an office visit with a health professional.

This is especially true if your back pain is constant or severe, especially at night or when lying down, spreads down one or both legs, and particularly if it extends below the knee).

Also see a health professional if pain causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs, or occurs with unintended weight loss, swelling, or redness on the back.

Seek emergency medical care

In some cases, emergency medical care may be necessary.

You should seek emergency medical help or have someone drive you to an emergency room if your back pain occurs after a trauma, such as a car crash, bad fall, or sports injury, causes new bowel or bladder control problems, or occurs with a fever.

It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention in these cases to prevent further complications and potential permanent damage.