We see a number of patients who have been suffering from chronic back pain for years. Some of them went to a doctor and were told to try conservative treatments at home, and when they didn’t work, they just assumed the doctors wouldn’t be able to help them anymore. Other are worried about treating the symptoms instead of the root cause of the issue and are wary about a dependency on painkillers. And others decide to simply tough out their back pain until they can’t tough it out any longer and they decide that they really do need help. Whatever brings them into our office, we’re always glad to see them because we know that the International Spine Institute can help them find the answers that they need to relieve their pain and get back their quality of life.

The toughest thing to know as a patient, though, is when to call us. When is back pain just back pain and when is it something more serious that requires the care of a doctor? The International Spine Institute is here to help you understand what symptoms indicate that you might need the help of a spine specialist, and which ones mean you are likely to heal on your own.

When Is Back Pain Likely to Go Away on Its Own?

The majority of back and neck aches are probably going to go away on their own. Your body is built to heal itself, so for something like a minor strain or sprain, you should be well equipped to heal without medical intervention. You can try the usual course of conservative treatments, such as:

  • Giving your back a few days of rest.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication until the symptoms subside.
  • Alternating hot and cold on the affected area.
  • Getting a massage that focuses on the area.
  • Doing yoga or other low-impact exercises to strengthen and stretch the back.
  • Wearing back support for a few days.

Pain Back Symptoms That Mean You Need to See a Doctor

You’ve tried conservative treatments with no improvement.

If you try the conservative treatments listed above for a week or more and don’t experience improvement, then it’s time to see a spine specialist. If you’ve been experiencing the back pain for a period of twelve weeks or more, it’s considered to be chronic back pain.

The pain is spreading to your hands, legs, feet, or arms.

A lot of back issues aren’t limited to causing pain in your back. In fact, it’s very common to experience symptoms in your extremities, such as the arms and legs. That’s because the nerves that help you move, touch, and feel with your arms and legs originate in the spine. If something is affecting those nerves in the spine, then the symptoms will manifest in the arms and legs.

You are experiencing numbness, weakness, or tingling in your muscles.

This is another sign that something could be going on in your spine that’s affecting your nerves. The nerves help you move, grasp, and feel; when they aren’t working right, then those functions aren’t going to be working right, either. Keep in mind that problems in the back can manifest symptoms in other areas of the body, so muscle weakness anywhere should be addressed.

The pain is becoming more intense or more constant.

A lot of patients learn to put up with mild pain only for it to become more and more intense over time. Some patients may also find that a back condition that was once only an issue once in awhile is now becoming more and more frequent. These are both signs that the condition could be getting worse. The sooner you address the problem, the sooner an experience back doctor can help you find the treatment options you need to slow, stop, or even reverse the condition in your back that’s causing your pain.

Please Seek Emergency Attention If:

If any of these symptoms are accompanied by a loss of bladder or bowel function and/or a fever, you need to seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.

The Potential Problem of Waiting to See a Doctor For Back Pain

While so many back and neck aches are going to resolve themselves with time and a little extra care, there is a potential drawback to waiting to seek medical care for your back pain. If you choose to wait, you may run the risk of allowing a medical condition to become worse. That could mean longer treatment times in the future, more invasive procedures, and a longer recovery time. While in most cases it’s a good idea to try conservative treatments first, don’t allow the pain to go on for too long. After a week, if your pain hasn’t gone away or started to subside, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor. You don’t have to live with pain and there are many effective treatment options out there.

Our Doctors May Be Able to Help

If you have been living with back pain for a while, have been unable to get an accurate diagnosis from other doctors, or aren’t finding relief from conservative treatment options, then we’d love to see you in our Baton Rouge office. The international Spine Institute offers free MRI reviews to new patients. This allows us to meet with you, review your symptoms and scans, and tell you more about how we may be able to help you find relief from your back pain. We’ve worked with thousands of patients over the years and understand how difficult it can be to get an accurate diagnosis for back and neck pain. That’s why we go through a comprehensive diagnostic procedure to help pinpoint the cause of your pain, and then work with you on a care and treatment plan that we believe offers you the best chance of relief.

If you are tired of living with pain, get in touch with our team to schedule your free consultation appointment. You can reach out to us by giving us a call or contacting us through our website today.