When is back pain serious and what do I do about it?

when is back pain serious

Back pain is a common part of life. Most of us experience some form of mild back pain after lifting heavy objects or after sitting at a desk all day. In many cases, mild back pain goes away on its own after a little time of rest and home treatment. However, there are some conditions that can cause long-lasting or intense back pain that is more serious and requires professional treatment.

When is back pain serious?

First of all, we want to clarify that by serious, we mean pain that is beyond treatment you can provide for yourself at home. Back pain is rarely life-threatening. There are a few circumstances that you should consider an emergency with your back pain, but most of the time, this isn’t the case.

Common conditions that cause back pain include:

  • Strains — Strains are pulled or torn muscles. The muscles themselves hurt when they are in this condition, and they can also increase stress on your spine that adds to your back pain.
  • Herniated discs — A herniated disc is a disc in your spine that has burst. When a disc bursts, the fluid it contains spreads out of it, surrounding the spinal canal and putting pressure on the nerves that is painful and can cause numbness and tingling.
  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD) — DDD is the natural wear and tear of the discs in your spine that occurs over time. In many cases, people don’t notice the effects of DDD. However, for some, DDD is felt as a painful condition that limits your range of motion.
  • Arthritis — Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation to wear down the cartilage in your joints. This can occur in your spine, which makes it painful to bend or twist your back.
  • Spinal stenosis — Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the spinal canal to grow narrower, which increases pressure on the nerves in your spine. 

Again, while the following incidents are less common, you may need to seek emergency assistance for your back pain if:

  • It’s accompanied by an unresponsive fever — Some back soreness and tightness if you have the seasonal flu is normal. However, if you have a fever that won’t go away and you have persistent back pain, you might have an infection in your spine that requires professional treatment.
  • You have been involved in a physically traumatic incident — A fall from height or a heavy impact, such as in a car accident, can cause a severe injury to the spine that should be addressed right away by a medical professional. Failure to address the symptoms of a sudden spine injury can lead to permanent disability.

Visit Holland Physical Therapy today for back pain treatment

Physical therapists assist people with many types of back pain. At Holland, our physical therapists specialize in treatments that help manage the pain and improve your range of motion. Our team always customizes each treatment routine to the needs of each patient. If you visit us for help with your back pain, you can expect a treatment that includes natural techniques, such as:

  • Gentle exercises and stretches
  • Joint mobilization
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Posture guidance

Contact our team today for more information about treating back pain or to schedule an initial appointment.