Back pain can be excruciating, even debilitating. It can disrupt your life and make it difficult or even impossible for you to work, or enjoy your free time as you’d like. Most of the time, though, back pain is not a medical emergency.
If you have low back pain that is causing you to miss important events or is limiting your ability to do the things you need and want to do, Dr. Anna Lee at Bergen Pain and Rehab can help. The innovative, effective treatment of automated intramuscular stimulation therapy (A-IMS) has helped thousands of people with back pain.
But, if your back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, please seek medical help immediately.
Losing control of your bladder or bowels
If you are barely making it to the restroom or you aren’t quite making it, and your back hurts, you should get help right away. Loss of bowel or bladder control could indicate nerve damage.
If you’re experiencing back pain along with loss of bowel or bladder control, you may have a rare condition called cauda equina syndrome. This condition involves the nerves at the base of your spine.
Additional symptoms include:
- Progressive weakness or odd sensation in your legs and feet
- Loss of sensation or unusual sensation in the parts of your body that would be in contact with a saddle — inner thighs, between your legs, buttocks, the backs of your legs
- Pain or numbness in one or both of your legs that interferes with walking
Your symptoms may develop slowly, but if you reach the point where you don’t have control, you’re experiencing an emergency. Without treatment, cauda equina syndrome could cause permanent damage, including the possibility of paralysis.
Neurological symptoms and unexplained weight loss
If you have suddenly lost weight, but you haven’t done anything that could explain why, or if your appetite has changed drastically and you have back pain, you should seek medical attention quickly. Rapid weight loss may indicate cancer.
Similarly, if you have neurological symptoms, such as weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Such symptoms can mean that you have a tumor pressing on the nerves of your spine.
Severe stomach pain and low back pain
It’s unusual for back pain to move to your abdomen, however, problems in your abdomen can sometimes be felt in your back. If you have sudden pain in your back that isn’t due to some injury or trauma, you may have an enlarged abdominal aorta.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm, when the large aorta in your abdomen is enlarged and can rupture, is a serious emergency condition. If you have pain in both your back and your abdomen, seek help immediately.
Fever and increased pain that doesn’t respond to medication
If your back pain is accompanied by a fever, and fever-reducing medications don’t work, you may have a systemic infection. Such infections can happen if your immune system is compromised or if you’ve had surgery.
If you have to work to lift your foot to keep it from dragging when you walk, or if it does drag, you may have an issue called foot drop. Foot drop is sometimes a symptom of a larger nerve issue. When it happens with back pain, you may have a problem such as a herniated disc or other problem that involves the nerves in your back.
Regardless of the cause of your pain, Dr. Lee works to find the underlying cause and alleviate the pain. If you’re ready to explore the cause of your pain, book an appointment online or by phone at Bergen Pain and Rehab today.