Low Back Pain
When to Call a Doctor
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if:
- Back pain occurs with chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack.
- A person has signs of damage to the
spine after an injury (such as a car
accident, fall, or direct blow to the
spine). Signs may include:
- Being unable to move part of the body.
- Severe back or neck pain.
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new numbness in your legs or numbness in your legs that is getting worse.
- You have new weakness in your legs or weakness in your legs that is getting worse. (This could make it hard to stand up.)
- You lose control of your bladder or bowels.
- You have new or increased back pain with fever, painful urination, or other signs of a urinary tract infection.
- You have long-term back pain that suddenly gets much worse, and you did not cause it by being more active.
- You have a history of cancer or HIV infection, and you have new or increased back pain.
- Pain wakes you from sleep.
For more information, see the topic Reference Back Problems and Injuries.
Most low back pain doesn't require a visit to a doctor.
If the pain doesn't get better after 1 or 2 days and you can't do your normal daily activities, call your doctor.
If you still have mild to moderate pain after at least 2 weeks of home treatment, talk with your doctor. He or she may want to check for problems that may be causing your back pain.
Who to see
The following health professionals can diagnose the cause of back pain, evaluate back injuries, and start treatment.
- Primary care providers:
You may also be referred to one of the following specialists:
- Reference Physiatrist Opens New Window
- Reference Neurosurgeon Opens New Window
- Reference Rheumatologist Opens New Window
- Reference Orthopedic surgeon Opens New Window
- Reference Pain management specialist Opens New Window if low back pain has lasted for more than 3 months
- Reference Cognitive-behavioral therapist Opens New Window
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Reference Making the Most of Your Appointment.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference November 19, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
- Topic Overview
- Health Tools
- What Happens
- What Increases Your Risk
- When to Call a Doctor
- Exams and Tests
- Treatment Overview
- Living With Low Back Pain
- Other Treatment
- Coping With Chronic Back Pain
- Other Places To Get Help
- Related Information