We’ve all felt it. That sudden twinge when you reach for something in a high cupboard, or that ache you feel no matter which way you lay down to rest. Back pain impacts millions of people every year, causing individuals to take over-the-counter painkillers and hope for quick relief.
Back pain is common, and often, it is not serious. If you haven’t experienced an injury, then your back pain may be a temporary discomfort that will go away with better shoes or a new mattress. However, in some cases, back pain indicates a more serious problem that needs to be examined by a medical professional.
It can be difficult to determine whether back discomfort is a fluke or cause for concern. If you experience the following symptoms or scenarios, it might be time contact a doctor or chiropractor about your back pain:
1. You’re Having Trouble Sleeping
Though back pain that disrupts your sleep habits is generally not life-threatening, lack of sleep itself can impact other areas of your health. Inability to rest can make you more prone to illness, and increased exhaustion or stress in general lowers your quality of life. If you’re experiencing persistent back pain when you try to sleep, your symptoms could have a number of causes, from scoliosis to meningitis. Schedule a doctor’s appointment to get nighttime back pain relief, and better sleep.
2. Your Daily Activities Have Been Interrupted
Back pain can disrupt job performance across any industry. While waiters or physical laborers will certainly be impacted by back pain, if you work at a computer, or if you’re one of the 5.9 million commercial drivers in the U.S., sitting with back pain can make your workday downright torturous. Don’t wait until your pain is so severe you need to take sick leave. If your back pain is significant enough to disrupt your daily work activities, schedule an appointment.
3. You’re Also Experiencing Numb Legs or Weakness
Pain, tingling, weakness, or numbness that travels down the legs or arms, called sciatica, often accompanies back pain when there’s problematic pressure on the spinal nerve root. This pressure, called radiulopathy, can be caused by a herniated disc or a bone spur. If you have these symptoms, head to a doctor. Your symptoms might require surgery to prevent further nerve damage, so don’t wait to schedule an appointment.
4. Your Symptoms Have Lasted Over Three Weeks
If your back pain has lasted long enough to disrupt your lifestyle over the course of a few weeks, it might be time to head to a chiropractor. You could have one of a number of chronic pain conditions which impact more than 1.5 billion people worldwide. While chronic conditions can’t always be cured, your doctor will suggest pain management strategies. Non-curative therapies can still be very effective– massage alone reduced pain for 92% of patients.
If you’re experiencing back pain, know the signs that indicate serious conditions. When back pain disrupts your daily life or persists for several weeks, take action to protect your health, and schedule a doctor’s appointment.