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It often feels like after a certain age, back pain becomes a fact of life. This discomfort doesn’t have to be inevitable: You can keep the aches and pangs at bay with the best stretches and yoga moves to relieve back pain. Unfortunately, because an achy back is seen as so common, many people are quick to dismiss signs that something more serious might be going on. Here are some signs that your back pain is out of the ordinary and should be looked at by a a doctor or a physical therapist:
Back pain that reaches your side/upper abdomen: As AICA Orthopedics explains, although pain in both your back and abdomen at once could be a coincidence, it also could be a sign of a larger underlying condition. If your back pain is radiating around to your front or flank, it could indicate conditions like pancreatitis, appendicitis, or kidney stones. In order to relieve your pain, a proper diagnosis is needed.
Upper back pain that reaches your neck and legs: Neck and back pain often go hand-in-hand, and could be a sign of something as mild as poor posture. On the other hand, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, back pain coming from your neck could be a sign of nerve damage. Other signs of pressure on the spinal nerves include weakness, numbness, or severe shooting pain that travels from the back to the leg.
Pain with “pins and needles”: Similar to the point above, if your back pain is associated any numbness or tingling (that “pins and needles” feeling), then you should get checked out to make sure nothing is wrong with your spinal cord.
Pain with loss of bladder control: According to Healthline, because your back muscles and nerves sit so closely behind your bladder, incontinence and back pain are often linked. If something is wrong with your bladder, you might feel pain in your back; likewise, if something is wrong with your back, you could experience incontinence. This is not something to ignore, since loss of bladder control could indicate a medical emergency like an epidural hematoma or severely herniated disk.
Pain with fevers: A fever may be a sign of something more serious like an infection, David Anderson, a spine surgeon at OrthoCarolina, tells HuffPost. Luckily, Anderson says this is rare, and that the fever and back pain are not necessarily linked. Still, continuous back back associated with a fever flaring up is reason to see a healthcare provider.
Pain that lasts longer than ten days: As a general rule, you don’t want to ignore any kind of pain that lasts longer than ten days—especially if it’s only getting worse. The longer you wait to address the pain, the longer it could take to finally treat it.
It’s been normalized to push through daily back pain, but anything that seems out of the ordinary could be a sign you need medical attention. See a physician if you have numbness or tingling, weakness, loss of bladder control, fever, or pain that shoots from your back to other areas of your body. Don’t wait for your pain to go away on it’s own, or else you could be ignoring a more serious underlying condition.