When should you see a doctor immediately for your back pain?

When should you see a doctor immediately for your back pain? If you have acute back pain that has gradually ramped up in pain or it has come on suddenly, you may be wondering if you should give it time to get better on its own , or if you should try to see a doctor immediately. If you suddenly have moderate to severe back pain and it is on the weekend or if your doctor is not available for a same day visit, you may be wondering if you should go to the emergency room to get checked out. Timing may be important in certain injuries, such as spinal cord injuries and stroke. Let's take a look at some things you look out for when considering whether or not to see your primary care doctor, or to go to the emergency room, because of back pain.



In the majority of cases, back pain resolves with time, with or without treatment. In most cases, your back will begin to feel better, by easing off on some of the activities that caused the back pain, or with some simple so-it-yourself treatments available to you that are cheap and expensive. Examples of simple do-it-yourself treatments include back pain exercises, icing, and inversion therapy that you can do at home. Icing if the area that is sore or has inflammation is cheap and one of the most effective way to self-treat your back pain. To ice your back, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables available in your refrigerator, buy a bag of ice from your grocery store, or wrap some ice cubes in a towel.

More than 90% of cases of acute back pain will resolve on their own, without any medical intervention. However, there are some symptoms that may go along with back pain that may signal the possibility of a serious problem that requires medical attention. Signs of neurologic deficits that radiate down the arms and legs are some of symptoms that may signal a serious problem. It's the most appropriate to see a physician immediately, or to go to the emergency room after a serious injury or fall, if you don't experience any relief while lying down or is accompanied by one of the following:
  • When urinating becomes uncomfortable, difficult or painful.
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fever
  • Numbness, pain, or weakness in one or both legs (this can be indicative of cauda equine syndrome or a herniated disc)
People who have experienced severe back pain for the first time, or has had their back go out on them for the first time, may become very scared when they experience a back injury for the first time. A patient may experience sudden back pain as a result of a traumatic event, such as a fall or accident, or it may come on suddenly for no apparent reason. Patients who experience moderate to severe back pain should go to the emergency room immediately. Patients who have moderate to severe back pain with a history or cancers or infections should seek immediate medical attention.