Whether you are lifting heavy weights or putting dishes away in your cupboards, you are placing some strain on your back. Most people believe that the cure-all for backaches is a hot pad or a good night’s rest. While that may be true for some minor sprains, you should not be so quick to shrug off mundane back pains.
The Different Types of Pain
Because backaches can vary so much in both length and severity, you should first be familiar with the different types of pain you can experience.
Acute back pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “usually comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific.” Most of the time, acute pain does not linger for more than six months after treatment. Fortunately, for anyone suffering from acute pain, it disappears once the underlying cause is healed. Once it is gone, you can feel confident about moving forward with life as usual.
Pain that persists for longer than six months post-treatment is considered chronic pain. The Cleveland Clinic explains that “pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months or years” post-trauma. And unfortunately, chronic pain can be present in some individuals without having to experience a prior injury or nerve damage. Sometimes, signals simply misfire.
5 Signs You Should Never Ignore
It can be easy to shrug off acute back pain because it will usually go away in a day or two, and chronic back pain because you are either used to it or afraid of incurring medical bills for something that will heal on its own with time. This can make it difficult to determine when you should see a doctor for your discomfort, and when you should just take it easy. Fortunately, Dr. Douglas Dickson, orthopedic surgeon, and physical medicine and rehab doctor, Kavita Trivedi, put together a list of “5 Signs Your Back Pain Might Be an Emergency.” It includes:
- Experiencing sharp, or acute pain. This could suggest a torn muscle or an organ problem, like a kidney infection.
- An ache that travels from the back downward. Any pain that moves towards the glutes or legs or perhaps travels back and forth between a few different places can be a sign of a nerve compression condition.
- Sudden limb weakness. Experiencing limb weakness may be caused by a bulging disc, but is also the earliest sign of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack.
- Inability to control the bowels and/or bladder. Back discomfort accompanied by incontinence can be a sign of dangerous nerve compression or spine infection.
- Numbness or staticky sensation in the groin or glutes. This can be indicative of a nerve or spine condition.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be time for you to start taking your back pain a little more seriously!
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