When To Seek Medical Advice With Back Pain

So what happens when the doctor who treats patients with back pain then gets back pain…?

when to get help with back painI was power washing my driveway one Saturday morning when I suddenly developed right lower back pain. It was mechanical in nature and stayed that way through the weekend and beyond. I was expecting sciatica symptoms but luckily they did not come.

The only solution was to take regular analgesics, paracetamol and ibuprofen for example and keep moving as much as I could and with the passage of time it would go; hopefully!

Sure enough 3 weeks later and I’m back to normal and it should be of no surprise that this is the case; I don’t smoke and I try to keep fit and 95% of all people who suffer severe back pain episodes will find their symptoms resolve spontaneously as long as they have a positive mind. Keep moving and use simple methods of pain relief such as over-the-counter analgesics and perhaps a visit or two to a physiotherapist for some manipulation and advice.

What happens if things don’t get better? Then it is important to seek medical advice. You should do this immediately if you suffer with any of the following problems in addition to your back pain:

Red Flag Possible Cause
Duration > 6 wk Tumor, infection, rheumatologic disorder
Age < 18 y Congenital defect, tumor, infection, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis
Age > 50 y Tumor, intra-abdominal processes (such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm), infection
Major trauma, or minor trauma in elderly Fracture
Cancer Tumor
Fever, chills, night sweats Tumor, infection
Weight loss Tumor, infection
Injection drug use Infection
Immunocompromised status Infection
Recent genitourinary or gastrointestinal procedure Infection
Night pain Tumor, infection
Unremitting pain, even when supine Tumor, infection, abdominal aortic aneurysm, nephrolithiasis
Pain worsened by coughing, sitting or Valsalva maneuver Herniated disc
Pain radiating below knee Herniated disc or nerve root compression below the L3 nerve root
Incontinence Cauda equina syndrome, spinal cord compression
Saddle anesthesia Cauda equina syndrome, spinal cord compression
Severe or rapidly progressive neurologic deficit Cauda equina syndrome, spinal cord compression


Otherwise keep moving and don't worry. Read about some of the more common causes of back pain here.

Nerve Pain

nerve pain

Back Pain

back pain


pain treatment