Back pain is one of the most common health problems in America: it affects as many at least 75% of people at some point, and is caused by problems ranging from muscle strain to serious conditions such as arthritis or infection.
Since back pain is so ubiquitous, it can be hard to know when to seek medical treatment. In addition, it can be difficult to know whether a symptom needs treatment, or is simply a part of normal aging; or whether an injury can heal on its own without medical intervention. While rest, exercise, or a chiropractor are enough to solve the majority of back problems, you should see a doctor if you have symptoms of chronic back pain, or if your symptoms which go beyond simple back pain.
Chronic back pain has a radiating effect on quality of life which extends far beyond simple discomfort. It is associated with depression, insomnia, and a weakened immune system. Like any chronic condition, it can also reduce your productivity as a worker or even make it impossible for you to perform certain jobs – to say nothing of the effect it has on personal and family life. For these reasons, it is important to seek effective treatment if you have symptoms of a serious back problem.
Signs to Look For
- Pain which persists for several months
- Pain which prevents you from living your day-to-day life
- Pain which extends down the back of the leg
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the legs and arms
- Increase of pain when coughing or bending at the waist
- Increase in pain after sitting or standing for a long period of time
- Fever and/or painful urination
- Pain accompanied by sudden, unexplained weight loss
These symptoms can indicate a variety of medical conditions, including sciatica, arthritis, stenosis, or herniated disc. In very rare cases, back pain may be an indication of infection or cancer. For most people, these issues are not a concern, but those who have a family history of cancer, a weakened immune system, or a history of urinary tract infections should be especially cautious regarding back pain.
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