Back pain is one of the most common complaints that patients will seek out relief for in an urgent care or other medical facility. While most back pain is temporary and caused by over-use, strain or work/sport related activity, in some cases, it can be an indicator of a more severe condition.
Knowing when to have back pain evaluated and treated is often indicated by the location or duration of pain and other symptoms; especially if there is any loss of motor function. If back pain is a result of an accident (like an auto accident or fall), prompt evaluation should always be sought out.
Common symptoms of normal back pain related to over-use or strain can include:
- persistent aching or stiffness at any point along the spine from the neck to the tailbone;
- sharp, localized pain that may occur after lifting heavy objects or overexerting oneself during sports activities; or
- a chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially following long periods of sitting or standing.
What to try at home:
- Lying in a comfortable position (especially for lower back pain- this may include lying flat or in a fetal position)
- Over the counter anti-inflammatory/ pain relief medication
- Avoiding strenuous activity – especially lifting, twisting, bending.
- Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes
- Sitting properly, with feet flat on the floor
When to seek medical care:
- Severe pain
- Any loss of feeling/ loss of motor function
- If pain is due to a fall, accident or injury, or accompanied by loss of consciousness
- Any loss of bladder control
- Any numbness, tingling or weakness
- Uncontrolled/ unresolved pain after 72 hours