How to Know When It’s Time to Visit A Doctor for Back Pain

Back Pain

Back pain is not a unique problem and is something that a large majority of the population will, unfortunately, have to deal with at some point. 

Back pain is also the leading cause of job-related disabilities. It is even a heavy primary contributor to missed days of work. In addition, back pain may interfere with daily living or family activities.

According to Doctor Brandon Claflin of Oklahoma, as many as 80 percent of adults will end up experiencing some lower back pain during their lifetime. 

Many incidents can lead to back pain. These events can include:


  • A medical disorder or rampant condition
  • Lifting something that is too heavy or lifting incorrectly
  • A fall
  • A major or minor accident
  • General physiologic changes that happen in a person’s spine as they age


In most cases, lower back pain will go away with time. This healing is especially true if the source of the lower back pain is not something long-lasting like permanent damage.

There is always a risk that the pain a person experiences does not improve, or in the worst cases, it may become more severe with time. When that is the case, it may require immediate medical care, intense treatment plans, or continuous therapy.

Signs Your Lower Back Pain is Serious

Lower back pain can come in many different forms. Whether your back pain is piercing, achey, intermittent, or constant, there are often a lot of worries if it should be a cause for concern. However, an injured person can generally expect this pain to disappear after several days of home treatment.

One example of this is the pain experienced by a pulled-back muscle. This pain is usually intense and constant, especially when applying pressure to the affiliated area. However, this type of pain can usually be expected to go away after several days of home treatment, including the rest of the affected muscle groups.

On the opposite side, examples include lumbar degenerative disc disease. This painful back condition typically surfaces as a moderate dull ache in a person’s back. While not intense initially, this pain will only worsen with time if not treated and requires an appointment with a doctor to ensure proper care and treatment modalities.

A person that is experiencing lower back pain should consider seeing a doctor if they are experiencing any of the following:


  • Limb numbness or tingling
  • High fever
  • A traumatic event such as a car accident, assault, or any other bodily trauma
  • Incontinence
  • Unrelieved pain that affects daily living activities or work


Any unresolved pain is an excellent reason to see a doctor as well. In addition, with new technologies emerging, there is always a good reason to check in and initiate treatment for long-lasting pain problems.

Any pain that does not go away on its own after two to six weeks is an excellent reason to visit a spine specialist to try and resolve the issue. Back pain issues are best resolved at the earliest point possible to ensure pain management is issued correctly.

When to Start Looking Into Medical Attention for Lower Back Pain

Knowing when it is a good idea to go to the doctor and when it is a pain that will go away quickly can be difficult, time-consuming, or require extensive medical tests. However, two general major indicators suggest it is time to visit a doctor.

The first is the time frame of your pain. As mentioned before, if it lasts more than two weeks, you should see a doctor. While this constant pain is not a sign of a severe medical emergency on its own, a doctor can give an accurate diagnosis and start treatment before things possibly get worse.

The second is if a person has any other symptoms, such as the ones mentioned above, accompanying their back pain. Again, these are clear signs to see a doctor immediately.

What Symptoms Associated With Lower Back Pain Require a Doctor’s Visit?

While the other symptoms listed are good indicators that a person should see a doctor if they experience them at a time similar to your lower back pain, there are other more direct symptoms for which anyone should see a doctor. Identifying and describing their symptoms to a doctor helps them arrive at a more accurate diagnosis to tailor a treatment plan better.

Some other symptoms that are worth bringing up with a doctor include:

Increased Pain After Sitting

When a person sits, they put pressure on their discs. After sitting for an extended period, it can cause back pain to worsen. Stretching and walking can ease back pain, but the symptom can quickly return when returning to a sitting position.

Dull Aching Pain

Axial pain or pain that persists in the lower back is usually a dull aching pain instead of burning, sharp, or stinging. This pain can be associated with severe and mild muscle spasms, aches in the pelvis and hip region, and limited mobility.

Pain Improvements When Changing Position

Depending on what the cause of pain is, certain positions may be more comfortable than others. Therefore, telling a doctor what positions hurt and which have minimal pain can help them locate the leading cause of lower back pain.

Pain that Travels Through the Feet, Buttocks, and Legs

Depending on the cause and severity of the pain, lower back pain can include a numb, sharp, trembling, or stinging sensation that travels away from the lower back. This pain can radiate from the thighs to the lower legs and feet. This condition is known as sciatica and is due to sciatic nerve irritation. This symptom can help give a doctor a clear idea of the primary root cause of the pain.

If a person is experiencing any mix of these symptoms or has lower back pain that lasts longer than two weeks, they should seek a healthcare provider equipped to handle whatever their specific needs. Long-lasting back pain that goes untreated could lead to the pain worsening with time and spreading and have unforeseen consequences on mobility and a person’s body as a whole.

Even a dull pain can be a sign of something serious if it’s consistent enough. It’s best to see a doctor before things get worse. Catching an issue early enough can be the difference in fixing a problem rather than just looking for ways to ignore the pain and prevent further damage.

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