Most of us occasionally hurt our back
through heavy lifting, pulling, or straining ourselves through activities that our bodies are not equipped to handle. Some activities may be fun and relatively harmless, like bowling, but the wrong angle of rolling a ball down the lane could twist or hurt part of a person's back. Thankfully, most back pain clears up within a day or two on its own or with at-home treatment, like over-the-counter pain medication, cold compresses, or heating pads. However, sometimes we injure our back more than we realize, which may lead to serious back problems that become progressively more painful and harder to deal with. Here are three things to watch for that may indicate severe back problems.
Unusual or Persistent Discomfort
If you are experiencing difficulty in sitting comfortably, or are unable to comfortably lay on your back due to unusual discomfort, you may have major back problems. The pain may manifest on one side of your back, both, or the upper or lower part of your spine. Or it might be felt generally all over. If the pain cannot be effectively managed with home remedies within a day or two, then it's probably time to go to the ER or a local urgent care center for a detailed medical evaluation.
Sometimes back pain can radiate down a person's leg, making it difficult to walk steadily or at all. The difficulty may be experienced as pain, although for some people it feels like more of a numb or tingling sensation. If you have injured your back lately or suspect you may have some problems with it, and you are having difficulty walking, it's important to stay off your feet for a couple of days to give the damaged area a chance to heal. Then see a doctor for follow up, as muscles and nerves may be involved, or perhaps discs in the back, any of which may require prompt treatment.
Other Body Areas Affected
Serious back problems may affect other parts of the body. For example, pain, numbness, or tingling may be felt in the back of the neck area. Sometimes these sensations will travel down one or both arms. In addition, a person may experience difficulty with vision or hearing, or perhaps start having unusual headaches. Any changes to physical function following a suspected back injury should be reported to the doctor.
A person's back is literally the unifying framework of the human torso and limbs. When the back is injured, it can affect other parts of the body and a person's ability to function, and may require treatment like physical therapy. If the pain will not subside following a suspected back injury, or you are having other related symptoms, don't try to manage the problem on your own. Contact a doctor to find out more about your back issue and have it treated before it becomes even more serious, leading to ongoing discomfort and possibly missed work.