Back problems are common among Americans. In fact, about 80 percent of adults suffer from low back pain at some point. That means the odds are good you’ve had back pain already.
Low back pain is the leading cause of job-related disabilities. Back pain symptoms most often aren’t acute, so you won’t experience a sudden onset of intense pain. Instead, debilitating pain results from a chronic pain condition that wasn’t immediately addressed. And chronic pain sometimes indicates a serious back problem.
When to Be Concerned About Your Back Pain Symptoms
While you may think your pain is something you can put off, especially if it doesn’t dramatically affect your quality of life, the spine medicine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) know better. SSI doctors know all the kinds and causes of back pain. Common back pain symptoms include:
- General achiness in your back
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Pain in one or both of your legs
- Pain that worsens when you bend, stand, walk or lift something
If your pain results from a herniated disc or degenerative disease in your spine, it can be rectified with appropriate treatment. The pain from these conditions isn’t considered a medical emergency. If left untreated, however, they can become more serious. Contact your doctor immediately if you have serious back pain symptoms, such as:
- Bowel or bladder problems caused by back pain
- Back pain coupled with a fever
- Back pain that causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
- Back pain and unusual weight loss
- Urinary incontinence
Complications from Serious Back Problems
Bowel or bladder problems that occur from back pain may be a sign of a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome. This sudden onset of bladder and/or bowel incontinence is a side effect of severe compression of an entire nerve sac in your lower spine. Symptoms include:
- Progressive or severe weakness or different than normal sensations in your legs or feet
- Altered or complete loss of sensation between your legs or in your inner thighs, buttocks, back of your legs or sacral region
- Difficulty walking, stumbling due to pain
- Numbness or weakness in one or both legs
If a fever develops along with your back pain, it may be a sign of multiple serious health issues, including:
- Kidney infection. Kidney infections are often the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI) that wasn’t fully treated or left untreated entirely. The bacteria from the UTI then travels through your ureter to infect one or both kidneys. Early signs are back pain and a high temperature.
- Osteomyelitis. This is an infection of your spinal column most likely caused by an infection after surgery or septicemia, which is a life-threatening infection in your bloodstream.
- Rhabdomyolysis. This rare condition is the death of muscle tissue resulting from strenuous activity. Once your muscles are near failure, toxins are released in your system causing an excessive burden on your kidneys.
A potential reason for unusual weight loss coupled with back pain is renal cell carcinoma or kidney cancer. Symptoms of this disease include unexplained weight loss and pain in the side or back. If you’re experiencing any of these back pain symptoms, contact SSI today to get the treatment you need. It may save your life.