11 Red Flags For a Serious Back Condition Problem

11 Red Flags For A Serious Back Condition Problem

If you’re experiencing back pain, the good news is that back pain isn’t always a serious concern.

There are many reasons why you could be experiencing back pain, such as because you slept in an uncomfortable position, you have bad posture, or you pulled a muscle during your last gym session.

How common is back pain?

Roughly 80 percent of adults have low back pain at some point, as the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports.

One in five women and one in 10 men will experience upper back pain, as Occupational Medicine reports.

All that is good and well, but it doesn’t mean that your back pain can’t be trying to tell you something, like “Go to the doctor, already!”

So, let’s take a look at 11 red flags that your back condition could actually be a serious problem that you shouldn’t turn your back on.

Your Back Pain Hasn’t Gone Away In Weeks

Woman Holding For Back

As with any pain, time is a consideration.

If you’ve been battling with back pain for the last two weeks and the pain has not subsided, then it’s time to give your doctor a call.

This is especially the case if you’ve tried home remedies such as applying heat to the area in the case of stiffness or ice in the case of inflammation and injury.

Your Back Pain Is Accompanied By Other Symptoms

Sometimes, lower back pain can be a medical emergency.

This is the case if your back pain is accompanied by other troubling symptoms, such as a fever, stomach pain, loss of bowel or bladder control, and leg weakness.

If this occurs, head straight to the emergency room.

Your Back Pain Gets Worse Over Time

The tricky thing about back pain is that if it’s severe it doesn’t always mean that it’s linked to a serious condition.

You might have a dull ache that just doesn’t go away and that can be more serious than experiencing sharp pain.

So, the red flag to look out for is that the pain persists, no matter what type of pain you’re experiencing.

Your Back Pain Shows Signs Of Endometriosis

Illustration Of Endometriosis

If you’re a woman who experiences intense back pain during menstruation, this could point to endometriosis, a condition in which the uterus lining starts to grow outside of the uterus and on other parts of the body, and it can be very painful.

It’s still not understood exactly why endometriosis can result in back pain, but it’s thought to be a result of inflammation and nerve damage.

You’re Taking Lots Of Pain Pills

If you have a sore back and you take pain pills for a few days and it goes away, great.

If you can’t seem to shake the pain even though you’re taking lots of painkillers, that’s a sign you’ll need to see a doctor who will be able to prescribe you medication that will get to the source of your back problem instead of just try to mask its symptoms with OTC drugs.

Your Back Pain Is Accompanied By Tingling

If you have back pain and you’re experiencing tingling or numbness in your legs and arms, this is a reason to call your doctor. You could be dealing with a nerve injury.

You Were In An Accident

Man In Car Accident

If you were in a car accident or you feel at work, you might be able to walk away and feel nothing in your back, only to experience symptoms later.

You might, for example, have whiplash that can cause inflammation and tears in the upper back and neck.

If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

You Have Kidney Stone Symptoms

The thing about kidney stones is that the pain they cause can radiate into the back, which is why you should always pay attention to back pain – specifical pain in the upper back.

However, you’ll likely also have other symptoms if you have kidney stones, such as brown or red urine, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for them.

It Hurts To Breathe

You should never ignore the symptom of finding it difficult or painful to breathe.

This could be a result of a blood clot in your lung which has traveled from a leg or arm. Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with back pain.

Well, back pain that gets worse with a deep breath can be a symptom of blood clots, as The Healthy explains.

Other symptoms to notice include coughing up blood or being short of breath.

You Have Symptoms Of Spinal Stenosis

Illustration of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which spinal discs degenerate, and it’s linked to a disease in the joints of the lower back.

If you experience back pain that moves down your lower extremities when you stand for long periods of time or walk short distances, then you could have a spinal problem that warrants a trip to the doctor.

The Pain Is Worse When You Rest

If you find that your lower back pain is worse when lying down at night, that’s a red flag.

The cause of the back pain could be an infection, cancer, or something like ankylosing spondylitis. This is a type of arthritis that targets the spine.

When Do You Need To See A Back Specialist?

While it’s not always necessary, there are times when seeing a back specialist can do you a world of good and get to the bottom of why you’re experiencing back pain.

Here are two instances in which it’s good to book an appointment with one.

Your Back Pain Is Chronic

Man Holding For Backs

If your pain has stuck around for longer than three months, it’s considered chronic.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need a specialist – unless you have other problems, such as you don’t know what has caused the back pain.

Which brings us to our second point.

The Pain Came Out Of Nowhere

If you remember what you were doing when the back pain began, such as if you were hanging curtains and felt a shooting pain in your lower back, then that points to an injury or strain that will likely clear up within a few days or weeks.

However, if you can’t remember what triggered the back pain, a back specialist will help you find the cause.

In addition, if you experience any of the previously-mentioned back pain symptoms, you should consult with your GP.

Your doctor might think a trip to the back specialist (or another specialist, depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing) is warranted.

Why Chronic Back Pain That Disappears Can Be A Red Flag

Doctor Examing Low Back Pain On Patient

Sometimes it’s good to get your back pain checked out even if it seems to be getting better, and this is especially the case if it was ailing you for a long time.

Although that sounds a bit paranoid, the truth is that chronic pain that goes away could sometimes be a symptom of a deeper problem.

The body has an amazing ability to adapt to pain and it could be that it’s become used to the pain, not that the pain has gone away.

In addition, there could be an underlying condition that is present.

If this health issue doesn’t get treated properly, such as with the use of medication and therapy prescribed by a doctor or back specialist, it will probably get worse.

Even if the pain seems to have gone away, that underlying condition can cause pain to crop up in another area of the body, as Everyday Health points out.

Whenever your back pain is something that interferes with your daily life and is chronic, it’s really a sign that your body’s trying to get your attention!

It’s best to listen to what it’s telling you before your back pain gets worse or the symptoms travel elsewhere in the body.

Related Questions

Is surgery recommended for serious back pain?

Surgery is usually the last resort for back pain if there are structural abnormalities that don’t seem to improve with treatment.

Symptoms of such abnormalities include if there is severe, constant pain, or there’s nerve compression that has weakened the muscles.

What are the common risk factors for back pain?

There are some factors that can put you at greater risk for back pain.

These include not exercising and having a sedentary lifestyle, being older, being overweight, smoking, or having previously been diagnosed with a condition such as arthritis, as Healthline reports. 


While it might not always be something serious, there are times when your lower back pain could point to a condition that you need to sort out ASAP.

So, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed in this article, then it’s time to call your doctor and get to the bottom of your back pain – so you can get on with living your life.

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