That flare up of back pain has happened again! Back pain is often a natural consequence of a related bodily injury or from factors like poor sleeping posture and arthritis.

When should I seek help for back pain?

A little discomfort that feels manageable can easily be treated with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, rest, and light stretching. However if your pain doesn’t respond to at-home treatments, it’s time to visit your health care provider. We’ve put together a common list of signs and symptoms of more serious back pain to help determine when it’s time to consult a physician.

  • Pain lasting several weeks – Combinations of adequate rest and over-the-counter pain medications often help ease back pain. Pain that lingers after rest and medication could be an indication to consult your physician.
  • Pain in other areas – If you’re experiencing pain in other areas of the body as a result of your back pain, it may mean nerves are affected. For example, pain in your abdomen, chest, or legs may be signs of more serious injury. A physician can help diagnose the issue and recommend treatment.
  • Pain after an accident – Even minor accidents can cause issues that can be easily ignored or overlooked after your pain has resolved. If you’re experiencing back pain following any kind of accident, it’s best to consult a doctor to ensure any issues don’t progress.
  • Numbness or tingling – If you’re experiencing back pain and numbness or tingling, it may be a sign of nerve irritation or damage. This should not be ignored as it could lead to more serious complications.
  • Pain when breathing – Upper back pain when breathing is often a sign of strained or injured muscles. However, more serious causes are possible. When symptoms like this follow an injury, it’s best to consult a physician to assess the extent of the injury.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms or issues related to your back pain, it’s appropriate to visit your primary care physicians. If timely appointments are not available, prompt evaluation can be provided by urgent care. More serious symptoms include:

  • Loss of sensation in the legs and groin area
  • Inability to walk or stand
  • Incontinence
  • Intolerable pain
  • Other significant forms of pain following severe trauma

Need to see a physician?

To find a Patient First Urgent Care Center nearest you, visit our locations page. Every Patient First center has a team of physicians ready to help get you back on your feet. For more information on other injuries we treat, read our list of treatable injuries.


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