Because back pain is so common, most people have a tendency to opt for a little rest, over-the-counter medications, or tried-and-true home remedies when they experience it. Muscle strain is a common source of spine-related aches and pains that often goes away within a fairly short time. Still, the spine is a complex structure, which means there are many potential sources of the symptoms you may be experiencing, and it’s not always easy to decide when it’s time to seek input from a professional. However, there are some kinds of back pain, such as the three discussed below, that definitely shouldn’t be ignored.
1. Back Pain Accompanied by Fever
A fever is usually a sign of an infection, so you’ll want to seek medical assistance ASAP to find out what the source of your infection is. Infections in the spine can be especially serious, since the spinal cord and brain may be affected. Back pain accompanied by fever could also be related to an epidural abscess, which produces symptoms that could include:
- Fever and headaches
- A general lack of energy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unusual sensations throughout your body
- Difficulty walking or paralysis
Most instances of back pain with fever can be treated with medication, usually antibiotics. With an epidural abscess, there may be a need to drain the fluid with a needle.
2. Lower Back Pain with Loss of Bladder Control
Lumbar (lower) back pain is a fairly common complaint, but it can become serious enough to require immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing an inability to control your bladder functions or bowel movements. This type of pain is usually a sign that a bladder nerve is being compressed, possibly by a damaged disc or vertebra or a spinal growth, and treatment may require medical intervention such as artificial disc replacement surgery. Santa Monica residents should be aware that if not treated, a loss of bladder control or function could contribute to the following problems:
- Kidney damage
- Permanent bladder damage
- Chronic or severe urinary tract infections
3. Back Pain with Radiating Symptoms
Spine-related pain that includes radiating symptoms is typically a sign of nerve compression. “Radiating” pain refers to discomfort felt away from the source along the nerve’s path. A common example of this type of back pain is what may be experienced if the sciatic nerve that originates in lower back is irritated, causing pain extending from the lower back into the buttocks, thighs, and legs.
Radiating pain, especially in the lower body, may also cause you to compensate by adjusting your walking patterns. However, if you habitually do this, you may put too much stress on other parts of your body, and you could end up with entirely new problems, such as:
- Hip joint pain
- Damage to your knees from the displacement of your weight
- Ankle and foot issues
- Muscle irritation if radiating pain causes you to change your posture when you sit
Even if you don’t have the three kinds of back pain mentioned above, it’s a good idea to see your doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon if you have spine-related discomfort that’s either getting progressively worse or not going away after several months. Knowing the actual source of your back pain is also the most effective way to determine how to best treat or manage it, so reach out to the pioneering spinal specialists at The Spine Institute. We use the most innovative methods to diagnose and treat all types of back pain. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.