Skip to content

    Back Pain Health Center

    Select An Article

    Nighttime Back Pain

    Font Size

    Can Nocturnal Back Pain Be a Sign of Something Serious?

    Guidelines for discovering serious spinal health problems list a number of "red flags," among them nocturnal back pain.

    Nocturnal back pain can be a symptom of spinal tumors. It could be a primary tumor, one that originates in the spine, or it could be a metastatic tumor, one that results from cancer that started elsewhere in the body and then spread to the spine.

    Nocturnal back pain is also a symptom of spinal bone infection (osteomyelitis) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a condition that can cause the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position.

    Other "red flags" include:

    • Back pain that spreads down one or both legs
    • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in legs
    • New problems with bowel or bladder control
    • Pain or throbbing in your abdomen
    • Fever
    • Spots warm to the touch
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • History of cancer
    • History of a suppressed immune system
    • History of trauma

    If one or more of these symptoms accompanies back pain -- especially if you have a history of cancer -- see your doctor right away. It's also important to call the doctor if your back pain is the result of a recent injury.

    It's important to note that it's rare that nighttime back pain is caused by a tumor, infection, or AS. 

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 21, 2015
    1 | 2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Woman holding lower back
    Or is it another form of back pain?
    Hand on back
    See the myths vs. the facts.
    Woman doing pilates
    Good and bad exercises.
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Use it to manage your pain.
    Man with enhanced spinal column, rear view
    pain in brain and nerves
    Chronic Pain Healtcheck
    Health Check
    break at desk
    Woman holding lower back
    Weight Loss Surgery
    lumbar spine
    back pain