Nighttime Back Pain
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
- 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.