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What to expect: The first thing your doctor must do is figure out the underlying cause of the foot drop. For example, if your doctor suspects a herniated disc, she may suggest treatments such as physical therapy and steroid injections.   


Night Pain

All is fine during the day, but as soon as your head hits the pillow your back starts to hurt, making sleep near impossible. Sound like you? “Pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night can be the sign of disc degeneration or a sprain, or something more serious like cancer or a tumor,” says Sinett. Bottom line: Night time back pain shouldn’t be ignored. Make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.

What to expect: Your primary care doctor may order tests like blood work or an MRI to check for infection or tumor.   


Unexplained Weight Loss

When you have unexpected and unexplained weight loss, your doctor may want to rule out infection and tumors as possible causes for your back pain.  

What to expect: Your primary care doctor may order tests such as blood work or an MRI to check for infection or tumor. If these tests are negative, you may be given pain medication and other tests may be performed to see if there is another underlying cause for your weight loss. You may also receive pain medication and physical therapy for your back pain.  


Prolonged Pain (6+ weeks)

Because 90% of back pain cases get better within six weeks, your doctor will want to investigate more serious underlying causes if your pain is still severe after that much time passes.

What to expect: After an evaluation of your symptoms and a physical exam, your primary care doctor may order blood work and imaging tests to help determine a diagnosis.


Advanced Age

When you're over 70, there's an increased risk for infection, tumors, and abdominal causes of back pain.

What to expect: Your doctor may perform diagnostic tests including blood work and imaging to rule out underlying causes of your pain.

Back Pain Poll

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Every Day with Back Pain

Manage everyday activities without making your back pain worse.
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WebMD Video Series

Click here to wach video: Low Back Pain and Your Posture

What role does posture play in your chronic back pain — and what can you do about it?