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Back Problems and Injuries - Check Your Symptoms

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.
    After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
  • You have signs of a severe spinal injury. These may include:
    • Loss of bowel or bladder control (not being able to hold your urine or bowel movements).
    • Weakness in the legs.
    • Numbness or tingling in the rectal area, genital area, or legs.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe back pain that is not from any known injury.
  • You have severe back pain at night that will not go away.
  • You are not able to urinate.
  • You have back pain and:
    • You have injured your back while lifting or doing some other activity. If the pain is severe, has not gone away after 1 or 2 days, and you cannot do your normal daily activities, call your doctor.
    • You have had a back injury before that needed treatment.
    • Your pain has lasted longer than 4 weeks.
    • You have had weight loss you cannot explain.
    • You are age 50 or older.
    • You have cancer now or have had it before.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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