Upper and Middle Back Pain - When to Call a Doctor
In most cases, back pain gets better with
home treatment. So unless you have signs of a severe illness, injury, or heart
attack, you can give your back pain some time to work itself out before you
call your doctor.
Call 911 or other emergency services
- Back pain occurs with chest pain or other
symptoms of a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack include:
pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in your chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or
a strange feeling in your back, neck, jaw, upper belly, or one or both
shoulders or arms. See a picture of areas
where symptoms may be felt .
- Feeling dizzy or
fast or uneven heartbeat.
- A person has signs of damage to the
spine after an injury (such as a car accident, fall, or direct blow to the
spine). Signs may include:
- Being unable to move part of the body.
- Severe back or neck pain.
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the
arms, legs, chest, or belly.
Call your doctor
- You have a new loss of
bowel or bladder control.
- You have new numbness
in your legs or numbness in your legs that is getting worse.
- You have
new weakness in your legs or weakness in your legs that is getting worse. (This
could make it hard to stand up.)
- You have new or increased back pain
with fever, painful urination, or other signs of a urinary tract
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own,
you won't need treatment. If you get worse, you and your doctor will decide
what to do next. If your back pain is mild to moderate, it probably will get
better on its own. You can try home treatment to relieve your symptoms. If you
don't feel better in 1 to 2 weeks, call your doctor.
Be sure to call
your doctor right away if you start to have other symptoms or you have:
- Urinary symptoms,
such as pain when you urinate.
- Pain that is getting worse.
that you can't manage at home.
Who to see
Health care professionals who often diagnose the cause of
back pain include:
If your back pain is severe or
long-lasting, health professionals who can treat you include:
You can also
get care from: