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When should you call your doctor about back pain?

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Call your doctor about back pain if:

  • You feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your groin, arms or legs; this may signal damage to the spinal cord. Seek immediate medical help.
  • The pain in your back extends downward along the back of the leg; you may be suffering from sciatica.
  • The pain increases when you cough or bend forward at the waist; this can be the sign of a herniated disc.
  • The pain is accompanied by fever, burning during urination, or frequent and/or urgent urination. You may have an infection.
  • You begin to have problems controlling your bowels or bladder; seek immediate medical help.

SOURCES: Oh, W. January/February 2004.  The Clinical Journal of Pain,

Friedman, F. Lyons Press, 2004. Outwitting Back Pain: Why Your Lower Back Hurts and How to Make It Stop,

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on July 22, 2017

SOURCES: Oh, W. January/February 2004.  The Clinical Journal of Pain,

Friedman, F. Lyons Press, 2004. Outwitting Back Pain: Why Your Lower Back Hurts and How to Make It Stop,

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on July 22, 2017

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What are warnings that could mean a serious back pain problem?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

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