No matter how careful you try to be, you will most likely deal with some type of back pain or injury in your lifetime. Most of those injuries should heal on their own after a few days, but you need to keep an eye out for any signs that serious damage has occurred. If you are experiencing chronic back pain, either constant or just reoccurring, be aware of these common symptoms of more serious conditions.
Throbbing Pain That Radiates Down the Legs
If your pain seems to be radiating from your lower back to your legs, then you might have a condition known as sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of your legs, and an acute injury could compress or irritate that nerve. This condition can also be caused by a degenerative disorder such as lumbar spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. Temporary sciatica usually goes away on its own, but those who regularly develop this condition might need to consider surgery. Create a pain calendar to track how often and how long your sciatic pain lasts so you can effectively communicate your problem to a professional specialist.
Weakness in the Arms or Legs
Following a back injury, you need to keep an eye out for any secondary health complications like weakness in the arms or legs. Your spine protects a wide variety of nerves, and you will notice other issues throughout your body if those nerves become damaged. Weakness in the extremities is typically caused by spinal arthritis or degenerative stenosis. In order to minimize the side effects of those conditions, patients must stay at a healthy weight, stretch regularly, and strengthen the muscles around the spine. If you are experiencing weakness in your extremities, you will want to reach out to a professional immediately to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Sharp Pain in the Buttocks or Legs
When a part of the spinal column shifts to the side and compresses a nerve, it is known as a herniated or slipped disc. Herniated discs can be caused by many different things, and they often produce a variety of unusual side effects ranging from a tingling sensation in the feet to sharp pain in the calves. You will need to head to a neurosurgical practice such as Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates in order to have this serious health condition treated. Physical therapy, exercise, anti-inflammatory drugs, stretching, and chiropractic manipulation are all common treatment options for herniated discs. If left untreated, however, you may experience permanent damage to the nerves near the disc and require surgery.
A Fever or Other Flu-Like Symptoms
Patients who develop a fever after a back injury should immediately head to the emergency room. In some rare cases, an acute injury will lead to an infection, and the infection could permanently damage the tissue around the spine if it isn’t treated right away. While some patients notice flu-like symptoms within a few days, you might not develop a fever until two or three weeks after your back injury. Be aware of any acute or localized pain from your back during this time. Watch for redness or swelling along the spine, as well. Infections can easily be treated with antibiotics, but as mentioned, become incredibly serious very quickly if not addressed.
When it comes to your spine, you must always err on the side of caution. A major back problem is going to bring your life to a grinding halt, and you might end up doing long-term damage to your spine if you don’t address the injury right away. Your spine is the center of your autonomic nervous system, influencing your breathing, your heart rate, your muscle movements, your sense of touch and pain, and your immune system. Your quality of life is greatly dependent upon the health of your back, so it is important that you take care of it.