Lower back pain is extremely prevalent in the field of sports medicine. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), approximately 80% of people experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. However, not all pain is equal, as it could indicate a much more serious problem in some situations. In this article, we will cover the primary warning signs you should be on the look for.
The warning signs of serious complications
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately, as you may need specialized care:
Fever associated with lower back pain could indicate a spinal infection (e.g., osteomyelitis) that’s affecting the bony structures, which eventually causes osteolysis (i.e., the breakdown of bone), and in some cases, sepsis (i.e., the spread of the infection in the bloodstream). If you experience high-grade fever with back pain, you should consult with your doctor.
Numbness and weakness
Numbness and/or weakness of the lower limbs with back pain is a sign of nerve damage caused by a structural abnormality in the spine. This may be a surgical emergency that requires immediate attention!
Loss of sphincter control
Similar to the sensations of numbness and weakness, the loss of sphincter control that manifests as urinary or bowel incontinence may reveal serious nerve damage to the neurons responsible for controlling the muscles around these sphincters. Receiving the proper care on time could reverse this dysfunction, alleviating the need for extended sessions of physical therapy and eliminating the risk of irreversible loss of sphincter control.
Lower back pain can be a hassle to deal with. Hopefully, this article helped you understand some of the warning signs that require urgent care and the reason behind it.
Here’s to your health!
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Dr. Kevin Crawford
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Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service only, and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance should consult his or her doctor or orthopedic surgeon.