To assess whether you need to see a member of the spinal care and surgery team of White Plains Hospital, consider asking yourself the following questions:
Do you have back pain that...
- Causes numbness, weakness, or tingling? Back pain accompanied by a pins-and-needles feeling typically requires evaluation from a medical professional. Numbness, weakness and tingling indicate that the pain is related to nerve irritation or damage, including conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis. If these conditions are left untreated, this could lead to permanent nerve damage and disability. Early diagnosis and treatment can ensure you will regain function and avoid permanent issues.
- Causes bowel or bladder problems, or progressive weakness in your legs? Sudden difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels, or gradual weakness in your legs are both signs that you should seek immediate medical care. These could be signs that you have cauda equina syndrome, caused by compression of nerves in the lower spine. While this condition is rare, individuals suffering from these symptoms should seek prompt medical care, as cauda equina syndrome generally requires emergency back surgery.
- Occurs only at night? Pain that only occurs at night and makes it difficult to sleep is a red flag that should not be ignored. This type of pain could be caused by a wide range of issues, such as disc degeneration, a sprained muscle, or a tumor or growth along the spine. If you have pain that makes it difficult to sleep through the night, you should have your pain evaluated by a specialist that can help you find relief, making it easier to sleep and avoiding further damage.
- Is accompanied by a fever? While a high fever can sometimes cause general aches and pains, a fever accompanied by sudden back or neck pain could be a sign of a serious infection, such as meningitis. If you have a fever over 101℉ that does not respond to medication along with pain in the back or neck, you should be evaluated by a physician immediately to rule out serious infection.
- Lasts longer than 6 weeks? Back pain normally goes away with rest and over-the-counter medications. However, if your pain lasts for longer than six weeks, progressively gets worse, or interferes with your day-to-day life, you may have chronic pain that should be evaluated.