Low Back Pain: When To See Your Doctor?

The BBC News-Health webpage currently links to the BBC Health site. The title of the link is “Back-pain danger signs, Symptoms to take straight to your doctor”. I followed it, read through the information and found it incomplete. In my opinion, a few things could be added to the list, but before adding anything…it’s important to bear in mind that the vast majority of low back pain is trivial and usually disappears after a couple of days or weeks. In a very small minority of cases the low back pain is a sign of something more serious. You should make an appointment to see your doctor if your back pain is associated with:

  • Significant trauma (such as RTA or a fall)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroids
  • History of cancer
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fevers
  • History or high risk of decreased immune response (AIDS or HIV, recreational drug use, steroid or immunosuppressant use)
  • Unremitting pain (even when lying down)
  • Neurological symptoms (urinary incontinence or retention, fecal incontinence, loss of sensation in the genital region, weakness or loss of sensation in the lower limbs)

Please note that the signs and symptoms listed above don’t automatically mean that something sinister is at hand but simply that further questioning and examination is required. Lastly, remember that the overwhelming majority of low back pain is insignificant…apart from the inconveniencing pain obviously!