Patient Stories: Is It Serious? When Should I See a Doctor?

February 11, 2013

Recently, a friend of mine fell on the ice while walking to his car. After he got up, his lower back was painful. And the pain intensified when he tried to walk. So he couldn’t help but wonder if he should go to see his doctor. If you have a similar experience, you probably wonder the same thing. Is the back pain serious? Should I go to see a doctor?

A quick self assessment may be able to help you make a decision. Ask yourself, how severe is the pain? If the pain is unbearable, seek medical attention immediately, because chances are the fall has caused injury to your spine. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are critical for successful back pain treatment. So if the pain is too much for you to manage, call your doctor or 911 immediately so you can get the medical care you need.

You should also seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following.

  • You cannot walk or move part of your body.
  • Your lower back pain extends to one or both of your legs.
  • You experience weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arm or leg.
  • Your back pain worsens or does not improve after a couple days of self treatment, including rest and anti-inflammatory medication.

When in doubt, call your doctor for a consultation. If your doctor declares nothing is serious, you at least get peace of mind. If your doctor is concerned about your condition, he can order a test, make a diagnosis, and help you start a timely treatment.