Is your back pain a medical emergency?

May 30, 2018

Is your back pain a medical emergency?

Does your back hurt, ache or prevent you from performing your normal daily routine? Most of the time back pain will resolve itself with time. Seeing a chiropractor has also been known to help.

While it is very uncommon for back pain to be a symptom of a medical emergency, it sometimes can be... If you are also experiencing any of the following symptoms you should seek medical attention right away:

Loss of bowel and/or bladder control paired with leg weakness that appears to be getting worse.

Seek medical care urgently if you have experienced sudden loss of bowel or bladder control and feel numbness in the hip, crotch, groin and or legs. These are classic symptoms that are usually caused by compression of the entire never sac in your lower spine. This is often referred to as cauda equina syndrome.

Neurological impairment coupled with extreme weight loss.

As adults we often weigh generally the same weight for months at a time. This is especially true if we do not exercise more or change our diets. Seek medical attention if you experience sudden onset of weight loss for no apparent reason and have lost your appetite, even for your favorite foods. Unexpected weight loss would be characterized as 5 or more pounds of weight loss for a few consistent weeks in a row. Unfortunately, these symptoms could be from something serious, such as a tumor or cancer.

Severe stomach pain accompanied with the inability to stand up straight.
Back pain rarely will migrate to the stomach. Most of the time it will stay localized to the lower back and extremities affected by the nerves aligned with the spine. When lower back pain does not follow an injury or trauma, this symptom can be a result of an enlarged aorta in the abdomen. This is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.


Fever that does not respond to fever reducers or increases following taking a fever reducer.

Fevers can indicate infections in the body. Although rare, spinal infections can lead to an epidural abscess which is a pus filled areas in the epidural areas. The pressure on the nerves can impair your gross motor functions and can result in paralysis.