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The Dangers of Ignoring Your Back Pain

Authored by Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS. September 8, 2020

Many Americans are struggling to navigate through this pandemic, whether alone or with their families. We are all dealing with uncertain times and we are also feeling the stressors of the world along with you. While we’re trying to dodge the major health risk right in front of us – Coronavirus – we also can’t be complacent and allow other health problems to sneak up on us including neck or back pain.  

One of the reasons you may find yourself putting your spinal condition on the back burner is because of myths about spinal treatment. But the reality is that those are old school facts and figures. The field of spinal healthcare has advanced tremendously in the last decade to provide patients with simpler, yet effective treatment for back and neck pain. The past myths about spine care being dangerous and unsuccessful do not apply today, but many people are still more afraid of a diagnosis than the extensive pain they feel every day. We have the technology and doctors to heal and treat your pain, but the longer you wait, the more dangers the pain may impose on your overall health. 

In order to address your back or neck pain in a timely manner it is also important to understand the dangers of waiting, or delaying care.

4 Signs You Should Not Ignore:

  1. Pain with fever
    If your back pain is not isolated and starts to trigger a fever, call your doctor. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies a fever as a temperature around 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more. A fever could signal that your body is fighting against harmful infections or more serious complications as a result of your back pain, so seeing your doctor as soon as possible is important. 
  2. Pain with loss of bladder control
    If your back or neck pain is accompanied by loss of bladder control, it’s time to seek the medical advice of a spine specialist. Incontinence can be the sign of more serious conditions, and it’s important to discuss this with your spine surgeon.
  3. Weakness in legs/feet or tingling
    Some of the more common symptoms that accompany back or neck pain are numbness and tingling in the legs or feet. This could signal a pinched nerve or a herniated disc which, if not treated properly, can lead to severe pain and loss of sensation. The good news is that with a proper diagnosis, this pain and numbness can be treated nonoperatively 90% of the time. The key in a successful, fast recovery is getting to the root of the pain with your spine specialist as soon as you notice the numbness or tingling.
  4. Pain that lasts longer than 10 days
    Many of us encounter day-to-day, brief back pain and shrug it off as soreness. That may be true for some, but if your pain lasts longer than 10 days, it needs to be taken seriously. Pain that sustains for this amount of time should be evaluated by a spine specialist in order to get to the root issue and the appropriate treatment.

While it may be daunting to seek out a diagnosis from your spine specialist, patients are often relieved to learn the root cause of their pain and can confidently work through treatment. Navigating through this pandemic has not been easy, but we are here for you because your pain matters, and we know that you should not have to live with debilitating pain. Our practice has safely remained open and our team is available to care for patients in pain. 

I’d like to share with you a real story from a patient experience during the height of the pandemic that illustrates the importance of being proactive with your spinal condition. 

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a nurse named Christine came to see me after suffering from debilitating back pain that left her crawling through her house and in tears. But Christine’s situation could not wait. Christine suffered from disc degeneration, a pinched sciatic nerve, and arthritis. She was previously under the care of another physician that did not help her achieve the pain relief she was seeking. Then Christine found Virginia Spine Institute, and we expedited her treatment to prevent her from potential long-term pain and damage that was impacting her quality of life. Read more about her story and how she went from the longest, most painful days to an improved quality of life, even during the pandemic.

About The Author

Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS

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