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Health Information Back Pain

What’s Your Back Pain Trying to Tell You?

Not every type of back pain requires medical attention; for run-of-the-mill aches and pains, a heating pad and ibuprofen can often do the trick.

Many people, however, suffer from back pain that is more serious or that signals nerve problems. Some back pain is “mechanical pain,” when a specific part of the spine, such as a disc, ligament or joint is damaged and not working properly. Other common causes of back pain are disorders resulting from abnormalities in the formation and growth of the skeleton, trauma to the spine caused by injury, nerve problems and problems caused by or during pregnancy.

Look for these red flags to determine whether your back pain may signal more serious medical problems that should be assessed by a specialist:

  • Low back pain that shoots into your legs. This may signal a neurologic problem.
  • Neck pain that shoots into your arms, which may be the result of a “pinched” nerve.
  • Pain worsens when you cough or sneeze.
  • Inability to control your bowel function or urination.
  • Difficulty urinating or passing a bowel movement.
  • A history of cancer, for which back pain might indicate metastasis.
  • A diagnosis of osteoporosis. For people with weakened bones, back pain may indicate a fracture.
  • Persistent or debilitating pain.

Don’t ignore these symptoms. The earlier problems are diagnosed, the more successfully they can be treated.

If you have any questions or want to make an appointment with an expert at the Rush Spine and Back Center, please call (888) 352-RUSH.


More Information at Your Fingertips:
  • For information on spine and back care at Rush visit the Spine and Back Center home page.
  • Looking for information on other health topics? Visit our Health Information home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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