Beejal Y. Amin MD

When is Back Pain Cause for Alarm?

Mar 01, 2024

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Among the most common complaints in adults in the United States, back pain can often come and go. When should you see a doctor for back pain, and when does back pain indicate a potentially serious underlying issue? Read more.

You wake up in the morning with aches and pains in your back. Should you be worried? What if, after an accident or an injury, you continue to experience pain in your back or neck?

Because back pain is so commonplace in adults in the United States, it can be challenging to determine when you should take over-the-counter pain medication and not worry about it and when you should seek medical attention for persistent back pain. Dr. Beejal Y. Amin in Hinsdale and Woodridge, Illinois, understands this difficulty and is here to help.

Whenever you’re concerned about back pain, contact Dr. Amin at his offices in Oak Lawn, South Holland, and Orland Park, Illinois. Dr. Amin can examine your condition, review your back pain symptoms, and let you know if any underlying medical issues contribute to your back pain. 

Common causes of back pain

One reason why back pain is so prevalent is that many potential issues cause back pain as a symptom. Some of these issues need medical care. Here are some common causes of back pain you should know about.

Acute back pain

If your back pain comes on suddenly and is intense, it’s known as acute back pain. Ligament damage, muscle strains, or damage to the spongy discs that act as cushioning shock absorbers between the small bones of your spine can cause this pain.

You’re more likely to find yourself dealing with acute back pain after an accident or injury, whether it’s an auto accident or a strain from lifting something heavy with the wrong technique. Sports injuries can also result in acute back pain.

Chronic back pain

For many back pain patients, symptoms aren’t acute but chronic, meaning you live with low-grade pain and aches in or around your back. Your symptoms may be more concentrated in one area, such as your upper or lower back.

Chronic back pain may occur due to spinal abnormalities, spinal degeneration, or even spinal tumors and cancer. If you’re born with a condition like scoliosis, you have a higher risk of chronic back pain. You can also experience back pain as a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.

Spinal degeneration tends to affect you more as you get older. If you have osteoarthritis, damage to your spinal bones can result in the growth of bone spurs, narrowing your spinal space and increasing your risk of pinched nerves. You can also suffer from a herniated spinal disc, which happens when a damaged disc’s core spills out into the spinal canal.

Whether your back pain is chronic or acute, if it’s interfering with your daily life, you need professional help and support.

When to seek care for back pain

As a rule of thumb, Dr. Amin recommends seeking care after trying conservative treatments like rest and stretching for six weeks without sufficient back pain relief. At that point, it’s time to get diagnosed and benefit from a professional treatment plan.

To learn more about your back pain and its underlying causes, Dr. Amin performs a physical examination of your spine and reviews your medical history and symptoms. He may also use diagnostic imaging tools to determine why you’re suffering from back pain.

Then, Dr. Amin works with you to create a customized care plan to treat and relieve your back pain. You may benefit from:

  • Rest and lifestyle changes
  • Healthy weight loss
  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Steroid (anti-inflammatory) or nerve-block injections

You may also need spine surgery to address your back pain. Dr. Amin specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, so you’re in good hands if you require more intensive treatment.

If you’re concerned about back pain, contact Dr. Amin over the phone or online today to schedule your initial consultation appointment.