Back pain is common, but how common do you think it really is?  It is believed to be the second most commonly patient complaint in a Doctor’s office and  the most common complaint by patients of Chiropractors. A far more number of people miss work because of back pain. Over ninety percent of individuals will experience some form of back pain in their lives.  Yes, stating that back pain is common is an understatement.

Back pain can be chronic from years of pain. Say from a car accident that has just never healed.  Other times in can be acute, that movement you made while lifting your child or just out of the blue, without a warning.

But when should you become concerned that your back pain is something more than just something common?  

The following is ten things to consider about your back pain:

1.)     The first thing to understand is how did your back pain start? 

Did you fall, or were you in a car accident or did it occur after sleeping. Surprisingly, the severity of the pain, at least initially, can be similar even though the causes may differ.  But the risk for something significant can be directly tied to how it started.  Car accidents can have immediate pain or pain that surfaces days later.

2.)     Think about what sort of movements or activities make your pain worse.  

Does it hurt when you move a certain way or when you climb stairs or laying on one side while sleeping?  These are things that you need to think about.

3.)     What kind of pain are you feeling? 

Is it a muscle pain from over exercising or does it hurt like a knife going through your body?  Though certain pain doesn’t always point to a cause, it can help in determining if your back pain is serious.

4.)     Are you losing strength in your legs or arms? 

This is also an important distinction. Tingling in legs or arms is not considered the same as numbness or loss of strength.  Do you have trouble moving your toes, ankle or fingers?  Are you unable to stand?

5.)     Age.    

Age changes a lot of the expectations of injuries. What a twenty year old does to their body, compared to a seventy year old, the overall damage can be quite different.

6.)     What medications or medical conditions do you have?   

Back pain is a symptom, but not always of a back injury.   Cancer, smoking, certain medications, and many other things could cause the symptom of back pain – but the back may not be the actual cause.

7.)     Do you have any unexpected weight loss along with you back pain?  

This is an important thing to consider as well. Uncontrolled or unintended weight loss should always be a red flag.

8.)     Any loss of control with regards to bowel movements or bladder function.

 Often we don’t see this as related to out back pain and in most cases it may not.

9.)     Location of pain and duration. 

Sometimes other serious medical issue may appear as sudden or gradual back pain. Do you also have pain in your chest or maybe in your kidney’s?  Thing about where your pain is coming from, sometimes it might be too hard to differentiate.  Seek treatment if no noticeable improvement is seen after 72 hours.

10.)   Are you still in pain despite appropriate pain management?   

Sometimes, continued back pain despite the pain medications you’re taking, can indicate a more serious medical issue.


In the end, no one has a super power to see into your skin to your problem with only their eyes.  And sometimes back pain is just that, back pain. 85% of the time, back pain will resolve within two months or sooner. The problem is when time alone can’t fix the problem. In these cases, seek medical treatment and evaluation. X-rays, blood work, Imaging and other evaluation processes can help ensure that something more serious isn’t happening.

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