When Back Pain Symptoms May Signal a Medical Emergency

More than 80 percent of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. While back pain may be a common occurrence, certain symptoms indicate much more serious problems and may be even life-threatening emergencies. If you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms, it is crucial that you seek the attention of a qualified medical professional immediately.

Severe Low Back and Stomach Pain

Acute pain in the lower back and stomach may indicate a serious medical condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm. This condition arises when the aorta in the abdomen becomes enlarged. If not dealt with promptly, this condition may lead to rupturing of the blood vessel or internal bleeding, both of which are serious emergencies. While this condition is not common, acute pain that migrates from the abdomen to the low back should be closely monitored and reported to a qualified physician.

Loss of Bladder/Bowel Control and Leg Weakness

Sudden loss of bowel or bladder control or continually growing leg weakness should warrant a consultation with a physician immediately. These may be signs of a serious medical condition called cauda equina syndrome. This condition develops when nerve roots in the lower spine become severely compressed. When left untreated, cauda equina syndrome may lead to paralysis of the legs and permanent incontinence. Common symptoms include loss of sensation in the inner thighs and difficulty walking due to weakness and numbness in the legs and feet.

Unrelenting Fever Accompanied by Back Pain

A sustained fever accompanied by back pain may indicate a spinal infection. While rare, such an infection may lead to an epidural abscess, compressing the nerves in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine. Such pressure may lead to varying levels of paralysis, so prompt medical attention is of the utmost importance.

Appetite Loss, Neurological Issues, and Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexplained appetite and weight loss could be indicative of a serious condition such as cancer. Spinal tumors located in or near the spine typically result in symptoms such as weakness/numbness of the extremities, back or neck pain, continually worsening back pain that cannot be alleviated, nausea, fever, or chills. Individuals exhibiting such symptoms should seek the attention of a qualified medical professional to begin the diagnostic process.

While most back-pain sufferers do not experience any of the above symptoms, those who suspect a more serious issue should consult with a qualified medical professional immediately. If you or a loved one experience any of the above symptoms or other sudden, unexplained pain and weakness, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. At the Spine Institute of Dr. Marc A. Cohen, our specialists can provide you with options to take charge of your pain. Call 973-538-4444 or contact us online to make an appointment.