Any occurrence of sudden back pain, back muscle spasms, and/or sciatica are signs you might be having a “back attack.” These symptoms should not be left undiagnosed and untreated. Just as you would seek an immediate diagnosis and treatment for chest pain, you should visit a physiatrist or other physician trained in spinal disorders as soon as possible whenever you experience incapacitating back pain. A back attack could indicate an emergency situation that could result in permanent damage if not treated promptly.
Signs of Emergency
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may have a serious spinal problem and should seek medical attention immediately:
- Loss of control of the bowel or bladder, or retention of urine, or numbness around the rectum This may indicate potentially dangerous damage to the spine’s cauda equina nerves, a bundle of nerves in the low back where the spinal cord ends. Damage to these nerves can be permanent if not treated quickly. It is essential that you be seen by a spine specialist within 24 hours. Go to an emergency room, if necessary.
- Severe or worsening weakness or numbness in a leg or arm. This is another sign of serious nerve damage that may be permanent if not treated immediately. If you experience “foot drop,” a condition in which the muscles of the leg and foot are too weak to lift the foot while walking, see a spine specialist within 24 hours.
- Numbness, pain or tingling that radiates into an arm or leg.This symptom might be caused by a serious condition. See a spine specialist within a few days.
- High fever accompanied by back pain. This may be a sign of possible infection of the spine. See a spine specialist within 24 hours.
If you have a “back attack”, call us and we’ll accurately diagnose the source of your pain, and advise you on how to get back on your feet again.
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