SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Symptoms of back pain may include:
- Muscle ache
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Pain that radiates down your leg
- Limited flexibility or range of motion of the back
- Inability to stand up straight
When to see a doctor
Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care. Although the pain may take several weeks to disappear completely, you should notice some improvement within the first 72 hours of self-care. If not, see your doctor.
In rare cases, back pain can signal a serious medical problem. Seek immediate care if your back pain:
- Causes new bowel or bladder problems
- Is associated with pain or throbbing (pulsation) in the abdomen, or fever
- Follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury
Contact a doctor if your back pain:
- Is constant or intense, especially at night or when you lie down
- Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
- Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
- Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
- Occurs with swelling or redness on your back
Also, see your doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or drug or alcohol abuse.
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