By “serious” back pain, I mean potentially life-threatening or disabling.
The warning signs in no particular order:
- recent trauma
- recent intravenous drug abuse
- unexplained weight loss
- history of cancer
- prolonged pain
- disabling symptoms
- immunosuppression (compromised immune system for any reason)
- age over 70
- progressive focal neurologic deficits, such as loss of bowel or bladder control, numbness, weakness on one side, impaired gait
Low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal disorder worldwide. Eighty percent of us will suffer from it at some point. For most, a specific cause cannot be established with certainty. But if you have one of the 10 warning signs of serious back pain, be sure to see a doctor soon.