Facebook Pixel

Back Pain: When Should I See a Doctor?

Back Pain - When Should I See a Doctor?Many sufferers of back pain have found themselves asking the question, when should I see a doctor? There are a lot of causes of back pain. Some may require immediate medical care while others are more subjective. Below are some guidelines to when you should see a doctor for your back pain.

When is Back Pain Serious?

As with any pain or illness, it’s important that you pay attention to your body so you can answer the question:

When Should I See a Doctor?

Back Pain Resulting from an Accident or Injury

If you have sudden back pain resulting from a car accident or fall, it’s important you seek medical care immediately. In these situations, you should call 911 or other emergency services.

Chest Pain with Tingling Down your Left Arm

If you have back and chest pain with tingling sensation down your left arm, it could be indicative of a serious problem. If this occurs, you should call 911 or contact emergency medical services immediately.

(Read more about arm pain as it relates to your spine.)

Back Pain and Fever and Chills

Back pain accompanied by a fever and chills could be a sign of a deeper problem like an infection. If you’re experiencing back pain and have a fever, you should contact your doctor. Your doctor can identify whether your symptoms are a sign of infection and whether an antibiotic is needed.2

Back Pain and Bladder or Bowel Problems

Back pain can sometimes be accompanied by bladder or bowel problems. If you have the sudden inability to control urine or your bowels it could be a sign of nerve compression in your spine and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Chronic or Acute Back Pain without other Accompanying Symptoms

Back pain, as with many medical conditions, can be categorized into two classes: chronic and acute.

Acute back pain is usually sudden, without any long term history of back pain. This type of pain can typically be managed through pain medication, physical therapy, exercise and rest. If you have acute back pain that lasts three or more days, you should contact a doctor.

Chronic back pain, on the other hand, extends over longer periods of time. With chronic back pain you may experience alternating episodes of pain and relief. It can also be more difficult to treat than acute back pain. If you have chronic back pain with symptoms lasting more than six weeks, you should see a doctor.

To learn more about chronic and acute back pain, see the section on symptoms.

If you’re unsure, it may be time to call a doctor and discuss your back pain.

Learn more about what’s involved in your first visit at Saratoga Spine or give us a call today at (518) 587-7746 (Saratoga) or (518) 743-1010 (Glens Falls).



  1. MayoClinic
  2. WebMD
*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery