Back pain is a common pain that is either sharp or gradual and felt in the back. The back is divided into neck pain, middle back pain, lower back pain or coccydynia (tailbone). The majority of back pain is nonspecific and has no identifiable causes. It is estimated that nine out of ten adults experience pain at some point and five out of ten working adults have it every year with many unable to work due to the severity. Luckily, most back pains do ease up after time however having there is one back pain symptom that could be serious, and you need to speak with your GP if you experience this.
When you experience a tingling feeling or a pins and needles sensation in your back it could be a major red flag warning.
These sensations could be a result from conditions that affect underlying nerves or is a result of a problem with the spine.
Known as parethesia, the causes can include infections, spinal injuries, fibromyalgia and vascular malformations.
The numbness and tingling is usually an indication of nerve irritation or damage and is clinically more significant than your typical pain.
When these sensations don’t go away, you may be experiencing one of several conditions such as spinal stenosis causing nerve pressure.
Left untreated, the prolonged nerve irritation and damage can lead to permanent disabilities.
Night time back pain is also a sign of a serious health issue and is a special type of lower back pain.
These worrying symptoms may require surgery and if left untreated could cause permanent damage or even paralysis.
The NHS offers advice to relieve back pain:
- Stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities.
- Try exercises and stretches for back pain such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates.
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen.
- Use a hot or cold compression pack for short-term relief.
“Often its not possible to identify the cause of back pain and doctors call this non-specific back pain.
“Occasionally back pain can be due to a medical condition such as a slipped disc or sciatica which is an irritation of the nerve that runs from the pelvis to the feet.
“Feelings such as numbness or a tingling sensation are treated differently to non-specific back pain,” added the NHS
Avoid heavy lifting as this will increase your risk of back pain. Exercising, weight management, better posture and quitting smoking are all ways to reduce your risks of back pain.
You should speak with your doctor if you have a loss of bowel and bladder function, loss of coordination or difficulty using the arms or legs or a sudden and severe pain and numbness down one or both legs.
Most back pains go away after six weeks and your GP will want to investigate more serious underlying causes if your pain is still severe after this time.
After an evaluation of your symptoms and a physical exam, your GP may order blood work and imaging tests to help determine a diagnosis.