Back pain : When to see a doctor?

Most back pain gets better within a few weeks without treatment. If you're very uncomfortable, you can rest in bed for a day or two, but longer than that does more harm than good. Over-the-counter pain medications often help reduce back pain, as does the application of cold or heat to the painful area.

Call your doctor if your back pain hasn't improved after a week of home treatment or 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 your knee
  • Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
  • Occurs with unintended weight loss
  • Occurs with swelling or redness on your back

Call 911 or emergency medical help or have someone drive you to the emergency room if your back pain:

  • Occurs after a high-impact car crash, bad fall or sports injury
  • Causes new bowel or bladder control problems
  • Occurs with a fever

Source: mayoclinic.org