Anyone who experiences back pain with incontinence and/or numbness around the groin area should seek immediate medical attention. (Incontinence means a partial or total loss of bladder and/ or bowel control. Numbness is when you have no sensitivity to touch.)
You should also seek prompt medical help if you meet the following criteria:
1: Your back pain has lasted for more than 6 weeks
2: Your pain is severe, getting worse or not improving
3: You have any of the below “red flag” symptoms
Red Flag Symptoms
Spine pain when you are over 55 or under 20
Pain or discomfort upon light tapping of the spine
Unexplained weight loss
You use/ have previously used steroids
You take/ you have previously taken drugs
You have been diagnosed with HIV
You feel generally unwell
You have symptoms of/ a family history of autoimmune disease. These symptoms may include other joint pain and morning stiffness.
You experience unusual symptoms in your legs such as tingling, numbness or weakness.
Obviously, incontinence and numbness around the groin area are also “red flag” warning signs.
Although experiencing the above symptoms can be worrying, most cases of back ache or pain are not serious (even if the pain you’re experiencing makes you think otherwise!) The important thing to remember is to seek medical advice if you are concerned about any aspect of your health. Ignoring your back symptoms and pain will not make them go away or change the eventual diagnosis. The sooner any potential health problems are addressed, and the earlier the exact cause of your symptoms is detected, the sooner you can receive the correct treatment.
Remember that stress and worry are risk factors for low back pain and can increase the pain and hinder recovery. Also bear in mind that pain severity does not always indicate the seriousness of the condition.
Seek medical help and attention if you are in any doubt over the severity or cause of your acute or chronic pain. Seek immediate medical help if you present with any of the symptom criteria in this article.
Don’t ignore or dismiss anything unusual or unexplained about your spine and the symptoms you’re experiencing. More often than not, symptoms are able to be managed under a professional treatment plan. Even if you’ve tried different options before, it is never too late to properly look after your spine. The alternative just isn’t worth the risk.