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Generally speaking, if you have severe back pain that doesn’t improve with rest or which doesn’t subside within a week of home treatment, you should be checked out by a healthcare professional. If your back pain is due to a fall, an accident or a blow to the back, you should see a doctor immediately.

Also, if you have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for a spinal fracture, such as osteoporosis, you need to see a doctor immediately if you experience back pain. Your doctor will make sure that there’s no structural damage or conditions that require immediate treatment.

Sometimes back pain can point to a serious medical problem.

Red flags for back pain

If you have back pain and experience any of the red flags below, you should see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Bladder or bowel control problems (such as difficulty passing urine)
  • Numbness in the groin or in the vicinity of the anal region
  • Weakness, numbness or pins and needles in the legs
  • Fever
  • Rapid weight loss
  • A history of cancer
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain running down one or both legs
  • Feeling unsteady on your feet
  • Increased pain when lying down
  • Pain that wakes you up at night
  • Pain that’s unrelated to movement
  • Pain that’s localised in the upper back (thoracic spine)
  • A history of prolonged corticosteroid use
  • A history of intravenous drug use
  • A history of urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • In a child: any severe back pain that persists for more than three days

Questions to ask your doctor

The following questions will help you to make the most of your doctor’s visit:

  • What is causing my back pain?
  • What is the significance of my back pain? Is it a sign of ongoing damage?
  • Are there any other symptoms I should look out for that could indicate a more serious condition?
  • Are there activities I should start, continue or temporarily or permanently avoid to ease my back pain?
  • Could my work (either my work station or manual work) be causing or contributing to my back pain?
  • Should I get bed rest while my back hurts?
  • What treatment options can I consider for my back pain?
  • How long should I take medication or do special exercises for my back pain?
  • Are there alternative therapies that I could consider?
  • What can I do to prevent back pain from returning?

Yellow flags for back pain

Yellow flags are related to our beliefs about pain. They primarily have to do with our psychological response to the experience of pain – in other words, our fear of movement, our expectations in terms of the management of the problem, and our social behaviours and interactions. They include attitudes and beliefs, emotions, behaviours, and family and workplace factors.

If you experience any of the following, it’s important to discuss and address these problems with your doctor. These factors could play a key role in your rehabilitation and recovery:

  • Continuous negative thoughts, where you believe back pain is dangerous or could be severely disabling
  • Avoiding certain movements, reducing your activity levels, or not exercising due to fear of causing further damage
  • Expecting that passive treatment like medication, massage or surgery, rather than active treatment, will be beneficial
  • Feelings of depression, low morale or anxiety, and social withdrawal
  • Social or financial problems
  • Unsupportive work environment and/or overprotective or critical partner
  • Use of extended rest
  • Anxiety about heightened body sensations
  • Impaired sleep
  • Believing that pain is uncontrollable
  • Misinterpreting physical symptoms
  • An increased intake of alcohol or other substances since the pain started
  • Yellow flags are often difficult to identify and manage. Seeking help may assist you in addressing these factors more readily.

Chronic back pain, depression and suicide

Research by Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that there’s a link between chronic pain (including back pain), and depression or “low mood” and suicide, but that doctors often miss this link because they primarily focus on physical pain. There also exists a risk of increased anxiety and substance abuse in people who suffer from chronic back pain.

If you have chronic back pain, you may benefit from checking in with a psychologist or psychiatrist, especially if you:

  • Have a history of depression, anxiety or previous suicide attempts
  • Have a history of alcohol and/or substance abuse
  • Tend to be impulsive or aggressive
  • Have experienced loss (e.g. work, family or social roles)
  • Are resistant to seeking help for fear of stigma
  • Have a family history of suicide
  • Are not functioning as you should

SOURCE: https://www.health24.com/Medical/Backache/About-backache/back-pain-when-to-see-a-doctor-20180724

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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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Thank you very much for contacting Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

To best serve your individual needs, please choose from the following options:

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To learn more about Long Island Spine Specialists – and to discover how we can relieve your pain and help you find an improved quality of life – please contact our office today and schedule a consultation.

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