Your back pain symptoms have moved into your rear end. Or maybe your leg is falling asleep. What about those pins and needles in your arm? Back pain can express itself in a number of different ways, and what may seem like a strange symptom is probably something your doctor has seen before. The trick to getting relief and making sure your condition isn’t serious is seeing a top back doctor who can provide a diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment for back pain.
General achiness when you haven’t worked out
An achy back can mean a lot of things, from a muscle strain caused by a bout of allergy-induced coughing, to a poor night of sleep in the wrong position, to inflammation related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Back pain can appear seemingly out of nowhere, and aches you can’t seem to attribute to anything can be doubly annoying.
It’s not always easy to know what the issue is, or if it’s tied to an underlying problem, especially if you can’t track the start of pain to a specific event. And, because many back issues can have similar symptoms and masquerade as other ailments, you could have a herniated disc and simply write it off as a sore muscle, which may mean you wouldn’t get the treatment you need. This is why it’s so important to see an expert spine doctor when back pain starts.
Pain in your rear end or down your leg
Feel like maybe you pulled a muscle in your glutes or in your leg? You may have sciatica, which creates pressure on, or damage to, the sciatic nerve and is commonly caused by a slipped disc or spinal stenosis.
“Sciatica pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move,” said the New York Times. “The pain most often occurs on one side. Some people have sharp pain in one part of the leg or hip and numbness in other parts. The pain or numbness may also be felt on the back of the calf or on the sole of the foot. The affected leg may feel weak. Sometimes, your foot gets caught on the ground when walking.”
Back pain in combination with loss of bladder control
How’s your bladder control? The truth is, if ongoing back pain symptoms or pain that comes and goes is just part of your reality, you might not recognize its relationship to other potentially dangerous symptoms. Perhaps you’ve written off your bladder issues to advancing age, but this symptom can also indicate spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis is “most often caused by changes that can happen as people age,” said WebMD, and symptoms can include “numbness, weakness, cramping, or pain in the legs, feet, or buttocks. These symptoms get worse when you walk, stand straight, or lean backward. The pain gets better when you sit down or lean forward. In severe cases, loss of bladder and bowel control.”
Bladder control issues in combination with low back pain and weakness can also be an indicator of cauda equina syndrome, which is an extremely dangerous condition requiring immediate care from your doctor. It can either come on slowly (or symptoms can come and go for a period of time) or be acute, with a rapid onset of extreme low back pain with loss of bladder and bowel function. In either case, early diagnosis and treatment are needed. “Cauda equina syndrome is a rare disorder that usually is a surgical emergency,” said WebMD. “In patients with cauda equina syndrome, something compresses on the spinal nerve roots. You may need fast treatment to prevent lasting damage leading to incontinence and possibly permanent paralysis of the legs.”
Numbness in arm with pain in neck or shoulder
Say the phrase, “numbness in arm” and the mind tend to go right to “stroke,” especially if it’s the left arm. But numbness in the arm, especially with pain in the neck or shoulder, an also be a sign of cervical radiculopathy.
“Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a pinched nerve, occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord,” said the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “This may cause pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm and into the hand. Cervical radiculopathy is often caused by ‘wear and tear’ changes that occur in the spine as we age, such as arthritis. In younger people, it is most often caused by a sudden injury that results in a herniated disk.”
Whether your condition is something minor that only requires conservative treatment to relieve your back pain symptoms or surgery may be in the cards, it pays to see a board certified and fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon for the best care. If you’re ready to consider minimally invasive surgical treatments, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain.