Between easy internet searches and apps that aim to diagnose illness and injury in a matter of a few clicks, we are a culture of medical DIY. But if youâ€™ve been experiencing chronic back pain, self-diagnosis can be dangerous.
â€śIn this day and age of limited time with doctors coupled with ample opportunity to google anything, the temptation for people to reach their own conclusions about their illness is strong,â€ť said Psychology Today. â€śWhen you self-diagnose, you are essentially assuming that you know the subtleties that diagnosis constitutes. This can be very dangerous, as people who assume that they can surmise what is going on with themselves may miss the nuances of diagnosis.â€ť
And thatâ€™s just the beginning of the potential issues related to self-diagnosing your chronic back pain.
The chronic back pain probably wonâ€™t go away on its own
Unfortunately, many people fail to get proper treatment, or get it quickly, because they think they know best or donâ€™t make seeing a doctor for chronic back pain a priority. While back pain is among the most common physical ailments, and low back pain the most common type of back pain, a majority of injuries do improveâ€”with the right diagnosis and treatment.
â€śAlthough most patients with acute low back pain will improve with conservative treatmentâ€¦a subset of patients will progress to chronic and sometimes disabling symptoms,â€ť said the National Center for Biotechnology Information,Â U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI).
You may not be aware of the seriousness of an injury or condition
So youâ€™ve had lower back pain and youâ€™re also feeling weakness in your arms or legs. You may chalk this up to overexertion in the gym, but it could be something far more serious. Back pain that spreads to the leg could be a sign of sciatica. Weaknesses in your legs or arms, especially if itâ€™s localized to one side, could also be a sign of stroke. Ignoring these symptoms could be devastating, which is why itâ€™s so important to see a doctor instead of suffering with chronic back pain.
You may think itâ€™s the same thing youâ€™ve experienced before
If youâ€™ve been living with chronic back pain or if youâ€™ve had a back injury like a bulging disc or a pinched nerve in the past, you may think you can diagnosis your issue and treat it like you have before. But what if youâ€™re wrong? Many symptoms of back pain can masquerade as something else, so it could be that the treatment youâ€™re providing is all wrong, or could even be doing more harm. At the very least, delaying the appropriate treatment by having your doctor diagnose your chronic pain can put off healing and keep you in pain unnecessarily.
You donâ€™t realize it can progress to something worse
Even worse, not getting treatment or not getting the right treatment can create dangerous conditions in which your injury can progress or further degenerate. Not getting prompt treatment for a herniated disk can be increasingly painful and potentially catastrophic.
â€śYou may have had aÂ herniated disk, where part of the spinal disk pushed onto nearby nerves. Normally, the disks provide space and cushion in your spine,â€ť said the New York Times. â€śIf these disks dry out and become thinner and more brittle, you can lose movement in the spine over time. â€śIf the spaces between the spinal nerves and spinal cord become narrowed, this can lead toÂ spinal stenosis. These problems are called degenerative joint or spine disease.â€ť
The treatment (or lack of) could be doing you more harm in other ways
Maybe Ibuprofen is your go-to medicine for aches and pains. Doctors often prescribe it for pain relief, but what they know and you may not is that there are dangers involved in taking this medication over very long periods of time. Long-term use of Ibuprofen has been linked to an increased risk of heart problems, kidney damage, and can also â€śdamage the lining of your stomach, putting you at risk for stomach ulcers and heartburn,â€ť said Everyday Health. Canâ€™t take Ibuprofin because of other medication youâ€™re on? Relying on Tylenol for long-term pain control also has its risks. â€śA small group of studies raised questions about acetaminophen’s safety if used for a long time and at high doses to treat chronicÂ pain,â€ť said WebMD. â€śIf you take too much, it can hurt yourÂ liver. In extreme cases, it can even causeÂ liver failure. When you follow the instructions on those pill-bottle labels, it’s helpful and safe.â€ť
If you donâ€™t see a doctor, you donâ€™t know what you need, so any treatment you provide yourself is just guesswork. Are you really willing to risk your future back health on a guess?
For more information about dealing with chronic back pain, contactÂ DISC Spine Institute, experts inÂ minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain. Minimally invasive procedures mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever, with outpatient treatments and easier surgical treatments with small incisions and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.