Signs and symptoms of back pain may include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Limited flexibility or range of motion of the back

When to see a doctor

Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care, usually within two weeks. If not, see your doctor.

In rare cases, back pain can signal a serious medical problem. Seek immediate care if your back pain:

  • Causes new bowel or bladder problems
  • Is accompanied by fever
  • Follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury

Contact a doctor if your back pain:

  • Is severe and doesn't improve with rest
  • Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  • Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
  • Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss

Also, see your doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or drug or alcohol abuse.

June 17, 2015