Low back pain is one of the most common chronic pain conditions around the world. Indeed, recent statistics suggest about 31 million Americans
currently suffer from some degree of low back pain. One common question patients have is when to take their back pain seriously.
Below, we'll go over three ways you can tell if your back pain is a sign of a more serious condition. 1) Check Your Emotions: Tension Myositis Syndrome
Thanks in large part to the pioneering work of Dr. John E. Sarno
, there's now a growing field dedicated to mind-body healing
. This healing method recognizes that psychological traumas can manifest as physical symptoms. More and more studies show how mental issues like depression
can be linked with pain symptoms like back pain. According to Sarno's research, people who are overly perfectionistic are most prone to develop what he called "tension myositis syndrome" (TMS). Basically, TMS means a physical pain symptom that's caused by a repressed psychological trauma rather than tissue damage. If you often feel stressed and show no signs of tissue damage on your MRI scans, then you should consider looking more into mind-body healing. Some of the best ways to overcome TMS syndrome include meditation, journaling, and counseling.2) Do You Have Digestive Distress?
Sometimes back pain can be linked with various digestive and genitourinary disorders. If you experience sudden changes in your bowel or urination habits, then this could be a sign that your back pain is part of a larger issue. For instance, it's well known that back pain is sometimes mistaken for a kidney disorder
. Sometimes intestinal or genitourinary issues alongside back pain indicate issues like a pinched nerve, herniated disk, or, in serious cases, a tumor. Definitely mention these symptoms to your doctor along with your back pain
.3) Does Your Pain Radiate?
You should see your doctor if you have back pain that radiates either up or down your body. This is especially true if you experience spasms down your leg. Usually referred leg pain is a warning sign of a serious condition known as sciatica. Other potential issues of pain that radiates to various parts of your body include pinched nerves, herniated disks, or spondylolisthesis. It's equally important to look out for any tingling sensations in your body as these could be warning signs of damaged nerves.
Although back pain is a common condition, that doesn't mean you should take it lightly. Always discuss all of your symptoms with your primary care doctor. Thankfully, there are many wonderful treatment options available for back pain patients including medications, herniated disc treatment
, and laser spine surgery. Be sure to figure out what treatment could work best for your condition.