Back Pain : The Causes and When to Worry

Back PainIt is very common for everyone to feel some sort of back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, about 80% of adults experience back pain in their lives, so it’s not a cause for concern if you suddenly feel some back pain.

It’s also shouldn’t be a concern if you are feeling back pain after a day of intense physical activity and lots of moving. That’s just how the body works. Back pain often follows physical activity that is intensive and different from what your body is used to. Many athletes have been known to feel some sort of back pain after a good marathon run or intense game of sports. 

During your 20s and 30s, normal back pain can be part of daily life. This is because many people in that age bracket are on the go a lot, employed by jobs that are physically demanding, and aren’t looking after their physical being as much as they should. 

There are millions of people who don’t take care of themselves and don’t take any time to stretch or wind down after a long day. There are many cures and ways to resolve common back pain, such as stretching before bed, drinking lots of water, taking a cold or hot shower and making sure to sleep in some natural, comfortable positions. 

Many people shrug off a lot of the back pain they feel because they think it is just a part of life that has to be expected and accepted. While some back pains are not causes for worry, there are other types of back pain that are very worrisome. In fact, there are certain signs that you should be on the look out for. If any of them accompany back pain, you should seek medical advice and help to make sure there aren’t more serious problems lurking in your body.

Most back pain is caused by physical exertion and should be monitored but not too worried about. However, some back pain is caused by serious issues and health problems. If your back pain lasts more than 72 hours, especially after applying ice and resting, you should consult a doctor to see what the cause is.

Sharp Pain

While back pain can be fairly normal at times, especially in your younger years, you should always be a bit concerned if the pain you are feeling is sharp and sudden. If you are feeling sharp pain instead of a dull back ache, this might be a sign that you have torn a muscle or ligament. Furthermore, a feeling like this could indicate a problem with an internal organ on the back or the side of the body. 

Radiating Pain

Back pain is usually located in one spot. As long as the pain isn’t sharp, this is usually a sign that the back issue will resolve itself with some stretching, ice, and rest. However, if the pain you are feeling in your back is radiating or moving around your back, this could be a problem. It is especially worrisome if the radiating pain shoots down your legs and to the glutes on your backside. If that happens, this is indicating that perhaps you have a nerve compression condition. If that’s the case, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. 

Weakness in the Legs

One of the most annoying things about back pain is that it can also lead to other aches and pains. Sometimes a sore or hurt back will give you a headache, neck ache or will even hurt your shoulders, chest or legs. However, if you feel sudden weakness in the legs, you should be alarmed. Weakness in legs or really in any limb can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine. This could be because of conditions such as sciatica or spinal stenosis. 

Additionally, sudden leg weakness could indicate that you are having or about to have a stroke. Essentially, if you feel limb weakness that is sudden and very noticeable, you might be experiencing nerve damage – or worse. This is one of the biggest red flags you can feel related to back pain and is cause for you to contact your doctor or medical professional as soon as possible.


If you are not capable of controlling your bowels or bladder, this is a very good indication that you have serious nerve compression or possibly a spine infection. If you experience this, you need to contact your doctor immediately. 

Chronic Pain Affecting your Daily Life

For older adults specifically, sometimes chronic pain affects their ability to take care of themselves. If pain is preventing you from completing what are known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), it could be time to seek long-term care. Obviously, most people want to age in place without the help of others, but sometimes pain can be severe enough to warrant constant care and supervision. 

Numbness or Pin and Needles

Numbness in the groin or glutes or pins and needles is called saddle anesthesia and is often a sign of nerve damage or a spin condition. If you are feeling this with back pain, your doctor should be made aware quickly so it can be resolved.