Back pain: these signs that should alert you

Back pain: these signs that should alert you

Back pain, also known as the evil of the century, impacts many French people in their daily lives. But certain symptoms can differentiate “ordinary” back pain from a more alarming episode. Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens, explains these signs that should lead you to consult.

It is estimated that 80% of French people are or will be affected one day or another by back pain. Bad posture, heavy load, wrong movement can impact our well-being and make us suffer. However, having back pain is not trivial and in certain cases, this pain can also reflect a more serious health problem. Here are the 6 signs that should not be ignored, according to Dr. Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens.


Pain that is accompanied by fever should always prompt you to consult your doctor, because this fever can be the sign of an infection. “This can be an infection of a disc by bacteria, such as spondylodiscitis for example. Likewise, an upper urinary tract infection, or pyelonephritis, located in the kidneys, can give the impression of back pain. “Fever should be an alert criterion” confirms our expert.

Poor general condition

A change in general condition accompanying back pain (weight loss, chronic fatigue, lack of energy, etc.) should also prompt you to consult. “It’s back pain which could mean something else, like an inflammatory disease.” evokes Dr. Kierzek. So check it out.

A pain coupled with another in the stomach or thorax

Back pain accompanied by another pain in the stomach or thorax may be linked not to the back, but to another organ. “We think of the heart in particular” establishes the emergency doctor. But it can also be pancreatitis with pain referred to the back which is called ‘transfixing’. These are pains not to be taken lightly.”

A pain that wakes you up

When pain is generated by movement (and decreases when we rest), we speak of mechanical pain. “But if the pain wakes you up at night, even without moving, it is insomnia, and throbbing, this means that it is inflammatory pain, and it is a sign of seriousness” explains our expert. In this case, we consult without delay.

Sciatica that spreads

If sciatica goes down the legs, you feel difficulty moving your toes, or it causes problems with having a bowel movement, or a loss of sensation in the genital area, it is time to consult too. “This is called cauda equina syndrome, and is most commonly caused by a herniated disc. This is a warning sign, we must act.” insists our medical director.

A history of cancer

Finally, if you have a history of cancer, even located elsewhere than in the back, pain that persists, or that wakes you up, should raise questions and lead you to consult your doctor. Unfortunately, some recurrences cause back pain.

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