Back Pain “Red Flag” Symptoms To Seek A Neurosurgeon

Back Pain “Red Flag” Symptoms To Seek A Neurosurgeon

Lower back pain is an extremely common disorder that has a profound impact on millions of individuals every single year. In fact, back pain is the number one most common cause of lost workdays in the United States and also is one of the most common reasons for patients to visit their primary care physicians. Studies project that 50 to 80% of the adult population will suffer from a memorable episode of lower back pain every year.

The majority of back pain cases are the result of sprain, strain, muscle spasm, and/or intervertebral disc degeneration. These types of pain can be difficult to bear when they act up, but the good news is that they typically get better on their own with simple non-invasive treatments like medication, physical therapy, heat or cold packs etc. But there are some cases where severe back pain may be a sign that you need surgery, which is what the neurosurgeons at Neurosurgery of Central Florida handle. The back pain in these cases may be caused by:
• Spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal
• Spondylosis, stiffening from wear-and-tear on the spine
• Developmental disorders
• Tumors
• Trauma

There are many parts of the spine that can contribute to lower back pain, and these are just some of the most common causes for severe cases.

While the majority of cases of lower back pain will not necessitate surgery, you should still be aware of certain red flags that signal a need to go to a neurosurgeon for diagnosis and treatment. Here are some symptoms to keep in mind that may mean a visit to the doctor:
• Back pain that is accompanied by bowel or bladder incontinence and/or numbness in the areas that would “sit on a saddle” (sometimes called saddle anesthesia), which may indicate a medical emergency called “equina syndrome”
• Back pain that comes with weakness, numbness, or pins-and-needles in the legs may indicate a compression of the spinal cord
• Back pain that seems to radiate down your buttock, leg, or foot for more than a few weeks time may be due to radiculopathy
• Back pain accompanied by fever may indicate an abscess
• Back pain that worsens during the night
• Back pain that comes with unexplained weight loss
• Back pain that doesn’t stop for several weeks or months
• Back pain after a serious fall, motor vehicle injury, or other trauma needs to be medically evaluated immediately

The causes of back pain vary widely, so if you experience any of the red flags listed above, then consider making an appointment.


In a lot of cases, lower back pain is able to be treated safely and effectively with non-operative measures such as physical therapy and pain medications. Surgery typically only is required for cases of severe pain, symptoms that are unresponsive to nonoperative therapy and conservative care, and serious conditions that may place risk on the spinal cord or surrounding nerves. Surgical treatments can vary widely and depend on the ultimate cause of the back pain.

To make an appointment, call Neurosurgery of Central Florida today.

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