Font Size
A
A
A

Upper and Middle Back Pain (cont.)

Symptoms

In general, symptoms of upper and middle back pain may:

  • Feel like a dull, burning, or sharp pain.
  • Be felt at a single point or over a broad area.
  • Start suddenly or slowly get worse.
  • Be constant or come and go.
  • Occur with muscle tightness or stiffness.
  • Get worse when you do certain activities or move and sit in a certain way.

More serious symptoms that need to be treated right away include:

  • Weakness in your arms or legs.
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, chest, or belly.
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control.

When to Call a Doctor

In most cases, back pain gets better with home treatment. So unless you have signs of a severe illness, injury, or heart attack, you can give your back pain some time to work itself out before you call your doctor.

Call or other emergency services immediately if:

  • Back pain occurs with chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in your chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in your back, neck, jaw, upper belly, or one or both shoulders or arms. See a picture of areas where symptoms may be feltClick here to see an illustration..
    • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
    • A fast or uneven heartbeat.
  • A person has signs of damage to the spine after an injury (such as a car accident, fall, or direct blow to the spine). Signs may include:
    • Being unable to move part of the body.
    • Severe back or neck pain.
    • Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms, legs, chest, or belly.
    • Loss of bowel or bladder control.
  • You can't walk or stand at all because of weakness and not just because it hurts too much.
  • You suddenly lose bowel or bladder control, even if you were not injured.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you won't need treatment. If you get worse, you and your doctor will decide what to do next. If your back pain is mild to moderate, it probably will get better on its own. You can try home treatment to relieve your symptoms. If you don't feel better in 1 to 2 weeks, call your doctor.

Be sure to call your doctor right away if you start to have other symptoms or you have:

  • Numbness.
  • Weakness.
  • Fever.
  • Urinary symptoms, such as pain when you urinate.
  • Pain that is getting worse.
  • Pain that you can't manage at home.

Who to see

Health care professionals who often diagnose the cause of back pain include:

If your back pain is severe or long-lasting, health professionals who can treat you include:

You can also get care from:

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.



NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD


Medical Dictionary