Visit an Emergency Room Instead of Urgent Care Clinic : Back Pain

Visit an Emergency Room Instead of Urgent Care Clinic : Back Pain

One of the most common reasons people visit a hospital emergency room is for back pain. It’s also one of the biggest misdiagnoses—people often think they’re experiencing severe back pain when they’re actually having a heart attack. If you experience sharp, shooting pains in your left shoulder blade, or if it hurts so much that you have trouble walking, call 911. Otherwise, you should definitely seek treatment at an emergency room if your back pain lasts more than three days and isn’t improving (or if it becomes worse). The best way to diagnose a condition causing chronic or persistent back pain is with an MRI scan. If there are no abnormalities on your scan and you still have back pain, consider seeing a physical therapist.

If you experience back pain that does not subside, or is worse than usual, it’s important to see a doctor. Depending on where your back pain is located and how severe it is, you may have a slipped disc (also known as a herniated disc), spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or other serious conditions. In many cases, bed rest and over-the-counter medications will not help with such issues; only doctors can effectively treat them. If your symptoms do not subside after several days of bed rest and medication use, you should seek medical attention immediately. Do NOT take any prescription medicines without consulting your doctor first—you may be at risk for adverse side effects if they are taken without supervision.

Most back pain will resolve on its own with simple, self-care. However, sometimes back pain that is caused by a structural problem (like arthritis) or a nerve condition will not improve on its own, and can become more serious if left untreated. When back pain persists and you are experiencing additional symptoms like numbness or tingling down your arms, weakness in your legs or trouble walking, it’s time to seek treatment from a doctor. If you have severe ongoing back pain that is interfering with daily life and normal activities, then be sure to check in with your local Emergency Department for care. They can help determine if further tests are needed or if there is an appropriate treatment option for you.

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