When back pain may be a medical emergency

While not common, certain back pain symptoms are a sign of a medical emergency that may become life threatening or result in disability without prompt attention from an experienced physician.
Patients who experience any of the following symptoms should seek medical attention as quickly as possible:
•Progressive leg weakness and/or loss of bowel or bladder control
These symptoms may be indicative of cauda equina syndrome, which is usually caused by severe compression of the entire nerve sac in the lower spine.
•Unexplained weight loss accompanied by pain and neurological impairment
Rapid, unexplained weight loss can indicate a serious medical condition, such as cancer. For example, a spinal tumor that is lodged in or around the spine.
•Acute, severe stomach pain along with low back pain such that the patient cannot stand straight
Acute lower back pain that does not follow an obvious trauma, or movement associated with the onset of pain, can be a symptom of an enlargement of the aorta (large artery) in the abdomen, called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.This condition becomes a serious medical emergency if the blood vessel ruptures or internal bleeding occurs.
•Fever with increased pain which does not respond to common fever reducers
Fever can indicate an infection. In the spine an infection can arise gradually if the immune system has been weakened, or it can occur following surgery.

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