While many people tolerate occasional aches and pains in their back, severe back pain may indicate a larger problem.

If at any point you feel that your condition is serious enough that it can’t wait for a visit to your doctor’s office, you should visit the ER. Consider these guidelines:

If You Have These Symptoms, You May Require Emergency Care

Lower back pain, which can occur anywhere from your rib cage to your buttocks, is often the result of lifting, reaching, twisting and stretching. Upper and middle back pain, in most cases, does get better with time and rest. If your back pain is unrelenting and not relieved by rest, you should visit the ER. If the pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should also seek emergency care.

  • Fever
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence (loss of control)

If You Have These Medical Conditions, You May Require Emergency Care

For individuals with certain medical conditions, back pain may signify a more serious issue. If you have any of these medical conditions and are experiencing severe or chronic back pain, you should visit an ER.

  • History of cancer
  • Recent immunosuppression, either from surgery or prescribed drugs
  • Any recent injury or trauma, especially in the elderly
  • Prolonged use of steroids
  • Intravenous drug use

HCA West Florida has 20 full-service ERs, conveniently located along Florida’s West Coast. Our hospitals are leaders in improving ER processes to enhance patient care and reduce wait times.