"Should I go to the ER for Back Pain?"

While many people tolerate occasional aches and pains in their back, severe back pain may indicate a larger problem. But how do you know if your back pain, or that of a loved one, has reached the point that it requires an emergency department visit?

If at any point you feel that your condition is serious enough that it can’t wait for a visit with your primary care physician, you should visit the emergency department. However, if you’re not sure whether your back pain deems emergency care, consider these guidelines.

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.

Visit the ER if:

  • Your back pain is unrelenting and not relieved by rest
  • The pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Numbness
    • Weakness
    • Bladder or bowel incontinence (loss of control)
  • You have another medical condition:
    • 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

Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, located on 20th and High Street in Denver, can address your back pain. We strive to beat the national average wait time, so you can get quick access to high-quality emergency medical care. Learn more about our ER.