Back pain emergency vs. consult a chiropractor.

Before we get into some common types of pain that might motivate you to consult a chiropractor, it’s important to note that some types of back and neck pain are more likely to be medical emergencies.

Medical care should not be delayed if you experience the following:

  • An intense headache that occurs suddenly.
  • Weakness in arms or legs that is getting worse.
  • Localized pain in one leg accompanied by swelling, redness, and/or warmth.
  • Neck pain paired with slurred speech, weakness or numbness in limbs, dizziness, double vision, or nausea.
  • Sudden and severe lower back pain paired with bladder or bowel difficulties.
  • Dull pain in the lower back that is worsening and is accompanied by a fever and/or nausea.
  • Back or neck pain after an accident or injury along with sudden weakness, tingling, or numbness in arms or legs.

If the above list of symptoms does not apply to you, or if you’ve been to a medical doctor for back pain with no results, a chiropractic consultation might be a good idea – especially if you have….

1. Back Pain With No Apparent Cause

Statements like these are common in my office…

“I just got up this morning and my back went out. I have no clue what I did.”


“I just bent over to tie my shoe and my back tightened up and now I can’t stand up straight.”

The first question I always ask is, “Did you do anything strenuous yesterday or the day before?”

And then we often find the reason for their flair-up. Many times pain, inflammation, muscle tightness, and muscle spasms will occur 1-3 days after the actual physical stress or strain takes place.

You might paint your living room, pull weeds, shovel snow, go golfing, or work out for the first time in a while, and not feel the effects until a day or two later.

2. Back Pain That Keeps Returning

If you experience the same kind of back or neck pain in the same area of the spine again and again, that’s a strong indication that the underlying cause of the pain is not being addressed.

If your back “goes out” pretty regularly, it could be…

  1. Some type of physical stressor to which the body is not adapting, like lifting heavy things, sitting or standing for long periods, being in awkward positions throughout the day, etc.
  2. An injury that is not healing.
  3. A condition present in the spine that requires correction.
  4. A condition present in the spine that requires lifestyle modification, such as arthritis, disc problems, degeneration, etc.

Read More: Why your back keeps going out and 5 things you can do about it.

Many people who experience repeated episodes of back pain believe that when their pain goes away with time, pain relievers, stretching, etc., so does the issue causing it, and that is not often the case.

Just like a cavity in your mouth, the problem doesn’t just disappear because you take some medication for pain or rub some pain relieving gel on your gums. That throbbing ache will continue to come back until the cavity is fixed.

If discomfort is being caused by arthritis, fixated vertebrae, disc degeneration, bulging discs, or chronic inflammation (among other conditions), flair-ups can continue to happen with seemingly minor activities and will likely worsen over time.

If you consult a chiropractor, X-rays or an MRI might be suggested to determine if any of these conditions are present.

3. Back Pain That Is Worsening Over Time

Back or neck pain that is getting worse as you age is something that needs to be investigated. It suggests that the underlying cause of the pain is also worsening.

Read More: 5 ways to maintain spinal health as you age.

If a spinal condition is deteriorating, you might also notice that pain flair-ups will occur more frequently, as well.

Chronic pain that originates from the spine won’t just spontaneously go away if ignored. Doing nothing only delays recovery and allows the problem to degenerate.

4. Pain That Worsens With Activity

There are many reasons why back pain might be exacerbated with activity. A few that come to mind are:

  • Joint Inflammation
  • Disc Degeneration
  • Spinal Fixation
  • Nerve Irritation
  • Bulging Discs
  • Tendinitis
  • Sprained Ligaments
  • Pulled Muscles
  • Bursitis
  • Arthritis

These are not the only conditions that would cause an increase in back or neck pain with activity, but an experienced chiropractor should be able to determine whether some spinal adjustments are advantageous for you or not.

Read More: 10 questions to ask when you first consult a chiropractor.

5. Pain In The Morning That Resolves With Activity

From a chiropractic point of view, I’ve found that this is a common occurrence for people with inflammation of spinal discs and other vertebral joints.

Inactivity, like while sleeping, can allow inflammation to build. When it does, the person will wake up with pain and stiffness which goes away shortly after getting out of bed and moving around.

Read More: 8 sources of inflammation you might be missing.

Pain upon waking can also be the result of a poor sleeping position or a bed that does not support your spine properly.

A Final Word

There are many reasons why someone might be battling chronic pain, but keep in mind that all pain comes from the brain. What I mean is that the brain ultimately determines whether or not you’ll experience pain, and uses it for a number of purposes.

Your brain is basically trying to…

  1. Alert you that there is a problem.
  2. Change your present course of action.
  3. Stop you from doing something that is harmful.

The biggest mistake someone with chronic pain can make is ignoring it. Even if modern medical treatments have failed you, there are plenty of drug-free avenues to consider that can not only help you control back pain, but sometimes eliminate it completely.

Consulting a chiropractor is usually free and can help you evaluate your pain and choose the best path forward.

*None of what you read on this website should be considered medical advice. If you make any changes to your life or health regimen because of something you read here, please do so under the guidance of a licensed health professional.

Is My Back Pain An Emergency Or Should I Consult A Chiropractor?