See Your Doctor Immediately for These Back-Related Symptoms
You can self-manage most episodes of back or neck pain, but the following warning signs may indicate more serious problems that your doctor needs to check:
You can’t control your bowel or bladder. If you suddenly lose control of your bowel or bladder, see your GP or go to your local hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department immediately. Bowel or bladder problems include the following:
You can’t control or initiate urination or bowel movements.
You have no feeling in your groin and/or anal area.
You’re male and you can no longer get an erection.
Your legs or feet are weak. If you experience significant weakness in your legs and feet, see your GP or go to A&E within 24 hours.
Your back or neck pain awakens you at night. This type of pain – called rest pain – involves severe throbbing and aching that worsens with rest.
You experience significant trauma such as a car accident or a fall. If you suffer a significant trauma that causes or contributes to your back or neck pain, you need to see your GP or go to A&E.
Your pain is excruciating. If your back or neck pain is simply unbearable or your pain increases significantly, see your GP or go to A&E immediately. Excruciating is a subjective term, but if your pain’s so bad that you can barely move or you’re on the verge of tears, don’t be tough – have the pain checked out.