How Do I Know if my Back Pain is Serious?



Knowing when to see a doctor makes all the difference in the recovery time of a back injury. If severe, back pain can put a person’s life on hold and prevent them from performing their daily activities. Seeking medical help will treat and even prevent further pain from occurring. We encourage our patients to understand when it is time to see a doctor rather than putting it off and further injuring themselves.


Signs You Should See a Back Doctor


Pain that lingers or will not go away

If your pain persists longer than a few days to a week, it may be time to see a doctor. Most mild back injuries can heal on their own, such as a slipped disc. If you have rested, used cold/heat therapy, or taken anti-inflammatories and the pain persists, you should seek help from an orthopedic doctor specializing in the back.

Pain that Travels to Other Parts of the Body

Shooting pain down the back of the leg is a common symptom we see in patients with severe back injuries like sciatica. Your disc could be damaged if you are experiencing shooting pains or pain that travels outside the back.

Numbness or Weakness

If you have numbness in your legs or back it may be time to see an orthopedic surgeon. Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the legs is a symptom of a more serious injury that will need to be diagnosed by a back doctor.


The bladder and kidneys sit close to your lower abdomen and spine. If you have a pinched nerve in the lower spine it could lead to bladder issues, muscle weakness, and other symptoms.

Recent Trauma or Injury

Trauma or an injury to the back is grounds for a trip to the back doctor. If you have been in an accident such as a car wreck, it is important to get a full examination if you are experiencing pain.


Who Do You See for Back Pain?

An orthopedic surgeon specializing in the spine will have the most experience treating all kinds of injuries to the back. Orthopedic doctors with this specialization are required to complete extensive training in your specific back injuries, meaning they will know the proper treatment and get you back to normal as quickly as possible. An orthopedic surgeon will never pressure back surgery on you unless it is necessary, so do not be afraid to see a surgeon for back pain treatments. At Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, we have two orthopedic surgeons who specialize in the back. You can request an appointment with our back doctors in Nashville and Franklin, TN here.

Back Doctors at Elite:

Dr. R. Christopher Glattes

Dr. Colin Crosby

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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