Please choose one of the links below to learn more about a specific spinal condition.
When should you see a doctor?
There are a few signs that may indicate serious spinal problems. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Loss of control of the bowel or bladder, or retention of urine, may indicate potentially dangerous damage to the spine's cauda equina nerves. The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves in the low back where the spinal cord ends. Damage to these nerves can be permanent if not treated aggressively. This problem should be seen the same day by a spine specialist or by an emergency room.
Weakness or numbness in a leg or arm, especially if it is severe or getting worse also points to nerve damage. This includes "foot drop," a condition where the muscles of the leg and foot are too weak to raise the foot up as the individual attempts to walk. Again, nerve damage associated with these symptoms can be permanent if not treated immediately. This problem should be seen within 24 hours by a spine specialist.
Any numbness, pain or tingling that radiates into an arm or leg is also a source for immediate concern and should be seen within 24 hours by a spine specialist.
High fever accompanied by back pain, may indicate a possible infection of the spine and should be seen within 24 hours.