The Long-Term Effects of Back Pain If Left Untreated

When a few days of back pain turns into weeks or months, it could mean that you are dealing with more than minor discomfort. Back pain seems to affect every area of your life. You don’t realize how much you use your back until you start experiencing pain in even the most mundane daily activities: washing the dishes, getting in the car, brushing your teeth, or working at the computer.

Even the smallest movements can cause your pain to flare, making it hard to get through the day. For some people, back pain has become a “normal” way of living. The pain is constant, so these people don’t know life without the discomfort.

If you’ve been experiencing back pain for a while, then know that this pain is anything but normal. It’s important to work with a pain management team so you know when to push through the pain vs. when it’s time to take it easy or seek pain management treatments.

Types of Back Pain

Before you can decide what to do about your back pain, it can help to distinguish the different types of back pain that often occur. Most back issues fall into two categories: acute pain or chronic pain.

  • Acute Back Pain: When the pain starts suddenly and unexpectedly, then it is usually categorized as acute back pain. These issues are typically short-term, and will heal with time. Common causes of acute back injuries include things like over-exercising, improper lifting, or awkward movements affecting the back. Most of the time, back pain is classified as acute in the beginning and stays in this category if the pain subsides within a few weeks. This category of back pain doesn’t result in a long-term or serious problem to your health.
  • Chronic Back Pain: The most serious type of back pain is a chronic condition that lasts for more than six weeks. These symptoms are so severe that they affect your quality of life, mobility, and overall health. Chronic back pain can start suddenly and never go away. Or, if might gradually increase in intensity. Some people have chronic back pain that flares for a while, then subsides before the pain intensifies again in the future. For example, you might find that a new injury or overexertion triggers the pain because they affect underlying causes.

Regular occurrences of back pain, or pain that never goes away, are indications that you should talk to a pain management specialist. Over time, the continuous pain can result in reduced quality of life, limited movement, and declining health.

What Does Your Back Pain Feel Like?

When you are talking to a doctor, it’s helping to describe the type of pain you are experiencing. This information makes it easier for the doctor to find an accurate diagnosis and root cause for your condition.

Most back pain symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Burning, shooting, or aching pain in the back area.
  • Pain that returns after common home remedies, such as medications, massage, or ice therapy.
  • Stiffness or tightness in the back, especially after standing, sitting, or laying for a long time.
  • Difficulty sleeping because of pain or discomfort in the back area.
  • Weakness, numbness, or radiating nerve pain in one or both legs.

Negative Consequences from Untreated Back Pain

What happens if you don’t treat chronic back pain? Here are some of the unfortunate long-term effects that can occur:

  • Limited Activity: If you are hurting, then it’s hard to find the motivation to exercise. Even the smallest movements become limited because you are in pain when you are walking or moving. Some patients find that the pain subsides when they sit or lay down, which leads to a sedentary lifestyle – and can result in a domino effect of other health issues.
  • Disability: When the pain is severe, then it can result in temporary or permanent disability. For example, nerve damage can cause weakness that limits a person’s ability to stand up or walk.
  • Loss of Bowel and Bladder Control: When the underlying causes of back pain are severe, it can eventually lead to a loss of bowel or bladder control. The nerves connected to the spine also manage the function of the bowels and bladder. If this issue happens, then you should consult with a specialist without delay.
  • Ongoing Discomfort: Not only do you have back pain, but the ongoing discomfort can also affect other areas of your body, such as the legs, shoulders, buttocks, neck, and arms. This never-ending pain takes a toll on your overall quality of life.

Signs You Should See a Doctor for Chronic Back Pain

You might be able to get by with back pain for a while, but eventually the pain reaches a point where you need to consult with a doctor. Whether you have sudden back pain or chronic pain that isn’t going away, the next step is to reach out to a specialist for personalized care.

Acute back pain might heal naturally within a few weeks. But, most types of chronic back pain won’t go away without medical treatments. The only way you can find relief is by addressing the underlying causes that are resulting in your back pain.

Keep in mind that early treatment is often the best solution for reducing back pain. If you are proactive about working with a pain management doctor, then you can avoid some of the long-term effects that can happen because of back pain.

Relief for Back Pain: Pain Management Specialists

Chronic back pain doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your life! If you want to reduce the pain and improve your living, then reach out to our team of pain management doctors. We have solutions to help with back pain and other types of chronic health issues.

When you choose our team, you can have confidence knowing that we always design a personalized treatment plan to match your unique needs. Schedule a consultation with us at Texas Partners Healthcare Group to learn more about the ways we can help.