How to Determine if Your Lower Back Pain is Serious

Article featured on Southwest Spine & Sport

Lower back pain affects millions of people worldwide. While most cases of lower back pain are not serious and can be treated with self-care measures, some cases may require medical attention and more advanced treatments.

What are some of the causes of lower back pain?

There are many causes and types of back pain, from acute to chronic.

Common causes of lower back pain include:

  • Muscle strains occur from lifting heavy objects, sudden movements, or poor posture.
  • Herniated discs occur when a spinal disc ruptures or slips out of place. (This can also cause symptoms like leg pain and numbness.)
  • Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs in the spine begin to wear down over time. (This may also cause numbness and tingling.)
  • Spinal stenosis happens when the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the nerves in the spine. (This can also cause leg pain and weakness.)
  • Osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage in the joints begins to wear down, causing pain and stiffness.

What are the signs that my low back pain might be serious and require medical attention?

Low back pain frequently resolves on its own after a short healing period or when you stop engaging in the actions that cause it.

However, some signs indicate that your lower back pain may be serious and require medical attention. These include:

  • Pain that’s severe and doesn’t improve with rest or self-care
  • Pain that’s accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chills, or difficulty urinating
  • Pain that’s accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs
  • Acute pain after an injury or accident

No matter what kind of low back pain symptoms you’re experiencing, Dr. Wolff can evaluate your case, medical history, and overall health to determine the underlying cause and develop a personalized treatment plan for optimal pain relief and improved quality of life.

What can I do to alleviate lower back pain before my appointment?

There are also self-care measures you can use for lower back pain relief, such as:

  • Maintaining good posture
  • Engaging in regular exercise to strengthen core muscles
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Using proper lifting techniques during workouts
  • Using ergonomic furniture

The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, foot and ankle conditions, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic and podiatric surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.



1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

8:00am – 4:30pm