Back pain is a widespread health condition, so much so that eight in every 10 people experience upper, mid, or lower back pain at some point in their lives. For Black individuals, however, the journey to seeking medical help can be influenced by cultural, social, and historical factors. Research suggests that Black individuals are less likely to receive the best healthcare, pain medications, and access to pain specialists and are often misperceived about the severity of pain.
In this article, we’ll explore five key indicators that it’s time for you to prioritize your health and consult a doctor if you are suffering from back pain. Your well-being matters the most and understanding when to seek medical attention can make a significant difference.
Five signs that it’s time to see a doctor:
1. Persistent Pain that Hinders Daily Activities
While you shouldn’t worry about occasional mild discomfort, consistent and disruptive back pain is a red flag that should not be ignored. In the Black community, where strong work ethics and family responsibilities often take precedence, it’s crucial to recognize when your pain is preventing you from fully engaging in daily activities. If your back pain is becoming a barrier to work, family time, or leisure activities, it’s time to discuss it with your doctor.
2. Radiating Pain, Numbness, or Tingling
Back pain that spreads down to your legs and is accompanied by sensations of numbness or tingling might be indicative of nerve compression. It could result from a simple daily routine like improper ergonomic sitting style or sometimes a more complicated phenomenon like a compressed disc in your backbone.
Understanding these nerve-related symptoms is essential so you can be your advocate while seeking medical help from your doctor. Consulting a doctor in time can help prevent potential nerve damage and ensure that you receive appropriate care, taking your unique circumstances into account.
3. Changes in Bowel or Bladder Function
Having a loss of control over your bowels or urination in addition to back pain, is a sign of a more severe issue, such as Cauda Equina syndrome, in which the nerves in the lower spine get paralyzed. While this is a rare condition, it can cause permanent damage to the nerves if not treated.
Despite systemic obstacles, advocating for your health is paramount. If you notice any difficulties controlling urination or defecation, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional promptly to receive the necessary tests and treatment options.
4. History of Trauma or Injury
In many cases, back pain might be linked to a past injury or trauma. For Black individuals, acknowledging and addressing these experiences can be complex due to cultural norms around strength and resilience.
However, seeking medical help for lingering pain from an accident is essential to rule out serious problems like