Dispelling the Myth of a ‘crumbling spine’
25th September 2017
Sad face to happy face truth about back pain
The truth about back pain
13th December 2017
Dispelling the Myth of a ‘crumbling spine’
25th September 2017
Sad face to happy face truth about back pain
The truth about back pain
13th December 2017
Show all

Should I Go To A&E with A Bad Back?

x-ray of upper back vertebrae

Back pain can be terrible, and often when you have it you are not sure what to do, everything hurts and it can be scary. In this article we’ll cover a bit about back pain but more importantly when you should go to A&E .


Your first port of call, if you are struggling with back pain that is not getting better, should be your Physiotherapist or Doctor, but there are a couple of occasions when heading to A&E is the best option. A&E should be just that, for severe accidents or emergencies.  So in terms of lower back pain, what would be classed as a real time to visit A&E?

  1. If you have had severe trauma to the spine – we are talking about falling from a height, having a car accident where the car ends up on it’s roof or was spun around multiple times, a rugby scrum collapsing on top of you, or anything similar.
  2. If you have back pain and have signs of an infection such as a fever/temperature of 38 degrees C or above.
  3. If you have alteration to your bladder or bowel control, difficulty weeing or unable to control your bowels.
  4. If you have numbness or tingling in the region of your genitals or back passage area and possibly can’t feel when you wash or wipe yourself there.
  5. If you have persistent pins and needles in all four limbs.

These cases could be classed as emergencies and may need urgent treatment so please do attend your local A&E department.

Now if you are in severe pain but do not have any of the above, it may be more applicable to try to use pain medication yourself at home, and if that is still not working you can contact your out of hours GP, or call the NHS on 111.  They can then offer you direct advice

Back pain is a widespread issue in the UK – in fact, the UK Government’s ‘Fit for Work’ programme lists it as one of the most common reasons for work-related absences.  Back pain, including  upper back vertebrae pain, can affect people of all ages and is usually linked to the way that your bones, ligaments and muscles work together.


In your back, there are 24 small bones (called vertebrae) and these form a protective shield around your spinal cord, and also support the weight of your upper body. Your back also contains shock-absorbing discs (called intervertebral discs), and many ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscles which make the spine an incredibly strong structure.


There are various symptoms of back pain, and these can include an ache or pain anywhere on your back, as well as pain into your buttocks and the bottom of your ribs.  Back pain can sometimes be difficult to treat as it is often difficult to determine precisely what has caused it.  It can develop gradually in a situation where there is no apparent cause.  This is termed non-specific back pain.


The list of things that can cause back pain is quite varied as well. It is often almost impossible to say whether the pain is originating from a problem with the bones, joints or soft tissues around the spine. It can be caused by sustained unhelpful postures in your daily life or everyday activities that you are undertaking in a less efficient way, such as lifting, standing for long periods of time, driving in a hunched position or even stretching.  Other contributing factors to back pain can be stress-related tension or lack of sleep (yes really). Read our Truth about back pain article for more on this.   Serious spinal conditions such as fractures, tumours and infections are thankfully extremely rare and generally have other signs.

Help and Advice

Most back pain tends to get better on its own, over a matter of days to weeks or months, but you may want to seek help from a Physiotherapist or Doctor for the following reasons:

  • you want to know what is wrong
  • the pain doesn’t start to improve
  • the pain gets so bad it prevents you from undertaking your typical day to day activities
  • the pain gets very severe or worsens over time
  • you are struggling to cope with the pain.

If you are still in pain, but don’t feel you need to go to hospital please click here to view our How to relieve acute lower back pain article.

If you are suffering from upper back vertebrae pain or lower back pain, then we can help. You can contact us today by telephone on 01625 422 825 or book an appointment online.

Call Now