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To determine the significance or danger of any back pain, your best strategy is to first check with a doctor, such as the spinal medicine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute. If your pain is sharp enough or debilitating enough, seek medical help. But even a doctor will tell you that there are many factors involved in identifying the cause of any sharp back pain, such as:
- Your age
- The location of the pain
- Recent accidents or injuries
If you’re concerned about a sharp pain in your back and you think it’s acute vs. chronic back pain, look for other symptoms. During your visit to your back doctor, you’ll be asked questions that include:
- Do you feel numb anywhere, including that pins-and-needles sensation?
- Are your legs still strong, or have they become unexplainably weaker?
- Do you have the same range of motion as you did before the pain?
- Does the pain move from place to place, such as from your back to your neck?
- Do you have new trouble with bladder control, nausea or headaches?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, visit your back pain specialist as soon as possible. Your doctor uses this information to diagnose and then treat your discomfort. A sharp pain may just be a muscle pull, but it’s best to make sure there aren’t any complications that could worsen your condition.
What Does a Dull Ache Mean?
A dull pain in your back may indicate a number of conditions, temporary or serious. Perhaps you overdid it in your workout. Maybe you didn’t stretch before exercising. Maybe bad posture is finally catching up with you. There are similarities when comparing acute vs. chronic back pain. For instance, it matters:
- Where on your back you feel the dull pain
- If you have accompanying symptoms
- If the pain has just appeared or if you’ve been noticing it for a long time
- Whether you did something to your back recently
Both sharp pain and dull pain can become chronic if you do nothing to treat it. Chronic pain is constant. Irritating or annoying, it’s always there. Pain is considered chronic if you’d been suffering from it for at least three months. Don’t wait for your back pain to become chronic. Have it diagnosed before then.
How Different is Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain?
While the pain itself feels different — sharp pain may stop you in your tracks, but a dull ache can force you to stop participating in normal activities. Both can be debilitating in their own ways. Consider any pain — whether acute vs. chronic back pain — worth taking care of. Back pain can:
- Keep you from sleeping
- Bother you no matter what you try to do
- Stop you from getting beneficial exercise
- Force you to miss out on life’s fun activities
So, what’s worse: acute or chronic back pain? It’s the pain that keeps you from enjoying your life. Acute pain may be a pulled muscle or a broken bone. A dull ache may mean sore muscles or a herniated disc. There are so many diseases and injuries that can happen in your back and it takes a trained doctor to determine the true cause. If you have back pain, make an appointment today with a specialist at the Southeastern Spine Institute.