Determining whether your back pain will resolve on its own or if medical attention is necessary depends on the cause and the duration of the pain. In many cases, seeking medical help is not required for the resolution of back pain. In others, it is highly recommended. This article will explore when you should consult a healthcare professional and when you do not need to.

When you should absolutely see your doctor:

There are several types of back pain that require a visit to your doctor. These types of pain are typically caused by conditions such as infections, tumors, fractures, systemic diseases, or issues with visceral organs, like a kidney infection.

Usually, these types of back pain are accompanied by one or more “red” flags. If you experience any of these red flags alongside your back pain, it is advisable to contact your family physician:

1) Sudden loss of bowel or bladder control, resulting in involuntary wetting or soiling, or the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement without being able to do so.
2) Back pain that started after a traumatic event.
3) Back pain that worsens during rest, making it difficult to find a comfortable position.
4) Unexpected and significant weight loss.
5) Increasing loss of sensation or strength in your legs.
6) Presence of fever.
7) Morning stiffness lasting more than one hour.
8) Onset of pain following a medical procedure.

When you do not need to see a doctor…but may still want to.

Most cases of back pain will resolve without the need to consult a doctor. This is because the majority of back pain is caused by tissue overload, leading to injury or irritation. Similar to a sprained ankle, this type of pain typically heals on its own.Specific postures (such as slouching), movements (like bending forward), or loads (such as heavy lifting) often trigger or worsen this pain.

While it is not necessary for the pain to subside, there are several reasons why you may consider seeking medical advice:

1) Confirmation of non-serious causes: It is reasonable to want reassurance that serious underlying conditions are not causing your pain. Your doctor can easily determine this through an examination.

2) Expedited pain relief: If you wish to alleviate your back pain as quickly as possible, a doctor can identify the specific cause of your pain and provide guidance on how to avoid aggravating it further. This can help expedite the resolution of your pain.

3) Prevention of future episodes: If you have experienced a back injury and are unsure of how or why it occurred, seeking professional guidance can be beneficial. Understanding the cause of your injury can help you avoid repeating the same actions that led to it. Continuously engaging in activities that caused the initial injury increases the likelihood of re-injury over time. Healthcare professionals can offer advice on proper posture, body mechanics, and exercises to reduce the risk of re-injury.

Furthermore, most types of back injuries can trigger a series of changes in your spine, potentially leading to future episodes of pain. For instance, a herniated disc can result in excessive stress on the joints, eventually causing back pain. Your doctor should be able to provide you with strategies to minimize these changes and reduce the chances of experiencing future pain.

When you should see a McGill Method Practitioner:

If you experience recurring back pain flare-ups or suffer from chronic back pain, and maybe even tried multiple other therapies or treatments without success, it may be time to consult a McGill Method practitioner. These practitioners have undergone extensive training in identifying the causes of back pain and implementing effective treatment strategies. The McGill Method follows a three-step approach:

1) Find the cause of the pain.
2) Remove the cause of the pain.
3) Restoring the health of the spine.

Countless individuals have successfully overcome their chronic back pain through the McGill Method. For a more comprehensive explanation, please refer to our McGill Method page.


Lower back pain can stem from various factors. In many cases, acute episodes tend to resolve over time without requiring medical intervention. However, even in such situations, it can be beneficial to consult a healthcare professional to expedite the resolution of back pain and minimize the risk of future episodes. If your back pain is accompanied by red flags, it is crucial to seek medical attention in order to receive appropriate treatment. If you find yourself experiencing recurrent back pain flare-ups, it may be time to explore how the McGill Method can assist you in overcoming your back pain.