This is a question I hear all the time...actually it is generally phrased "When can I work out?" I wish there was an easy answer for this, but it depends. There are absolute contraindications or Red Flags, meaning you shouldn't exercise until medically cleared to do so. These include:
- It the pain is severe and you are having numbness, tingling and weakness in your leg
- If you have lower back pain after a recent car accident
- If you recently had back pain and now you have changes in your bowel or bladder function, meaning you can't pee, or you are peeing without knowing in, or pooping on yourself without trying.
- If you don't feel well with your lower back pain
- If you have a high fever or you start sweating with your lower back pain
- Develop other problems in addition to back pain, clumsiness...
- If you have had a previous history of cancer or tumor.
You may be thinking, I wouldn't even think of asking that, but I have had a few patients in the past that I recommended they go to the Emergency Room. If you are experiencing any of the above, I recommend the same for you. You may need need some imaging to rule out something serious like a broken bone, infection, or cancer. Of course, you wouldn't want to make any of these problems worse.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week when we will discuss return to exercise in the absence of Red Flags.