As I get older I'm having more aches and pains. For the last two months I've had back and leg pain that doesn't go away. How do I know when I should see a doctor?

More than 80 percent of the adult population will suffer back pain at least once in their lifetime. Usually symptoms are short-lived and go away in 10 to 14 days.

Pain that lasts beyond the expected time of healing is a red flag or warning. Other risk factors to pay attention to include age (under 20 or over 40), history of health problems, and smoking or the use of tobacco products.

Are you having any other symptoms such as fever, sweats, nausea, or vomiting? Are you having trouble finding a comfortable position? Does your pain wake you at night? Finally, even if none of these additional signs and symptoms are present, your own level of concern is an important factor. Whenever anyone has doubt about his or her condition, seeking medical advise is advised.

Molly T. Vogt, PhD, et al. Prevalence of Symptoms of Cervical and Lumbar Stenosis Among Participants in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study. In Spine. June 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 13. Pp. 1445-1451.

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