Lower Back Pain and Fever

You Can't Ignore It

Any time you or a loved one are having lower back pain and fever, it is a sign that there may be something wrong. Knowing how to assess a fever and how to manage a fever will help you decide when a trip to the emergency room is needed.

"less than 100.4 degrees"

The normal adult body temperature is 98.6 degrees. But this can vary between individuals, and it can also be affected by activity levels, and environmental conditions. Most clinicians do not consider an adult temperature less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit significant.

After a person has been very active, or after they have been in a hot environment, they should rest in a room temperature room for at least an hour, before checking their temperature. If they feel ill, have them lie down, loosen any tight clothing, and remove excess clothing.

"do not check the temperature for 10 minutes"

If you are using an oral thermometer, they may have something to drink if they are thirsty, but do not check the temperature for 10 minutes after drinking anything hot or cold.

increase your risk of serious infection"

Certain conditions may increase your risk of serious infection. Things like poorly controlled diabetes, obesity, drug abuse, or HIV/AIDS, can lead to a weakened immune system, causing you to be more susceptible to infections.

A large infection anywhere in your body can increase your temperature, and sometimes the location of an infection, even a serious infection, is not obvious. So your doctor will start with a physical exam.

"abnormal findings will guide further evaluation"

He will listen to your heart for any irregularities. He will listen to your breathing to assess your lungs. He may listen to your abdomen or back. He may inspect your arms and legs searching for any areas of tenderness, or swelling, or decreased range of motion.

After the exam, any abnormal findings will guide further evaluation. He will probably order labwork to test your blood and urine. He may order x-rays, an MRI or other studies to better evaluate any suspicious finding on the physical exam. The list of things that can cause a fever is long, and the investigation may be extensive, before a conclusion can be reached.

"infections of the various structures"

When you are having lower back pain and fever, they may, or may not, be related. If you believe that your back pain is related to your fever, or if your back pain is new and began after your fever, you should inform your doctor. If you have had back pain for a long time, but it got suddenly worse after your fever started, your doctor will want to know.

The most common causes of lower back pain and fever would be infections of the various structures in and around your back. Things that must be considered would include:

  • Osteomyelitis, an infection of the bones.
  • Discitis, an infection of the disc space.
  • Abscess, an infection in the muscles in the back.
  • Meningitis, an infection in the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.

"depend on your doctor’s suspicions"

Assessment of these conditions would probably begin with an x-ray, an MRI, or a lumbar puncture. It would depend on your doctor’s suspicions after performing the history, physical exam, and labwork evaluation.

Anytime a person with lower back pain and fever complains of a stiff neck, meningitis must be considered, especially in children. Meningitis is an infection of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. It may cause upper back pain, stiff neck, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. When symptoms of this disease are present in children, they require immediate evaluation.

"chronic autoimmune disorder without a cure"

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine. It can cause pain and stiffness, as well as fever. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic autoimmune disorder without a cure. Symptomatic treatment, controlling the posture and exercises can limit the side effects of this disease.

After evaluating your lower back pain and fever and no source of your fever is revealed, your doctor may continue to search. He may begin evaluations for things like a metabolic disorder, neoplastic disease, or infections elsewhere in the body.

"less common in children"

A kidney infection or other urinary tract infection may cause body aches, lower back pain and fever. These types of disease are less common in children. Infections of the upper and lower urinary tract are usually easy to resolve with oral antibiotics.

If your back pain continues to be significant, and the studies have revealed no serious diseases that may be causing your pain. You may be started on some conservative back pain treatments such as anti-inflammatories or a mild narcotic to manage the pain, and physical therapy to help increase your activity level. Again, and I can't stress this enough, your doctor will have to make these determinations after seeing you and in light of your overall medical condition.

"it does need to be evaluated by your doctor"

If you are having lower back pain and fever greater than 100.4 degrees, it does need to be evaluated by your doctor. It may be something simple that can be easily treated, or it may be something serious. But if it is something serious, you risk permanent injury and disability if you choose to ignore it.

Maybe these can help:

Back Pain Treatments

Return from Lower Back Pain and Fever to Causes of Back Pain

Return to Living with Back Pain


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