Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeDoctorWhen Should You See A Doctor For Lower Back Pain

When Should You See A Doctor For Lower Back Pain

How Orthopedic Treatment Can Help

When should you see a doctor for back pain?

Orthopedic spine specialists who don’t have a specialty in orthopedic surgery use non-surgical methods to treat patients who suffer from lower back pain. They specialize in musculoskeletal disorders that affect the lower back in people with sports injuries and other traumatic injuries, as well as disorders and diseases of the spine. They may work with other spine specialists mentioned above to manage the lower back pain and restore movement.

When Should I See A Doctor About Back Pain

Topics in this Post

About 80% of adults experience back pain at some time in their lives. It’s one of most common reasons people see a doctor or miss work. The pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, sudden and debilitating pain.

For most people, back pain is mechanical in nature, which means the elements of your back and how they move together has changed.

Possible back conditions could include:

  • Muscle or ligament strain

    Heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain the muscles or ligaments in your back. Also, if you are overweight or in poor physical condition, the constant strain on your back can cause muscle fatigue and muscle spasms.

  • Bulging or ruptured disk

    Disks are the cushions between the bones in your spine. You can have bulging or ruptured disks that may or may not cause pain by compressing a nerve root and causing pain that radiates into the leg.

  • Arthritis

    Disks may narrow over time and cause your vertebrae to grind together resulting pain.

Most back pain even severe back pain goes away on its own in four to six weeks with self-care, such as rest, heat or ice, over-the-counter pain medication and exercise.

Surgery often is effective to correct a spinal deformity or instability issue. Surgery also is helpful to treat pain radiating down a leg due to compression of a nerve root in the spine if other conservative treatments have failed. However, surgery is not considered a good treatment for generalized back pain.

Topics in this Post

Which Type Of Doctor Should I Visit For Lower Back Pain

From temporary aches to disabling chronic pain, lower back pain affects millions of people each year. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 80% of people will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. There are many kinds of back specialists, so if you’re asking yourself, “Which type of doctor should I visit for lower back pain?,” you’ll want to read on.

You May Like: How Do I Alleviate Lower Back Pain

Whats The Role Of Chiropractic Care

Some doctors refer back pain sufferers to a physical therapist right away. But many people with back pain see acupuncturists, massage therapists, or a chiropractor on their own. Experts disagree about the role of chiropractic care, and there are not many high-quality studies to consult about this approach. As a result, there are a number of questions regarding the role of chiropractic care: Should it be a routine part of initial care? Should it be reserved for people who dont improve with other treatments? Are some people more likely to improve with chiropractic care than others?

The answers to these questions go beyond any academic debate about how good chiropractic care is. Estimates suggest that low back pain costs up to $200 billion a year in the US , and its a leading cause of disability worldwide. With the backdrop of the opioid crisis, we badly need an effective, safe, and non-opioid alternative to treat low back pain.

Specialists That Can Help Your Back And How To Pick One

Why You Should See A Chiropractic Doctor For Your Lower Back Pain

The editors at Health are a dedicated team of experienced health editors, writers, and other media professionals who strive to bring trustworthy and responsible health and medical content to their readers. As a team, we have decades of experience in health journalism and have worked at legacy publishers and some of the biggest news and media companies in the U.S.

Low back pain is one of the most common medical complaints, so family doctors see a lot of back pain patients. But if four to six weeks of painkillers and exercise therapy doesnt help a patient, it may be time for a specialist. Many insurance companies require that you get a referral from a family doctor or another primary care physician before they will cover the cost of a specialist.

Between orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, physiatrists, neurosurgeons, and osteopathic physicians, its hard to know which doctor can best treat your pain.

Each approaches treatment from a different perspective. No treatment is guaranteed to give relief, so your choice will depend in part on your attitude toward the body and medicineand your doctors own philosophy.

RELATED: This Is Why Pain Meds Arent Helping Your Back Pain

Read Also: What To Do For A Stiff Lower Back

What Do They Aim To Achieve

Chiropractic cares primary aim is the removal and prevention of musculoskeletal-related problems. They focus on restoring normal functional movement to the spine and strengthening the surrounding structures.

Physiotherapy primarily aim is to improve the movement and function of your joints and muscles to get you back to normal mobility. They focus on exercises to improve flexibility, mobility and strength.

As you can see their goals are essentially the same.

You’re Having Problems With Your Bowels Or Urination

If your back pain is paired with a loss of control over your bowels or urination, then it’s time to seek help immediately at a local emergency room. These symptoms point to cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves in the lower spine have become paralyzed. While rare, this syndrome can be permanently damaging to the nerves if left untreated. If you experience these symptoms, especially accompanied by numbness in the legs, then you may need surgery to decompress the nerves and preserve their overall function.

Also Check: Can A Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain

Reasons You May See A Rheumatologist

Most of the time, muscle aches, pains, or injuries aren’t serious. But if your joints hurt, and especially if you have signs of inflammation that don’t go away after a day or two, you may need to see a healthcare provider.

Symptoms of inflammation include:

  • Loss of joint function

Usually, in order to see a rheumatologist, you need to get a referral from your primary care provider. They may refer you when:

  • There is no evidence of a back injury
  • Attempts to treat you with at-home therapies , prescription medications, or physical therapy haven’t been successful
  • They’re uncertain what’s causing your back pain but suspect it’s something rheumatological
  • Blood tests for inflammatory markers or certain antibodies yield abnormal results
  • They’ve diagnosed you with a rheumatic condition and want a specialist to manage it
  • You have a family history of a rheumatic or autoimmune condition that may cause back pain
  • You have a chronic pain condition and later develop back pain

You may also be sent to a rheumatologist if your back pain is accompanied by:

  • Pain and inflammation that come and go
  • Fingers that turn blue or ache when exposed to the cold
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Dry eyes and mouth

Some types of arthritis can cause permanent, progressive joint damage. It’s best to see a rheumatologist as soon as possible if your primary care provider suspects one of these diseases, as early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to prevent this damage.

Should You See A Chiropractor For Low Back Pain

When to See a Doctor for Back Pain

If youve ever seen a doctor for back pain, youre not alone. An estimated 85% of people experience back pain severe enough to see a doctor for at some point in their life. Yet despite how common it is, the precise cause of pain is often unclear. And a single, best treatment for most low back pain is unknown. For these reasons, doctors recommendations tend to vary. “Standard care” includes a balance of rest, stretching and exercise, heat, pain relievers, and time. Some doctors also suggest trying chiropractic care. The good news is that no matter what treatment is recommended, most people with a recent onset of back pain are better within a few weeks often within a few days.

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Sudden Lower Back Pain

What Type Of Doctor Specializes In Back Problems

Orthopedists. Orthopedic doctors and surgeons are trained experts in the healing functions relative to the musculoskeletal system. This type of doctor is board certified and can help to treat any issues you may have with pain in the neck, spine, disc-related pain, and other common back pain complaints.

When Should I See A Specialist About My Lower Back Pain

Low back pain often gets better on its own and recovery is often enhanced with over-the counter-pain killers, hot or cold compression packs, and gentle physiotherapy initially.Individuals with low back pain should seek medical attention in the following situations :

  • Very severe pain especially pain to the mid-back around the rib cage
  • Background history of cancer or recent unintended weight loss
  • Difficulty walking or moving the legs
  • Sensation of numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function
  • Loss of sensation in the legs
  • Pain that is not improving
  • If back pain is associated with other concerning symptoms such as abdominal pain
  • Back pain associated with fever
  • Recent severe trauma such as falling from a height

Don’t Miss: What Does It Mean If You Have Lower Back Pain

See The Doctor Or Go It Alone

Should you see a doctor about your back pain or just wait it out? It is never too soon to visit the doctor. If you have pain that persists for more than two days with bed rest, or if you have pain that shoots to your extremities, you need to make an appointment. An early visit can help you avoid more damage and consequently increased pain. Also, if you have a history of back pain or a recurring problem, the doctor can educate you on proper lifting techniques and other body mechanics, and most importantly, educate you on what is causing your pain. Seeking professional medical advice is the best way to find the treatment option that’s right for you.

When Should You Seek Treatment For Acute Or Chronic Back Pain

When Should I See Doctor For Back Pain

Whether you think your back pain is acute or chronic, anytime youre experiencing pain that lasts longer than two weeks without any improvement in symptoms, we strongly suggest you get the care you need.

If you think you need care right away, you can also go to your nearest orthopedic urgent care location.

If the pain is new or you know youve tweaked something, a great place to start is to find a physical therapy location and make an appointment. Our physical therapists will tailor strengthening and mobility exercises to your unique needs, and you can plan on about six visits.

That said, acute back pain will usually heal itself over a few weeks. But chronic pain usually doesnt get better without medical intervention. Why? While home remedies and short-term back pain treatments are helpful, they provide temporary relief and dont address those underlying causes of chronic pain.

So, if youre regularly experiencing signs of chronic back pain, dont ignore it. While chronic pain is long-lasting, it doesnt have to be permanent and you probably dont need surgery. This is where TRIA Neck and Back Strengthening Program, formerly known as the Physicians Neck and Back Center spinal strengthening program can help.

You May Like: How Do You Treat Lower Back Pain

What Are The Treatment Options For Lower Back Pain

Most episodes of spinal pain are self-limiting. A diligent approach to using simple pain killers, physiotherapy and the gradual return to normal activities should be the strategy first employed.Radiofrequency denervation, a minimally invasive procedure, should not be viewed as the first step for managing mechanical spinal pain. Unfortunately, facet joints cannot be repaired or replaced surgically and it is for this reason that radiofrequency denervations are used instead to help with pain arising from spinal facet joints that are not getting better of its own accord with time.

Do not hesitate to book an appointment with Mr Camilleri if you would like to discuss your treatment options for back pain.

What Doctor Should I See For Back Pain

If your back pain is from a recent strain or mild injury, your primary care doctor can probably help. But if the pain is severe, ongoing, or accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness or tingling in your arms or legs, it may be time to see a back doctor. Start with someone who specializes in nonsurgical treatment for back pain. This can include a physiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, or orthopaedic physician assistant. They can evaluate your condition and offer appropriate treatment to help alleviate your pain. Depending on your circumstances, they might also refer you to another type of back specialist — for example, a pain management specialist or spine surgeon.

Read Also: Can My Bed Cause Lower Back Pain

What Is Serious Back Pain

In this blog, when I say serious back pain, I mean back pain that requires a visit to a doctor.

The severity of your symptoms is not the only indicator as to whether your lower back pain is serious. For example, pain from a pulled lower back muscle can be intense, but it will typically subside after a few days of basic at-home care.

See Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain

In contrast, lumbar degenerative disc disease can cause a moderate, dull ache in the lower backthis kind of pain is not necessarily intense, but it may get worse over time without treatment. In these cases, a physician can recommend a long-term treatment plan.

See Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Could Lower Back Pain Be Kidney Pain

Lower Back Pain: When to See Your Doctor

It absolutely can. Kidneys are located on the back side of your body and kidney pain can sometimes feel like back pain. The only true way to tell the difference is to visit a doctor who can conduct a thorough examination.

Back Pain Causes and Treatments Webinar | Stephanie Van, M.D.

Chronic back pain is a persistent source of discomfort for many adults. In this webinar, our expert Stephanie Van, M.D., discusses common causes of back pain along with strategies for relief.

Don’t Miss: How To Help Lower Back Pain

Preventing Back Pain Tips For A Healthy Back

What we do day to day is very important to help keep us healthy and prevent back pain.

  • Keep active regular exercise improves health and reduces recurrent back pain. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate or intense physical activity a week.
  • Manage your stress and anxiety levels.
  • Dont smoke because nicotine decreases blood flow to your back. Back pain is more common and recovery is slower in smokers.
  • If you have recurring back pain, the following may help:
  • exercise regularly people who do regular exercise have less back pain than those who are inactive
  • aim for a weight within your healthy range
  • manage stress and mood
  • ask your physiotherapist or health provider to explore with you the types of movements and activities that are best for you.

How Can Back Pain Be Prevented

In most cases, you can prevent back pain by making changes to your lifestyle.

Doing exercise helps to keep your back flexible and strong. Exercise improves your posture and helps your muscles to support your spine. Exercises that can help prevent back pain include:

  • low-impact aerobic exercise
  • strengthening exercises, such as lifting weights, climbing stairs or hiking hills
  • stretching exercises, such as Pilates and yoga

Maintaining a good posture is important when you sit at home, in your workplace, or in your car. Try not to slouch, and use equipment that supports your back, such as a lumbar support or footstool if you need.

Keeping a healthy weight is also important. Excess fat can strain your back and lead to back pain, sciatica and inflammation.

Practise safe lifting in your home or workplace. Whenever you pick up a heavy load, squat down, hold the object close to your body, and lift with your legs.

In addition:

  • Quit smoking Smoking increases your chances of developing persistent back pain.
  • Relax Learning relaxation techniques and mindfulness can help to reduce stress and muscle tension in your back.
  • Avoid high heels wearing high heels can place strain on your back.

Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Aching Back Pain

Indications For When To See A Spine Surgeon For Low Back Pain

Low back surgery is only capable of correcting anatomical conditions that result in either spinal instability or nerve pinching. If either of these problems is present on an imaging study and the patient’s symptoms fit with the clinical and radiographic picture, then spine surgery may be indicated. If there is no identifiable anatomic cause of a patient’s low back pain , then back surgery is not an option. If non-surgical treatments fail to alleviate a patient’s pain, this is not in and of itself an indication for having spine surgery. There must also be an anatomical lesion that can be identified as the cause of the patient’s low back pain.

See Surgery for Lower Back Pain

The decision on whether or not to undergo back surgery for low back pain is almost always the patient’s decision. Only in rare instances – such as cauda equina syndrome or an abdominal aortic aneurysm – is immediate medical attention required. The spine surgeon should be able to give the patient enough information about the pros and cons of the procedure to assist the patient with his or her decision making process. A spine surgeon who be either an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon that specializes in spine surgery.

See Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Treatment

Important factors that patients may want to consider prior to seeing a spine surgeon for their low back pain include:


Most Popular