What To Do If You Have Back Pain
Fortunately, most back pain gets better relatively quickly and there are simple things that can be done to recover and reduce the chance of pain returning. Its important to keep doing your normal work or daily activities, or return to doing these as soon as you can. You can use heat or ice packs, pain relief medication and exercise or massage if these reduce your pain. Read more about treatment options for back pain.
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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.
When Should I See A Doctor About Lumbar Back Pain
With lumbar back pain being so prevalent, its a dilemma you are likely to faceshould you go see a doctor for the pain, or should you wait it out at home? Most cases of back pain will resolve with time, but as a spine surgeon, I think its important that people understand when a visit to the doctor is warranted. Sometimes it may be to help you avoid a potentially dangerous situation other times it may be to prevent you from suffering in pain unnecessarily. Here is some information to help you make that decision.
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Sensations That Might Indicate A Medical Emergency
1. Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.2. Radiating pain: This pain moves or shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.
3. Sudden weakness in the legs: Limb weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine due to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. However, sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.4. Incontinence: Back pain paired with inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.5. Numbness or pins and needles in the groin or glutes: This is known as saddle anesthesia and is also a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.
If you have leg weakness, incontinence, and numbness together, you might have cauda equina syndrome, a serious illness characterized by spinal cord nerve damage. This is a medical emergency, and patients usually need surgery immediately to decompress the nerves and reduce permanent damage.
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Pain That Keeps You Up At Night
Back pain that keeps you up at night, or gets worse when you rest, is generally not life-threatening. That said, it’s best to get it checked, especially when accompanied by fever.
Back or neck pain with fever may be a sign of an infection such as meningitis. Infections can get serious, fast, so don’t delay that call to your doctor prompt diagnosis and treatment may save your life.
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How To Explain Your Back Pain To Your Doctor
Being in pain is . . . well, painful. But it can also be frustrating and annoying. When your pain is affecting your mood, your activities and your overall quality of life its time to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. But how do you explain something thats so overwhelming? Follow these guidelines for ways to effectively explain your back pain to your doctor and get the treatment that you need to get back to normal.
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Start With A Physiatrist
Unless you need to see a primary care provider for a referral, Dr. Dowdell suggests visiting a physiatrist as your first step. A physiatrist is the primary care doctor of the back, he explains. are fully focused on diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal issues, so they may have more specialized knowledge than a PCP. Even if youve already told your family doctor about your back pain, its a good idea to talk to a physiatrist nextespecially if whatever youve been trying isnt working.
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Back Pain With Treatment/no Improvement
Continued pain, trouble with movement, difficulty with daily activities
The doctor will ask questions about the pain and compare it to notes from previous visits. They will also examine the person, asking them to move into different positions, if possible.
If the person has not had imaging for this episode of back pain, when first seeing their doctor, X-rays or scans may be ordered. They may have repeat or another type of imaging if they have different or worsening symptoms.
The doctor may recommend that they continue with previously prescribed treatment. Or, they may change the current treatment, or add something else to it. They may also refer the person to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. A follow-up visit will be scheduled.
The Best Pain Management Doctors
Now you know when to see a doctor for back pain, lets look at best pain doctors NYC and NJ to help you. The goal of a specialized pain doctor is to make you feel comfortable and get you back to full health without the risks associated with unnecessary surgery and narcotics. Before committing to surgery, consider having a consultation with our Harvard pain doctors NY and NJ. Lets take a look at the team:
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Back Pain: When To See A Doctor
Generally speaking, if you have severe back pain that doesnt improve with rest or which doesnt subside within a week of home treatment, you should be checked out by a healthcare professional. If your back pain is due to a fall, an accident or a blow to the back, you should see a doctor immediately.
Also, if you have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for a spinal fracture, such as osteoporosis, you need to see a doctor immediately if you experience back pain. Your doctor will make sure that theres no structural damage or conditions that require immediate treatment.
Sometimes back pain can point to a serious medical problem.
Red flags for back pain
If you have back pain and experience any of the red flags below, you should see a doctor as soon as possible:
- Bladder or bowel control problems
- Numbness in the groin or in the vicinity of the anal region
- Weakness, numbness or pins and needles in the legs
- Pain running down one or both legs
- Feeling unsteady on your feet
- Increased pain when lying down
- Pain that wakes you up at night
- Pain thats unrelated to movement
- Pain thats localised in the upper back
- A history of prolonged corticosteroid use
- A history of intravenous drug use
- A history of urinary tract infections
- In a child: any severe back pain that persists for more than three days
Questions to ask your doctor
The following questions will help you to make the most of your doctors visit:
Yellow flags for back pain
Chronic back pain, depression and suicide
Red Flags And Worrying Symptoms
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have back pain and:
- numbness or tingling around your bottom or genitals
- difficulty peeing
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- weakness of any leg or foot muscles
- a high temperature
- unexplained weight loss
- a swelling in your back
You should also see a doctor if your back pain doesnt get better after resting or seems to get worse at night.
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Potentially Serious Back Pain Symptoms
You might be thinking that you can’t go to the doctor every time you have a slight ache or soreness. We’re here to help you determine when seeing a doctor is the right choice.
Here are five signs you should see a doctor for your neck or back pain:
1. Your pain doesn’t go away or you have shooting pain down your arms or legs
Back pain will usually go away with some over-the-counter medicine and rest. But, if you have pain that lasts for more than two weeks, if the pain keeps you from performing daily activities or if you have shooting pain down your arms or legs, its time to see your doctor and find out what’s going on.
2. Weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms and legs
Keep track of the areas that tingle, feel weak or go numb and be sure to tell your doctor. Numbness and tingling could be signs of nerve irritation or damage. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage, explains Dr. Saleh.
3. Nighttime pain
Keep track of your back pain intensity. If your pain worsens at nighttime, it could be a sign of something more serious.
4. Fever along with back pain or weight loss
A fever that is over 101 degrees Fahrenheit with persistent pain can be a sign you have an infection, Dr. Saleh says. Tell your doctor if your back pain is accompanied by a fever or if you experience sudden, rapid weight loss without actively dieting.
5. Problems with balance or controlling your bowels or bladder
When To Go To The Doctor For Back Pain
Each one of us has experienced back pain at some point in our lives. It is one of the most common complaints seen at out-patient or hospital settings. Back pain has an enormous impact on the population. Back pain may be acute or chronic. It may occur in a single episode. However, about 55-90% patients report of remission of back pain after 1 year.
It is the leading cause of restricted mobility, permanent disability and work absences in various parts of the world. Back pain subsequently has a significant impact on the quality of life of patients.
According to studies, low back pain is commonly seen among people in the third decade of life. Prevalence increases with age and gradually subsides after the age of 60-65 years. Studies report an estimated 50% of adults worldwide experience back pain.
Among the Indian population, people belonging to low socio-economic groups are required to undergo heavy physical work. This increases the risk of having back pain and disability. This article will help you understand why you may be having back pain, risk factors and when to go to the doctor for back pain.
Environmental and hereditary factors influence the development of back pain. People at higher risk of having back pain are
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When To See A Spine Specialist For Chronic Back Pain
Sometimes back pain comes on quick, and you know exactly what caused it. After some stretching, resting and pain relievers, you’ll remember to bend with your knees next time.
But, other times, people experiencing back pain are often left thinking: I don’t even remember when the pain started or what I did to cause it. The reality is that the source of you back pain may not always be evident which can also make it hard to know when it’s time to see an expert.
Dr. Hwang says the following five signs likely indicate that it’s time to see a spine specialist for your back pain:
1. Your pain is severe. While some back pain is only mild to moderate, severe back pain is when your pain is constant, intense or gets worse when you’re resting or at night.
2. Your pain is persistent. If your back pain lasts longer than three months, it’s considered chronic and may require a tailored treatment plan.
3. Your pain isn’t isolated to your back. If your pain is traveling down your leg, you have numbness or weakness in your hips or legs, or you’re experiencing tingling in your legs and feet, it may be a sign that there’s pressure on your spine.
4. Everyday activities have become difficult. If your back pain is already affecting routine activities, don’t let it get so debilitating that it keeps you from doing things you enjoy.
- Find a Houston Methodist spine specialist that can treat your back pain at a location convenient for you
Tingling Numbness Or Weakness In Your Arms Or Legs
If you notice tingling or numbness that doesnt go away, these symptoms along with weakness in your arms or legs could point to nerve irritation or damage in your spine. Herniated discs and spinal stenosis can put undue pressure on your spinal nerves causing a pins-and-needles sensation. When left untreated, these conditions can lead to prolonged or permanent disabilities. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
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When To See A Surgeon For Low Back Pain
Almost everyone will experience at least one episode of acute low back pain at some point in his or her life. While these episodes can be extremely painful and cause significant disruption in one’s life, most episodes of low back pain will get better with time and non-surgical care.
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Many patients with low back pain wonder if they will need back surgery and if and when they should consult a spine surgeon . For most instances of low back pain, its advisable to start off with a physical exam by the family doctor or from a chiropractor before seeing a spine surgeon.
- A primary care physician can prescribe medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , or for severe episodes of low back pain, non-narcotic pain medications , or a short course of narcotic pain medications. They can also order physical therapy and refer to a chiropractor.
- A chiropractor typically specializes in using mechanical means to alleviate the patient’s low back pain, including an adjustment or one of many modalities.
How Common Is Back Pain
If youre like most Americans, youll probably have back pain at some point in your life. Four in five adults suffer from low back pain. Luckily, most back pain goes away within one to two weeks. But if your pain is long-term or chronicand if you have certain symptoms with your low back painyou may want to see a spine specialist.
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Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
When Should I See A Doctor For Back Pain
When your back first starts to hurt, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and applying ice in the first 48 hours. You may apply heat after 48 hours. You may need to take it easy for a while, but its best to stay as active as tolerated, and to avoid absolute bed rest, said Dr. Guo.
If your back pain lasts more than two weeks and keeps you from participating in normal, daily activities, see your family doctor. If your pain is severe, you should see a doctor sooner. You should seek urgent medical care if you have:
- Fever associated with back pain
- Back pain after trauma
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Loss of strength in your arms and legs
- Unexplained weight loss associated with back pain
Also, always be more cautious if you have special risk factors for cancer, infection, or fractures that may affect the spine.
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What Kinds Of Conditions Does A Chiropractor Treat
I mainly see spine-related conditions. This includes pain in the low back, called the lumbar spine, the upper back, called the thoracic spine, and the neck . Some of my patients have had a recent injury while others have had pain for many years. Common causes of spine pain include disc problems and muscle spasm. Many patients have leg or arm pain or headaches in addition to back or neck pain. Chiropractors often work with other parts of the body, too knee injuries, shoulder injuries, things like that but my main focus is on the spine.
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Home Treatment For Back Pain
While it is important to know when to see a doctor for back pain, in many situations, home care is all that is needed. The best home treatments are the classic ones that have been around for ages: over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol®, Aleve®, and Motrin®, along with hot and cold compresses. Heat increases blood flow to the area allowing for the influx of healing cells and for increased outflow to help remove the extra fluid that may cause swelling and pain. Cold decreases blood flow, preventing swelling from too much fluid in the injured area.
Also, it is important not to stay in bed immobile. Start with gentle but regular movements such as trips out of bed or the chair and walk for a minute or two depending on the pain level. Gradually increase movement as the pain allows. This is one of the most important activities for complete and rapid healing.
Before giving some general guidelines to help the pain sufferer decide when to see a doctor for back pain, it is important to note that anyone with questions, concerns, or who just does not feel comfortable managing back pain at home should make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to be evaluated.
So, one answer to when to see a doctor for back pain is anytime a patient is unsure about home treatment or has questions. There is never a reason to avoid getting professional advice from one of the orthopedic/back pain specialists at the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey.
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