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Which Doctor To See For Lower Back Pain

Which Kinds Of Doctors And Specialists Treat Lower Back Pain

7 Best Lower Back Pain Relief Treatments – Ask Doctor Jo


Physiatrists are also known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physicians . They are musculoskeletal specialists³ who can provide diagnoses, sometimes with the aid of ultrasound and electrodes if needed.

Additionally, physiatrists can offer treatment options such as prescribing medications or formulating a non-surgical treatment plan. They take a holistic approach and ensure you are physically capable of progressing through the treatment options they prescribe.

Physical therapist

While physiatry sounds similar to physical therapy, there are distinct differences. Unlike physiatrists, physical therapists do not diagnose or formulate a non-surgical treatment plan.

As they have a good understanding of common musculoskeletal ailments, physical therapists can create restorative exercises and treatment plans for patients. They can also apply TENS, heat and cold therapies, which can be great for an instant, short-term relief for lower back pain.


Rheumatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating arthritis and other diseases that affect joints, muscle, and bones.

There might be concerns that your back pain stems from arthritis, e.g., ankylosing spondylitis. Rheumatologists can diagnose and initiate the appropriate treatment for your condition.


This specialist knocks you out before surgery, but thats not their only job. They also specialize in pain management, so they can be a valuable addition to your back pain care team.

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.

Back Pain Treatment At Home

The good news is that, given time, most back pain gets better on its own. Over-the-counter pain medication may help ease your symptoms. You can also try applying hot or cold packs to reduce your back pain. Both heat and cold stimulate the nerves so use whichever you prefer and see what works best for you. Doctors more commonly recommend heat to relax tight muscles, but you may find ice reduces swelling. Use your heat or cold pack for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Dont apply the heat or cold treatment directly to skin. Rest and avoiding activities that especially put strain on your back may also help while you heal. However, doctors dont generally recommend bed rest when your back hurts.

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Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain

There are three major lifestyle factors that may affect your chances of developing lower back pain:

  • Multiple studies have established a link between smoking and lower back pain. Smoking raises inflammation inside the body and hinders the body from healing itself.
  • Obesity is also associated with several types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. In people with high body mass index , the stress on the spine increases, contributing to even more wear and tear.
  • Your level of physical activity can also play a role in your lower back health. While a sedentary lifestyle could increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so can excessive or strenuous physical activity. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ideal level of physical activity.

Types Of Doctors That Might Treat Your Back Pain

Male Doctor Therapist Treating Lower Back Pain Patient In Clinic Stock ...

Back pain seems to be a problem that plagues so many, so it can be easy to operate under the assumption that treatment is relatively interchangeable. There are actually many different types of doctors that specialize in more specific areas of treatment when it comes to back injury or chronic pain.

It is important that you seek help from the correct type of doctor if you want your pain addressed in the most expedient and thorough fashion. Here is a more in-depth look at the most common types of spine doctors and how they might be able to help you with your pain.

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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.

Acute Lower Back Pain Treatment

Most acute lower back pain is mild and settles with simple treatments. Treatment usually depends on the cause and might include:

  • A few days of physical rest. It is not considered good to rest for more than a few days otherwise the lower back muscles will stiffen and even cramp, which will make recovery difficult.

  • Simple treatments like hot or cold packs, physical activity, exercise and physical therapy.

  • Pain medications like anti-inflammatories and anti-spasm medications to provide pain relief.

If the cause of the pain has been treated but the pain continues and is long lasting , debilitating and has not been responding to treatments an assessment should be made by a pain management specialist physicians, who can assess and treat most types of chronic pain including chronic lower back pain.

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What Do Doctors Do For Back Pain

Ready for some relief? Its no fun living with chronic lower back pain, and once youre ready to say, I want to find the best lower back doctor near me!, youre on the first step to living a better life. The pain management specialists at the Pain Treatment Specialists will first listen to your concerns, and then determine a care plan that best fits your current condition, level of pain, and diagnosis. Our Ivy League-trained doctors have a wide variety of non-surgical options to provide patients with long-lasting relief from chronic lower back pain. Some of the teams treatments include:

  • Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation: This treatment involves electromagnetic waves that travel at the speed of light. The wave, which is a form of heat energy, is delivered precisely to the nerve endings that radiate pain. For patients who have not experienced success with nerve blocks or injections, lumbar radiofrequency ablation provides a longer-lasting option of increased mobility and pain reduction.
  • Lumbar Facet Injection: This treatment inject a small amount of local anesthetic or numbing medicine into small joints around the vertebrae. This numbs the facet joints, blocks pain, and provides relief from chronic lower back pain.

Common Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

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If something is not right with your back, youll knowback painVerified SourceMedline PlusOnline resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health.View sourceisnt known for keeping secrets. However, it may be worthwhile to keep tabs on your symptoms so that you can clearly articulate details about your pain to your doctor if need be. Typical symptoms of lower back pain include:

  • Pain that travels down to your butt, legs, and feet
  • Increased pain with activity
  • Persistent back pain upon waking
  • Muscle spasms

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A Recent Study On Chiropractic Care For Low Back Pain

A 2018 study published in JAMA Network Open is among the latest to weigh in on the pros and cons of chiropractic care for treating low back pain. Researchers enrolled 750 active-duty military personnel who complained of back pain. Half were randomly assigned to receive usual care while the other half received usual care plus up to 12 chiropractic treatments.

After six weeks of treatment, those assigned to receive chiropractic care:

  • reported less pain intensity
  • experienced less disability and more improvement in function
  • reported higher satisfaction with their treatment
  • needed less pain medicine.

While no serious side effects were reported, about 10% of those receiving chiropractic care described adverse effects . Five percent of those receiving usual care had similar complaints.

How Does An Orthopedic Surgeon Treat Back Pain

An orthopedic surgeon focuses on correcting musculoskeletal impairments that affect the bones, joints, and muscles. When it comes to back pain, there are many types of orthopedic procedures for patients needing surgical intervention. Below are the most common types of orthopedic surgeries for back pain. Treatment recommendations depend on the underlying cause of your back pain.

Lumbar Spinal Fusion is commonly recommended for patients with a misshapen or unstable spine . It can also be used to treat patients with nonspecific or chronic back pain due to degenerative changes to the spine that have failed non-operative care. The surgeon fuses certain spinal bones to prevent excess movement in the spinal vertebrae to alleviate back pain with minimal impact on the patients physical activity

Laminectomy is a standard procedure for patients with a narrowing spine or lumbar spinal stenosis. The surgeon removes the abnormal structures of the musculoskeletal system, such as bone spurs or ligaments, to alleviate pain and weakness. Its common for laminectomy patients to require spinal fusion as part of their back pain treatments.

Disc Replacement involves the removal of damaged or herniated spinal discs for replacement. Installing artificial discs in the spine can help improve stability and movement and prevent pain. This procedure carries lower risks of patient movement restrictions than spinal fusion surgery.

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Lower Back Pain Symptoms

Your symptoms and level of pain may range from mild and manageable to severe and complex. Its important to talk with your provider about your symptoms to create a customized care plan.

You can help your provider make an accurate diagnosis by describing the location of your pain, as well as the type of pain you experience. For example, your pain may be characterized as aching, burning, dull, electric, stabbing, sharp, etc.

The most common symptom of lower back problems is discomfort when standing, walking, or while performing everyday activities.

You’ve Been In Pain For Over A Week

Back Pain: When to See a Doctor

Most back pain will subside after a few days, but if you’ve been experiencing pain for over a week, then it’s time to call a doctor. Your doctor will perform any examinations or tests required to help get to the bottom of your pain before it could become a bigger problem. As is the case with many health conditions, prevention and addressing problems early is key.

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Why Go To An Orthopedic Doctor For Back Pain

Most us will experience back pain at some point in life. While most back pains resolve on their own or with conservative treatments, some need serious medical attention. Back pain may be a sign of a serious condition, and it will progressively get worse if left untreated.

If your back pain is not getting better and is limiting the activities you can engage in, see an orthopedic doctor. Why go to an orthopedic doctor for back pain? Why cant your primary care physician just treat it? Orthopedic doctors have specialized knowledge, training, and experience in diagnosing, treating, and preventing musculoskeletal pain. While a primary care physician can treat a plethora of health issues, an orthopedic doctor can do it better.

What Causes Lower Back Pain And When Should I Get Help

Orthopedic back and spine treatment usually starts with conservative approaches that include pain management, physical and occupational therapies, and rehabilitation. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reminds us that chronic back pain can get worse if left untreated, so it’s important to visit a doctor early on who can start you with the right treatment.

Some of the most common causes of lower back pain include:

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Why Go To An Orthopedic Doctor

There are a variety of medical doctors who treat specific sets of conditions. Because it is impossible for one physician to treat all types of conditions and injuries that affect the human body, doctors specialize in subfields of medicine. Through this specialization, a physician becomes an expert in a distinct subfield of medicine and can diagnose, treat, and prevent issues within that subfield. One such field is orthopedics.

An orthopedic physician is an expert on the musculoskeletal system . Because back pain is most often caused by injury or damage to one of these components in the back, orthopedic physicians are often referred to for diagnosis and treatment.

Using advanced education and training, orthopedic physicians can pinpoint the exact cause of the back pain. Back pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, including a fracture, herniated disc, muscle strain, or damage to connective tissue. Orthopedic doctors can correctly diagnose the exact cause of the back pain and recommend effective treatment for it.

Orthopedic physicians have access to state-of-the-art and advanced medical technology and treatments that are proven to be effective for musculoskeletal issues. Because of this, when a patient has back pain, orthopedic physicians can offer treatments that will give fast and effective results. Using various methods for pain reduction, which include injections, medication, and physical therapy, orthopedic physicians can offer long-term relief from back pain.

Can Back Pain Be Prevented

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Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy

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Help Which Doctor That Specializes In Back Pain Is Right For Me

There are clearly many different types of doctor that specialize in back pain. All of them focus on different types of back pain, different causes of the pain, and different types of treatment options. These are important factors to consider when you are deciding where to seek medical help. We understand that it can be difficult to try and know where to start, and it may feel frustrating as you try different options, seeking to find one that helps you.

We recommend trying a pain treatment clinic.

A pain treatment clinic is a one-stop shop for understanding and treating back pain. The clinic houses a number of different medical specialists, who are all highly trained in different areas, but all function as pain doctors, to relieve your pain. They will help you to diagnose the cause of your back pain, and work with you to find a treatment option that is likely to help, and suits your preferences.

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:

  • Stiffness
  • 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:

  • Skin rashes
  • 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.

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The Mri Will Likely Be Looked At By A Surgeon

Often, a like Dr. Dowdell will review a patients MRI results and come up with the next step in their treatment, which may or may not be surgery.

My job as a spine surgeon is not only to do surgery but to diagnose people properly and get them to the right doctor if surgery isnt going to be helpful, he says. Some patients are frustrated when I say surgery wont help them, but it would be worse if I did surgery, and it didnt help or made things worse.

Dr. Dowdell says that surgeons sometimes recommend non-surgical treatments, too, such as injections, which not only can provide relief but help them determine where the pain is coming from.

Even if surgery is the recommended next step, know that you may be able to have a minimally invasive procedurethat is, one that results in less pain and complications and a quicker and easier recovery.


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