Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s profile on chronic back pain shares the following eye-opening data. Back pain the leading cause of work limitations. Almost 65 million Americans say they’ve had a recent episode of back pain. With 83 million lost days of work per year, back pain is also the primary cause of work-loss days.
Devin I. Rubin’s “Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain” says approximately 15 to 20 percent of adults have back pain in a one-year period. It’s clear that back pain is common. Fortunately, back pain can get better within a few weeks without treatment. It does not always require seeing a back specialist. But there are instances when it’s time to see a back and pain doctor.
When to See a Doctor for Back Pain
Write down the list of symptoms and the severity of each. Someone experiencing the following typically won’t need to see a spine specialist:
- Pain is minor
- No signs of weakness
- Pain controlled with over-the-counter medication
- Lifestyle adjustments are minor
For these symptoms, it may help to check in with a primary physician. The physician may recommend a wait and see approach
If the patient experiences these symptoms, then it’s time to call a spine and back doctor:
- Pain gets worse or is constant and unbearable
- Walking properly is a struggle
- Foot drags on the floor
- Feels any weakness, numbness, or tingling in legs
- Can’t sleep due to pain
- Struggles to do job or parent
- Bladder or bowel problems
- Unexplained weight loss
When contacting the back and spine doctor’s office, describe the symptoms. They’ll provide advice on the next steps to take. At the appointment with the back specialist, they’ll ask about the patient’s medical history and symptoms. They’ll also ask about how back pain affects the patient’s lifestyle.
What Are the Potential Treatment Options for Back Pain?
Patients have more conservative treatment options today. The treatment options depend on the diagnosis. Many things can cause back pain. It can be a simple muscle pull from an injury. Often, back pain treatment begins with taking anti-inflammatories. In some cases, the patient may see the primary care physician.
The physician may suggest physical therapy or prescribe muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories. They may advise visiting a chiropractor.
If the pain worsens and the initial treatment options don’t work, the next step is to contact a back and spine specialist. Conservative spine therapy options are still available at this point. A spine doctor has the tools to do an evaluation to determine the cause and potential treatment options.
No doubt, back pain can interfere with daily activities. It does not mean you have to live with it for months or for the rest of your life.
If you’re in doubt about whether to seek medical advice, please contact us or call 214-823-2052. Our staff will listen and let you know if you need an appointment. We have two convenient locations in Addison and Dallas. Patients come from Plano, Frisco, Garland, and other cities in the DFW metroplex.