More than 30 million Americans are experiencing back pain at any given time, making it one of the most common health conditions. Almost four out of five Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, but almost 90 percent will see their symptoms resolve within six weeks. However, for an unfortunate seven percent, that back pain will become a chronic issue.
Primary Care Doctor vs. Back Pain Specialist
Whether your back pain is acute or an ongoing condition, you probably want the best care you can get. While your primary care doctor probably sees back pain cases on a regular basis, it is unlikely that they have the advanced training and expertise that someone who specializes in back pain possesses. That is why you may want to get a referral from your primary care physician to visit a back pain specialist, also known as a pain specialist. Due to the complex nature of pain, a pain specialist can help guide and direct the various care options while mitigating medication prescribing risk.
Types of Specialists
The back is a complex network of bones, muscles and nerves that can easily be injured, producing a wide variety of pain conditions. That is also the reason why there are so many different medical specialists that work on back pain cases. Some may focus on physical therapy or pain treatment, while others offer surgical solutions; each one is specific to a particular type of back pain.
One of the first specialists you are likely to see is a physical therapist. These allied health professionals will work with you to help tailor a personalized therapy program that should reduce your pain as well as strengthen your back to help prevent future injury. They may also administer therapies like trigger point massage, electrical stimulation or ultrasound.
Pain Management Specialist
If you do not respond to physical therapy, your doctor may recommend that you see a pain management specialist. These physicians have specialized training in pain cases of all types and can offer insights into your back pain that other doctors cannot. Their advanced skills also grant them a better chance of accurately identifying the root cause of your back pain. They can recommend a treatment program and work with a team of doctors and health professionals to implement it for maximum efficacy.
If your pain is neurological in nature, i.e. related to the nervous system, then one of the pain specialists you may want to consult is a neurologist. A neurologist is an expert in health conditions that involve your brain, spinal cord and nerves throughout your body. They can perform a variety of tests that will identify the neural tissue involved in your back pain, as well as the most reliable therapeutic options to remediate pain symptoms.
Although you may not realize it, one of the most important back pain specialists is a behavioral therapist. Although the back pain you feel is very real, your brain may be making those pain sensations more intense by adding stress or inducing insomnia. A therapist can train you to control thought processes that are detrimentally impacting your pain symptoms.
Finally, there are surgical specialists who may perform invasive procedures that correct painful health conditions. Orthopedic surgeons can perform procedures that correct musculoskeletal injuries. Neurosurgeons may perform procedures on the nervous system.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees. The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship. Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA and you should not post any of your private health information.