Do you know what are the key questions to ask your spine doctor? When you first meet with a spine doctor, you will, of course, want answers to your most pressing concerns including the cause of your back pain, prognosis for recovery, and available remedies. You may expect that one of the best spine doctors will have all of the answers to your most pressing questions, and they might, but it is still in your best interest to come prepared.  Ultimately, you want relief from your back pain, but diagnosis and treatment may be an involved process, so you want the right information to guide you.

Your spine is a delicate network of bones, nerves, muscles and connective tissue that can easily be injured.  Even minor misalignments may produce serious, long term health conditions, so determining the cause of the discomfort may not be completed at the initial meeting.  In many cases, the cause may be immediately apparent to a seasoned spine doctor, but there are many more which may require a series of sophisticated, diagnostic evaluations.

That is why should be prepared for a comprehensive evaluation which may involve X-rays to identify bone issues or MRIs for soft tissue injuries. It is also very important that you honestly share any medical information related to the condition so that the physician can make a fully informed diagnosis. Even if your spine doctor is able to collect information from you and various tests, they may not be able to immediately determine the source of the pain.  If this is the case, you should ask the physician if they can narrow the condition to a class of conditions like herniated disc or arthritis.

If your doctor is confident about the nature of the condition, the next challenge is pinpointing the location of the problem. There are 33 vertebrae in the neck and spine, each interacting with nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments.  An injury to one of these may quickly produce pain in a much larger, more diffuse region, which makes identifying the actual source of the pain problematic. If your spinal specialist is having some difficulty in locating the source of the pain, you may wish to ask about more invasive diagnostic procedures like a facet joint injections or radiofrequency rhizotomy.

Once your physician is confident about the nature of the problem, you probably want to discuss your long-term prognosis. You should know that almost 80 percent of the public will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and most of these people fully recover. If the spine doctor indicates that the injury is not a serious condition, you should discuss in detail what are the most effective treatment strategies.

If the condition is more severe, you will want to discuss more intensive medical intervention including surgical options.  If an invasive procedure is required, you will also need to discuss pain management techniques to help you cope with the pain before and after the procedure.  It is in your best interest to discuss less risky pain therapies like physical therapy or lifestyle changes before you consider riskier methods like surgical intervention.


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.