When to See a Spine Surgeon for Low Back Pain

It is almost inevitable that people will at some point experience an episode of low back pain at one point in life. While such pain can cause a disruption in your day to day activities, it soon disappears after a week or two through non-surgical care. When such pain occur, most people are left wondering if they require spine surgery and at what point they should consult a spine specialist. It is recommended that before consulting a spine surgeon, lower back pain should first be handled by a primary care physician or a chiropractor. This is because there are instances where such pain is mild and may not require specialized spine care. The primary care physician can recommend medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain. The doctor can also recommend physical therapy and refer you to a chiropractor. If the situation improves and the pain disappears, you can be able to resume normal daily activities without requiring spine surgery. Physical therapy is an effective way of addressing low back pain and other spinal problems. Some basic physical therapy activities include improved posture and regular exercise.

Conservative Care for Spinal Problems
If the condition of the patient does not improve after consulting a primary care specialist or chiropractors, there are other spinal specialists specifically trained to rehabilitate musculoskeletal problems without having to undergo spine surgery. Physiatrists for example are trained in dealing with musculoskeletal problems and there are many of them specializing in spinal care. This kind of specialization works in an almost similar manner that cardiologists specialize in cardiac care or the way neurologists specialize in neurological problems. Within the medical community, physiatrists collaborate with spine surgeons to effectively carry out their medical practice considering that they are more specialized than a primary care physician or a chiropractor. Most recently, physiatrists are gradually venturing into interventional pain medicine where they are professionally trained to carry out procedures such as injections and other diagnostic techniques. By combining clinical procedures such as injection, diagnosis and physical exam, physiatrist can be able to trace the source of low back pain.

When to See a Spine Surgeon
Spine surgery is meant to correct anatomical disorders that either causes nerve pinching or spinal instability. If an imaging study or a radiographic picture indicates any of these problems, then spine surgery might be recommended. If there are no indications of any anatomical problems that could cause low back pain, then spinal surgery is not an option. There are instances where minimally invasive spine surgery might fail to improve the situation. However, this is not an indication that one needs to undergo a full spine surgery. Whether or not to undergo a full surgical procedure is the prerogative of the patient. It is only under rare circumstances such as when the patient has abdominal aortic aneurysm or cauda equina syndrome that immediate spine surgery is necessary. The spine specialist should therefore assist the patient in the decision making process by detailing the benefits and the downside of undergoing a low-back surgery. The patient should first take into consideration whether conservative care in relation to low back pain is improving the situation. If not, then it is time to consult a spine surgeon. Another important approach to take when deciding whether to see a spine surgeon revolves around whether one can be able to carry out daily activities even with the low back pain. It is important to understand that undergoing the surgery has its downside and the long-term effects of such a procedure could be detrimental to one’s health.

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