Back Pain: When to See a Spine Specialist

Pain is a sign that something isn’t right, but it’s also complicated to identify and treat. It ranges from temporary pangs of discomfort to chronic pain that has the power to lower your quality of life.

Back pain is a top cause of disability worldwide, yet many people hesitate to seek a professional diagnosis. You may be wondering if your back pain warrants a trip to the doctor. And if it does, is your primary care provider the right person to see?

If you’re living with back pain, it’s not always easy to get the care that’s right for you. Aron Rovner, MD, and our team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery are proud to help people of all ages overcome back pain and injury. Consider scheduling an appointment with our spine specialist.

At the recommendation of your primary care doctor

Most people visit their primary care doctor first when they’re feeling unwell. Primary care providers are trained to identify a range of common ailments, including musculoskeletal pain. 

If you have back or neck pain, your primary care doctor is a great place to start. At your appointment, your doctor begins by reviewing your symptoms and performing a physical exam. They might order additional testing, like an MRI or CAT scan to finalize your diagnosis. 

Acute back pain may not require a visit to a spine specialist. If you have mild-to-moderate pain, your primary care doctor can recommend rest and other conservative treatments to encourage healing.

But if a more severe condition is identified, it could be time to schedule a consultation with a spine specialist. Talk to your primary care doctor about getting a referral to see Dr. Rovner so you can get the care you need.

If your pain lasts weeks, months, or longer

About 90% of cases involving acute back pain resolve within six weeks. So if you’re bothered by back pain for longer than that -- months or even years -- it’s time to see a specialist. Lingering pain may be a sign of a more severe underlying condition.

Back pain is a common complaint, but pain that comes with other symptoms could indicate that you need the expertise of a specialist. Consider visiting us if your back pain is accompanied by:

Back pain that doesn’t go away or is accompanied by tingling or loss of sensation could be a sign of a nervous system condition or spine injury that requires specialized care.

When conservative treatment isn’t enough 

Conservative treatments are the best place to start when you’re first diagnosed with back pain. Rest, physical therapy, and other nonsurgical treatments offer restorative benefits, and these treatments are often enough to relieve temporary back pain.

But when you’ve tried all the conservative treatments and you’re still living with pain, consider seeing a spine specialist to learn more about your other options. Specialists can offer deeper insight into your spine health, offering tailored solutions that go beyond the pain management offered by primary care doctors.

Dr. Rovner offers a range of minimally invasive procedures for people with back pain that hasn’t resolved with conservative treatments. For example, he may recommend lumbar spinal fusion for severe herniated discs or cervical disc replacement for damaged discs.

You don’t have to live with chronic back pain. When the treatments you’ve tried aren’t enough, it’s time to see a specialist. 

We have two offices to serve you in Garden City, New York, and Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Call the New York Spine and Sports Surgery office nearest you today or send us a message.

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