Should I Seek Professional Attention for My Back Pain?

The majority of adults have back pain at some point in their lives. If that time is now, how do you tell if you need to seek medical attention, or whether the pain is temporary and is going to disappear? 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons, pain management physician, and physiatrist at The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. treat both minor and serious back pain problems. Depending on your symptoms, we do a physical check to determine where you're sore, range of motion tests, sensation, and reflex tests. We may need to order X-rays, MRIs, or a CT scan.

Our doctors perform other cutting-edge techniques for low back pain and for pinched nerves. We perform EMG/NCS, an electrical test of nerves and muscles to diagnose patients with pinched nerves. 

We also perform spinal epidural and radiofrequency procedures as well as PRP epidurals, the latest regenerative technique for low back pain with and without radiation into patient extremities. 

Types of problems that cause back pain

The causes of back pain are legion. From muscle strain to fracture to tumor, from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis, from spinal stenosis to spondylolisthesis, back pain has a wide range of etiologies. 

Your board-certified orthopedic surgeon at The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. performs physical tests and other imaging checks to get to the root cause of your pain. 

Sometimes the cause of back pain may be obvious. If you overdid it at tennis, golf, gardening, other yard work, or activity where you were bending and twisting, it’s likely your back muscles and tendons are sore. An over-the-counter pain reliever should help you feel better.

When to seek medical attention for back pain 

Following are the situations when you should call the doctor if you have back pain

Trauma

If you’ve had a fall or have been in a car accident and over-the-counter medication doesn’t ease your back pain, it’s important to see a specialist. You could have suffered a back fracture or have nerve damage. 

Severe pain that doesn’t resolve with over-the-counter medication

If your back pain doesn’t have an obvious source, such as vigorous sports play, and doesn’t resolve in a few days with over-the-counter pain medication, it’s time to see the doctor. You may simply need a muscle relaxant to unknot muscles that have bunched up and won’t unfreeze. 

On the other hand, it could be something more serious and chronic that’s developing. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you’ll feel better. 

Chronic pain that doesn’t resolve

The definition of chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than three months. However, when you have back pain that’s causing you to change your daily habits, you should see the doctor if it doesn’t resolve after six weeks.

Why six weeks? Up to 90% of back pain resolves within six weeks, so unless it’s severe, intense pain, doctors recommend waiting that long. 

Numbness or tingling

If you have a mixture of pain along with numbness or prickly tingling in your back, these symptoms may signal nerve damage caused by a herniated disc or other nerve-related condition. 

History of fractures/osteoarthritis

If you have osteopenia or osteoarthritis and are susceptible to fractures, it’s important to seek medical help to determine if you do have a fracture. 

Fever

Back pain accompanied by a fever could signal a systemic infection. Any time you have a fever that doesn’t resolve, it’s time to seek medical help. 

Call or book online with The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. if you have unresolved back pain or other musculoskeletal problems. 

 

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