When should you see a spine specialist for your neck, back or spine?
There are more than 120 medical specialties and subspecialties, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, ranging from abdominal radiology to vascular surgery. While this makes it easier to find a doctor that specializes in specific problems, having so many specialists can make it harder to choose a practitioner to care for a general problem. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a doctor for a neck, back or spine problem.
Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, about 80 percent of people experience low back pain at some time, according to the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke. About 10 percent of the population is suffering from neck pain at any given time. The causes and treatments of low back pain can be vastly different from the causes and treatments of neck pain – or they can be the same.
The word “backache” is a general term for discomfort occurring anywhere from the base of your skull to your buttocks. Even the word “backache” can mean different things, from a sharp pain to a dull ache to numbness. Symptoms can affect your neck or shoulders, the center of your back or your lower back. In some cases, symptoms of a spine, neck or back problem can affect your arms and legs.
This is because the neck, back, spine and limbs are connected, so conditions affecting one part of your back can cause symptoms elsewhere. Your spine is a column of bones, known as vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. Rubbery discs cushion the vertebrae to prevent the bones from grinding against each other, but these discs can bulge or deteriorate. Strong muscles help you bend, twist, and move your neck, back and waist in nearly every direction. Nerves that extend from your brain to the rest of your body emerge from tiny holes in your vertebrae; tissue swelling or bulging discs can press against nerves to cause pain and other symptoms.
So, what sort of doctor should you see when you have a backache?
Many people start by going to their general practitioners or a pain management specialist when they have sustained a back injury, have an unexplained backache, or have a backache that does not get better over time. Both doctors can perform a medical evaluation, order diagnostic tests, recommend physical therapy or chiropractic, and prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications. Both can adequately provide care for most, but not all, types of neck, back and spine problems. Pediatricians can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for children suffering from neck, back or spine problems.
Certain specialists can treat some types of neck, back and spine pain. Rheumatologists treat arthritis affecting the spine, for example, while neurologists focus on treating problems affecting the nerves. A spine specialist can diagnose and treat nearly every condition affecting the neck, back and spine.
When to See Your Hoboken Spine Specialist
You should see a New Jersey spine specialist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Unrelenting pain that radiates down your arm or leg
- Pain that persists even after more than a week of treatment
- Back pain accompanied by weight loss, fever, chills or night sweats
- Weakness or disability in an arm or leg that previously functioned well
- Loss of urinary bladder control or bowel function
Spine specialists can provide a new diagnosis, confirm a previous diagnosis, and treat neck, back and spine problems. Treatments include minimally-invasive procedures, motion preservation surgeries, spine regeneration techniques, and more. Our surgeon will have an in-depth conversation about the risks and benefits of any recommended procedure or surgery.
SPINE/RX: The Center for Spine Repair and Regeneration provides advanced spine care and modern spine surgery solutions. Our procedures are often completed same-day, are less invasive, and have shorter recovery periods. We offer a full spectrum of modern surgical options to relieve neck and back pain, regardless of their causes. Our goal is the same for every patient we see: to use the most minimally invasive procedure, to achieve the most definitive results.
Our Hoboken spine specialist, Dr. James Dwyer, has the training, expertise and advanced technology needed to diagnose and treat backaches, neck pain, spine pain and other symptoms associated with the spine. For more information on neck, back or spine problems, make an appointment with Dr. Dwyer using our online form or by calling 201.596.3735.