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When to See a Specialist for Back Pain

  • Category: Blog
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  • Written By: Fox Valley Orthopedics
When to See a Specialist for Back Pain

When to Seek Treatment for Back Pain

Millions of people experience back pain at some point in their lives and, in many cases, can manage it with basic self-care measures. However, there are times when it’s essential to see a specialist for back pain to prevent further damage and to protect your spine health.

Use the following questions to learn when it’s necessary to see a specialist.

How Long Have You Experienced This Pain?

Often, patients put off addressing their back pain because they expect it to subside within a few hours or days. Many resolve to try at-home remedies to take care of the issue on their own.

However, prolonged back pain can be a telltale sign of a more severe and chronic issue. Generally, you should seek treatment for your back pain if you’re experiencing symptoms for a week or more. If your condition worsens or you are in excruciating pain, don’t hesitate to seek treatment.

What is the Severity of Your Back Pain?

Just as some patients delay treatment for their pain, they also downplay their pain to avoid going to the doctor. This can wind up damaging their health and causing more pain down the line in the long run. If the back pain is severe or doesn’t improve after a few days of self-care measures, it’s important to see a specialist.

Do You Have Additional Symptoms?

Back pain can indicate a deeper issue — or in some cases, illness. Back pain may not be the only symptom present when an accident occurs. If you experience back pain and other symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting, it’s essential to seek help from a specialist. Additionally, your pain may not simply stop at your back but may also link to other body areas, such as your neck.

Degenerative Issues

General aging and day-to-day wear and tear of your joints are perfectly normal. But over time, this process can lead to painful back conditions that significantly affect your daily life.

While they can cause discomfort, degenerative conditions generally evolve, making it vital to see a doctor if you suspect their presence.

Common degenerative conditions that could impact your back include:

  • Slipped or herniated disks
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis

Common symptoms include:

  • Limited range of motion
  • Sudden pain that worsens or chronic pain
  • Pain with movement
  • Visual spinal deformation
  • Nerve injuries like sensory loss or overall weakness

Do You Have Trouble Completing Activities?

For many patients, back pain can be debilitating. This may mean that you’re unable to keep up with some of the daily activities or tasks you’re used to — both at home and on the job. You might even see problems in your relationships with your family and spouse impacted due to the frustration of not having the pain-free movement you once enjoyed.

If you cannot participate in your regular activities because of back pain, it’s time to see a specialist.

Were You in an Accident?

From a slip and fall to a car crash, being involved in an accident can be a traumatizing and painful experience. You should be adequately examined no more than 72 hours following an accident to ensure that you have not suffered a significant injury from your incident.

While many back pain symptoms may show up in the days following an accident, some may linger or take longer to appear. Suppose you begin feeling pain after your initial doctor’s visit. In that case, you should return to your specialist for further evaluation and see if additional treatment options could help you regain your mobility.

Identifying Whiplash

One of the most common injuries that can affect your body after an accident and cause pain in your neck and back is whiplash. Whiplash is a term used to describe a form of neck strain that occurs when the head suddenly snaps forward.

While commonly associated with car accidents, any sudden movement of the head and neck can cause whiplash. Engaging in high-impact sports like boxing, football, horseback riding, and others can lead to whiplash, too. The onset of several symptoms can help you determine if you have this condition. These include:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision

Continuously monitor your symptoms for a few days after an incident to rule out any potential for whiplash. If you think that you may have whiplash, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment.

Back Pain Relief

While there are some at-home remedies available to help ease your back pain, such as dietary changes, routine exercise, and pain-relieving yoga poses — these options will not be able to diagnose and properly treat your pain. If you feel ready to take control of your back pain after asking yourself the above questions, you should seek treatment as soon as possible.

Experienced Orthopedic Care in Illinois

At Fox Valley Orthopedics, we know that you are too busy to slow down for back pain. That’s why we offer numerous non-invasive treatments to help you live a pain-free life.

If you have been dealing with aches and pains that have lasted for more than a week, don’t put off getting help another day. Call (630) 584-1400 today to schedule your appointment.