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When Should You Seek Medical Intervention for a Bad Back

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Most people experience back pain at some point in their lives. It’s often short-lived, but when it isn’t, it can cause a major disruption to your daily life. In fact, back pain is the leading cause of disability.

Back pain that doesn’t go away, only to return sometime later is a clue that you need to see a doctor.

Dr. Evan O'Brien is a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon at Woodbury Spine in Woodbury, New Jersey. We provide a patient-centered approach to spine care and offer a full range of services to diagnose and treat disorders of the spine.

Back pain is a common complaint, and if you’re dealing with it, you may wonder when you should see a specialist.

In this post, we discuss the warning signs that your back pain may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires medical care.

What causes back pain?

Various issues can cause back problems, such as pressure on nerves or muscle injuries. These issues can make your back hurt, feel weak, or experience abnormal sensations. Some of the most common causes of back pain are:

  • Herniated disc

  • Degenerative joint disease

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Injury

  • Sciatica

When back pain lasts longer than 12 weeks, it’s considered chronic. Many people continue to function with mild back problems and may try over-the-counter pain relievers to ease pain, but watch for the signs and symptoms of serious back problems.

Signs you should see a doctor about your back issues

As a rule of thumb, you should seek evaluation for any ongoing back pain or back pain accompanied by other symptoms. Here are some signs it’s time to see us at Woodbury Spine:

  • Persistent or recurring pain

  • Abnormal sensations such as tingling or numbness

  • Pain shooting down your arms or legs

  • Reduced mobility

  • Reduced flexibility

  • Balance problems

  • Weakness

  • Nighttime pain

  • Intense pain

Never ignore back pain. Left untreated, back pain can worsen and increase the risk of permanent nerve problems.

Preparing for your appointment

Once you decide to take the first step to see a doctor about your back pain, prepare for your appointment by identifying general details about your symptoms. We want to know specifics about your pain and how it feels. Pain can be described as dull, sharp, shooting, stabbing, burning, or achy.

Be prepared to describe where in your back you feel pain and whether the pain travels to other areas, such as down your arms or legs. We also want to know how often the pain occurs, such as whether it’s constant or intermittent and whether it gets worse or better when you change position.

Make note of whether a certain activity or exercise triggers symptoms or makes them worse. Other important details include when the pain started and what treatments, if any, you’ve tried to obtain relief, such as over-the-counter pain medicine.

Relief from back pain

Helping you attain effective pain relief is our No.1 priority. Back pain patients who visit us at Woodbury Spine receive a comprehensive evaluation followed by an individualized treatment plan.

Your specific treatment recommendations depend on various factors, including the type and cause of your back pain and your medical history. Treatment options include:

  • Medication

  • Physical Therapy

  • Steroid Injections

  • Facet joint nerve blocks

  • Transforaminal epidural injections

  • Interlaminar injections

  • Caudal injections

  • Sacroiliac blocks

  • Radiofrequency ablation

  • Surgery

  • Minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery through a 7 mm incision.

  • Minimally invasive spine surgery with a tube system through a 20 mm incision.

  • Open spinal surgery through standard midline incisions.

  • Spinal fusion surgeries anterior, lateral, and posterior approaches.

The first step to pain relief is visiting Woodbury Spine, so we can determine the source of your back or neck pain.

If you’re struggling with symptoms like neck pain, back pain, or limb weakness, rely on our top-quality providers at Woodbury Spine to get to diagnosis your condition.

To get started, contact our office to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. O’Brien. Pain relief is within reach.

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