How do I Choose the Best Back Doctor?

Lainie Petersen

If you suffer from back pain, getting medical treatment early can spare you both suffering and the possible consequences of neglecting a more serious medical condition. Choosing the best back doctor usually requires consulting with your primary care physician, working to determine the possible cause or causes of your back pain, and working with your back doctor to determine whether he or she is able to address your condition and reduce your pain.

Identifying the cause of back pain is the first step in finding the right doctor for it.
Identifying the cause of back pain is the first step in finding the right doctor for it.

Your regular doctor can examine you in an attempt to determine whether your back pain is caused by muscle strain, stress, or recent injury or whether there is a more serious underlying condition. If your doctor doesn't believe that he can help you, he can refer you to another physician. Visiting your regular doctor before seeking out the care of a specialist back doctor has two advantages. If your doctor has an idea of what may be causing the back pain, she can more easily refer you to an appropriate specialist. For example, if your doctor suspects that your back pain is caused by arthritis, she may refer you to a rheumatologist. The second benefit of first consulting with your regular doctor is that he knows you and is less likely to suspect that you are seeking medical care for back pain in order to get drugs.

A doctor may need to be consulted to treat back pain.
A doctor may need to be consulted to treat back pain.

If you don't have a regular doctor or she is unsure about possible causes for your back pain, you may need to see more than one back doctor to determine the origin of your pain and its appropriate treatment. You can begin your search for a good back doctor by asking friends and colleagues for recommendations. There are several physician rating services online that may also help you in choosing a doctor. Keep in mind that many specialists don't necessarily advertise themselves as back doctors, but may still have extensive training, knowledge, and experience in treating back pain. In addition to rheumatologists for treating arthritis-related pain, other types of physicians to consider are osteopaths, orthopedists, and neurologists.

When working with a new back doctor, it is important that you feel comfortable with him and feel that he is responsive to your needs and concerns. You may also want to ask him for referrals to non-physician bodywork and health care workers. Many people have had success in treating back pain by working with chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists. Many of these health care professionals work in conjunction with physicians, some even in the same medical offices or clinics. If your back pain is chronic and medical doctors are able to offer only limited help, such alternative modalities may provide you with the relief you are looking for.

Chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists often collaborate with physicians on back treatment plans.
Chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists often collaborate with physicians on back treatment plans.

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