When to See a Surgeon for Back Pain

There is a good chance you will suffer with some type of back pain at some point in your life. It is an unfortunate reality for millions of people.

Usually you end up suffering back pain due to muscle strain from excessive physical activity. This occurs frequently when you put too much pressure on your back muscles when lifting. It also occurs because you may attempt to move an object, such as a couch or other large object, incorrectly. Back pain is also common during and after pregnancy.

The correct way to lift objects would be to bend one’s legs at the knees and primarily use the leg muscles to lift, rather than the back. Sometimes you simply need to do some moving or help a buddy on a Saturday afternoon. By Sunday
morning, though, your lower back may be in agony. This is the most common back pain and generally will resolve on its own with a bit of rest and ibuprofen for a day or two.

However, you may wonder when to see a surgeon for back pain. Everyone is a little different, but in general, if your pain has lasted more than two weeks, you should consider seeing a surgeon or spine specialist.

More urgently, though, if your pain is extraordinarily painful, shooting down an arm or leg, or if you’ve lost control of bowel or bladder, you should see a doctor immediately. These could be serious conditions that require medical intervention at once.

Pain that shoots down an arm or leg usually indicates some sort of nerve involvement and doesn’t respond well to over the counter medications. Chiropractic adjustments can assist in maintaining nerve function and can tell if your vertebrae are in danger of misalignment, keeping your spine, and body, functioning at peak performance. Chiropractors do not perform invasive procedures or prescribe drugs.

You will know when to see a surgeon for back pain if your chiropractor takes an x-ray and it reveals a fracture, a cyst or tumor, or other situation that requires surgical intervention. Keep in mind that an x-ray will not reveal soft tissue injuries. If an x-ray appears normal and you are still in pain, a surgeon will most likely order magnetic resonance images of your painful areas. These types of images, better referred to as MRIs, will show soft tissue damage, injury or abnormality.

When these images reveal discs that are so out of place that they press directly on nerve roots, surgery may be indicated. This is generally the most common cause of severe back pain with radiating pain down a leg or arm, depending on where along the spine the dislocation is. Less commonly, but not unheard of, a cyst or tumor can be the cause of pain.

Your chiropractor or other health care professional will know when to see a surgeon for back pain and will refer you to one. Knowing that optimum spinal health offers optimum overall health, chiropractors are on your side.