If your back pain isn’t responding to conservative treatments like the use of a heating pad, ice pack, or over-the-counter medications, you may be referred to a spine specialist or spinal surgeon for further evaluation. This does not mean surgery is necessary in your immediate future, as the role of a spine doctor is to provide a more accurate assessment of your pain and clearly present your available options, some of which may not involve surgery at all. Even so, there are steps you’ll want to take to be as prepared as possible for your visit to a spine doctor:
Be Descriptive of Your Pain
Even if your regular doctor has suggested a possible source of your back pain, there may be other contributing factors that a spinal specialist is more qualified to diagnose. Some types of back pain, such as non-specific low back pain, can be notoriously difficult to diagnosis and this is where the expertise and experience of a spine specialist comes into great importance. Be very descriptive when talking about your pain with your doctor. Discuss the times when it seems to happen and what you are usually doing when your discomfort is especially noticeable. Sciatica is just one potential source of back pain that tends to be affected by movement, so such descriptions can be useful when trying to identify pain patterns. Consider keeping a journal to document your experience with your back pain.
Have an Open Mind
A spine doctor may suggest other possible sources of your pain based on your medical history and what symptoms you’re presenting. Keep an open mind even if an initial diagnosis isn’t something you initially suspected. Before making a firm diagnosis, however, image tests will usually be performed to confirm a suspected source of pain or rule out specific conditions. In some cases, there may be no one definitive cause of your back pain; when there is, you’re still likely to have a wide range of treatment options, including some you may have tried before. Such treatments may become effective if you receive an accurate diagnosis and the treatment is applied with the specific direction of your spine specialist.
If you’re concerned about forgetting what you want to ask, write down some questions before your visit. This is why keeping a journal of your pain comes in very handy, as you can also jot down questions as they come to you in your journal. Any reputable spine doctor will encourage you to ask questions and gladly provide honest, thorough answers. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification of anything you don’t understand. The more you understand about your back pain, the more likely it is you’ll make a smart, well-informed decision about your treatment.
Do Your Own Research
Do some exploring of your own if you have an idea of what may be causing your back pain. Common causes are disc herniation, disc degeneration (degenerative disc disease) due to old age, and arthritis of the spine (osteoarthritis). However, some form of muscle strain may also play a role in how you experience pain. Doing some initial research will, at least, give you a better idea of where to focus your questions. If you have a herniated disc, for instance, you may want to ask if you’d be a good candidate for some of the newer minimally invasive techniques if you were to opt for surgery. This website contains a great deal of information on various spinal and spine related conditions as well as various treatment options.
If surgery is recommended, you’ll likely have time to weigh your options, seek additional opinions, and consider other treatment possibilities before making a final decision. If you are located in the New Jersey area, consider a consultation with top New Jersey Spine Surgeon Joshua Rovner. Contact Dr. Rovner here: http://www.newjerseyspinesurgeon.com/contact