Back pain is one of the most common complaints reported by adults today. It is the leading reason why people call off work and have difficulty performing daily tasks. It is a problem that, according to surveys, people experience more often than not in a six-month period. What is interesting about back pain is that, as common as it is, there isn’t a lot of care being administered to help people deal with it.
For some reason, the majority of people who develop back pain expect it to go away. They may take a few days off to rest and may take an over-the-counter medication to reduce pain and inflammation. They may apply a heating pad or an ice pack as needed. However, beyond these strategies, relatively little is done to address the issue.
By the time many of our patients come to see us, they are in excruciating pain. They often tell us that they avoided seeing the doctor because they thought they would get better in time. Some say that they put off scheduling a consultation because they feared they would be urged to have surgery. In most cases, no one expected that their pain would become a chronic problem. In most cases, though, it does. Here, we discuss how to make sure it doesn’t by knowing when to see a spine specialist.
Indication #1 – You’ve developed pain in your extremities.
An initial back injury often causes knots, cramps, or stiffness and pain right in the localized area of the inflamed tissue. This can remain consistent for months or even years. In some cases, though, back pain worsens into radiating symptoms in the arms or legs. Examples include pain down the back of one leg (sciatica) and tingling or weakness in one or both arms. Chronic headaches may be another example. What radiating symptoms indicate is that the nerves in the area of the back or neck injury are being compressed, altering the sensations along the nerve path. To resolve this issue, we must alleviate the compression on affected nerves.
Indication #2 – Physical therapy hasn’t worked as anticipated.
Surgery is rarely the first approach to back pain. Usually, doctors advise patients to modify posture, take medication to control inflammation, and attend physical therapy. In many cases, these modalities work well. However, if physical therapy has continued for its duration and has been strictly followed as directed and pain continues, it’s time to see a spinal specialist. In our office, patients can learn more about what may be causing their chronic pain and whether or not surgery is a viable treatment option.
Indication #3 – Quality of life has diminished.
Some people wait so long to address back pain that they lose their ability to work or engage in activities as they’d like. We encourage you not to let back pain get to a point where your quality of life has decreased.
Princeton Neurological Surgery is proud to serve patients in Morristown, Paramus, Bridgewater, Hamilton, and Union, NJ. Contact an office near you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lipani.