When should I get my spine checked?

Answered by Cody Janus

When it comes to getting your spine checked, there are a few factors to consider. If you are experiencing back pain that is a result of a recent strain or mild injury, your primary care doctor can usually provide the necessary help and guidance. In such cases, the pain is often temporary and will improve with rest and conservative treatments.

However, if your back pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs, it may be time to see a specialist, such as a back doctor or spine specialist. These symptoms could be indicative of a more serious underlying condition that requires further evaluation and specialized care.

Here are some situations in which it is advisable to get your spine checked by a specialist:

1. Chronic or recurring back pain: If you have been dealing with back pain for an extended period, typically more than three months, it is essential to seek medical attention. Chronic back pain can be caused by various factors, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or herniated discs.

2. Radiculopathy: Radiculopathy refers to the compression or irritation of a nerve root in the spine, often resulting in pain, numbness, or weakness that radiates down the arms or legs. This condition may be caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or other spinal abnormalities. If you experience these symptoms, it is crucial to consult a spine specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

3. Neurological symptoms: Any changes in sensation or motor function, such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs, require immediate medical attention. These symptoms could be a sign of nerve compression or damage and may warrant a thorough evaluation by a spine specialist.

4. Traumatic injury: If you have experienced a significant injury to your back, such as a fall or car accident, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Trauma can result in fractures, dislocations, or other spinal injuries that require specialized care to prevent further damage and promote proper healing.

5. Progressive symptoms: If you notice that your back pain or associated symptoms are worsening over time, it is essential to consult a spine specialist. Progressive symptoms can indicate an underlying condition that requires timely intervention to prevent further complications.

It is worth noting that the above situations are not an exhaustive list, and each person’s case is unique. If you have any concerns or doubts about your back pain or spinal health, it is always better to err on the side of caution and consult a specialist. They are trained to evaluate and diagnose spinal conditions accurately, provide appropriate treatment options, and guide you towards the best course of action for your specific situation.

Remember, early detection and timely intervention can often lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life when it comes to spinal health.