When to See a Neck and Back Pain Doctor

Apr 9, 2024 | Pain Management

While neck and back pain may be common and typically resolves itself with rest and over-the-counter treatments, it’s a whole different story when that pain becomes chronic. Life can come to a standstill when the suffering just won’t go away, even after weeks or months of unbearable symptoms. 

That’s why it’s important to understand when it’s the right time to see a neck and back pain doctor. Left untreated, chronic pain can prevent a person from basic everyday responsibilities and may even cause long-term damage. 

Let’s take a look at the warning signs of chronic neck and back pain and how to know when to make an appointment with a specialist.

When Neck and Back Pain Won’t Go Away

Neck and back pain is felt in the areas from the base of the skull down through the spine to the lower back. Medical professionals categorize this pain into two types: acute and chronic. Acute pain is sudden and intense and may last anywhere from a day to several weeks. It’s often caused by a fall, heavy lifting, or other forms of physical stress. 

The pain becomes chronic when it persists for more than three months. It most commonly stems from arthritis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or a host of other conditions.

When to See a Neck and Back Pain Doctor

While occasional mild neck and back pain are normal — especially after an extended period of hard work or exertion — certain symptoms should not be ignored. The signs that you may need a medical professional’s attention include:

• Severe pain that persists even after rest

• Pain that spreads down one or both legs

• Weakness or stiffness in the muscles

• Pain that intensifies with basic functions like standing, sitting, or bending

• Reduced range of motion

• Numbness or tingling

• Pain accompanied by unexplained weight loss

• Severe pain that prevents you from sleeping

It’s important to be able to tell the difference between normal and severe symptoms. Normal symptoms are temporary and can usually be relieved by rest or over-the-counter medication. Severe symptoms, however, tend to persist or worsen over time (weeks or months) and can significantly disrupt or prevent daily activities.

If you’ve tried home remedies for a few weeks and the pain still won’t go away, it may be time to see a neck and back pain doctor — more commonly referred to as a pain management specialist. If you’re unsure, we advise that you start by visiting your primary care physician or local health clinic. 

What Does a Neck and Back Pain Doctor Do?

Neck and back pain doctors — pain management specialists — are medical practitioners who diagnose and treat conditions causing neck and back discomfort. They may use one or a combination of a variety of therapies depending on the underlying cause and severity of your pain. 

The most common treatment options include:

• Physical therapy 

• Medication management (both prescription and over-the-counter)

• Minimally invasive procedures such as nerve blocks, corticosteroid injections, and radiofrequency ablations

• Alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, or dry needling

• In severe cases, surgery

During your first visit, your medical practitioner will review your medical history, ask you questions about your condition and symptoms, and perform a physical examination. They may order an imaging test such as an X-ray or MRI scan. You’ll want to prepare for your visit by gathering information about your symptoms, their duration, any treatments you’ve tried, and relevant medical records.

Be open and honest about your experience and ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

HPM Neck and Back Pain Management Specialists

At HPM, we understand how debilitating neck and back pain can be. That’s why we provide a network of neck and back pain doctors in rural communities across the country. Our expert pain management specialists take the time to fully evaluate your condition to pinpoint the true cause of your neck or back pain. We offer advanced medical treatments that can help return your body to its normal function and get you back to doing what you love. 

You don’t have to let neck and back pain control your life. Reach out to us today to find an HPM pain clinic near you.