The different people involved in your back pain management may range from surgeons to diagnosing doctors to homeopaths who provide acupuncture or other alternative therapies. Patients across the globe and across time have reported benefits from all of these treatments; and no treatment has worker or will ever work (well never say never right) for everybody. Here are a list of people who may be involved in your back pain management as well as their and the initials that represent their degrees
MD: An MD is a medical doctor in the United States, who has graduated from medical school. A doctor may be the primary care physician who refers to another doctor who is a specialist, or he may order X-Rays of your back and make his own determination. Most cases of back pain revolve on its own within three months, so a visit to a primary care physician will often be sufficient. For more sophisticated medical images, a radiologist MD may read the images and report the findings back to the referring doctor or orthopedist.
If the primary care doctor thinks that the patient may have a more serious back injury than the typical sprain and strain injury, they may refer the patient to an Orthopedic MD or Orthopedic Surgeon. The orthopedic specialist may order medical images such a MRI, CT, ultrasound, or PET scans (MRI is the most common types of images for back injuries). If the MD doctor thinks that patient may me metabolic or neurologic, he may refer the patient to another type of specialist.
Once the patient has been referred to a MD specialist and the examination of the patient and reading of the images has been done, one of three things will be likely to happen.
- The doctor reading the medical images may decide that the injury will heal on its own. In these cases, the patient may be given instruction to get some extra rest. The patient may also be instructed on which types of movements or exercises to avoid so that the injury is not exacerbated. To accelerate the rate of the patient's recovery, or for patient comfort, the patient may be given medications to take in order to feel better.
- The patient will be referred to physical therapy. The patient's physical therapy will be performed by either a physical therapist or a physical therapy assistant. The physical therapist will be in regular communication with the referring doctor as the progress of the physical therapy.
- The patient may be referred to a pain clinic if the doctor thinks that the patient may respond well to specialized techniques there. None of the treatments that are performed at pain clinics are likely to provide permanent relief, but they are likely to provide some relief to patients that are in extreme pain. The back pain relief may be sufficient enough as a result of these treatments that they are able to continue with their physical therapy exercises. Treatments as these types of clinics usually involve injections to the nerve roots that have been compressed as a result of a back injury or degeneration.
- The patient may be referred to a back specialist to be evaluated for back surgery. Back surgery cases referrals occur when it is determined that a patient is likely to suffer from permanent nerve damage without the surgery being performed to decompress the spine. Back surgery may also be considered when the patient is in severe back pain or some degree of pain that has considered even after several other treatments have been tried.
The type of back doctor that your primary care physician refers you to may depend on the type of back condition that you have, as well as the cause of the condition. There are several different back doctors that may be responsible for your care at some point in your treatment program.
Here is a brief list of some of the different types of specialists who treat back pain.
- Anesthesiologists: Anesthesiologists will be in the room for any type of back surgery that is performed, including minimally invasive procedures and those that require general anesthesia.
- Neurologists: Neurologists are physicians diagnose and treat nervous system conditions. Though neurologists are most often involved with diagnosing and treating conditions such as strokes, brain injuries, and brain tumors, they may be involved in the diagnosis of a patient's back condition. Patients who have lasting neck or back pain may be referred to a neurologist to determine the exact location and cause of injury.
- Physiatrists: A physiatrist may develop a treatment program for patients with back conditions caused by disc disease, muscle imbalances, poor posture, and problems with the nervous system. The physiatrist develops a treatment program that often involves physical therapy to correct these types of problems.
- Rheumatologists: Rheumatologists treat back conditions related to bone density loss (osteoporosis) as well as systemic inflammatory conditions.
- Surgeons: Surgeons perform back surgery procedures such as Disc Replacement, Discectomy, Foraminotomy, Laminectomy, and Spinal Fusion.