Perhaps you are suffering from acute back pain for the first time? Or perhaps you have been suffering for some time and want are seeking to finally determine what is causing your pain and how to fix it. Fortunately, there are several different types of back specialists out there, who vary in the types of specific training they have received in both their respective fields of diagnostic medicine and the types of treatment they provide.
Back Pain Doctor - Who to see: A Specialist or a Generalist? The question of who you should see for your back pain condition may depend on what types of symptoms you have, how severe they are, and how long you have experienced these same symptoms.
Emergency Room Visits: For example, in some cases, you may either should, or you may have no choice, to seek emergency medical attention. Patients may seek emergency medical attention when their pain levels are so severe as to be incapacitating. In these cases, patients are going to be in so much pain that they are going to be frightened or in need of medications to get them through the next few days. A major accident that involves neck pain or lower back pain is another reason for an emergency room visit. In some cases of accidental traumas, a person may appear relatively fine but has suffered a major spinal cord injury that could lead to paralysis in the event of additional movements.
Two other reasons to go to the emergency room are bowel or bladder dysfunction and if you sense numbness or progressive weakness in your legs. Both of these types of symptoms may indicate serious compression of the spinal nerves. Serious compression of the spinal nerves is considered a serious problem because the damage to the nerves may become permanent if the problem is not corrected.
Typically, you will see a generalist if you seek emergency room treatment for your back pain symptoms. The generalist will have enough training to rule out serious medical conditions, and he or she will be able to order a CT Scan or MRI, if necessary to get a closer look at any anatomical pathology to your back. The emergency room doctors will also be able to send whatever information is gathered in your visit to your primary care physician.
Physiatrists: A physiatrist is a back specialist who analyzes the way you move your body as well as the structural integrity of the tissues that move and support your back. Physiatrists specialize in non-surgical options in treating back problems. A physiatrist will analyze the way you move and support your back in the office, and he or she may refer you to a physical therapy program which they have helped design or are very knowledgeable of. A physiatrist may refer you to other back specialists or to provide temporary pain medications, though the focus is on the training of exercises and movements that will provide long-term results. A physiatrist does not perform back surgery.
Osteopath: An osteopath has the credentials of D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) and is trained is provided the same privileges and responsibilities as a medical doctor (M.D.) So what's the difference? Osteopaths study and are trained as schools where they obtain the title of Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. Medical doctors training in separate programs. In the end, both may provide primary care, emergency medicine, and work in any medical specialty. The main difference is in the areas of training that each type of physician obtain while at school. Both doctors are trained in the arts of modern medicine, such as diagnostics, physical examinations, and surgery. Osteopaths, on the other hand, are also trained to understand, and perhaps treat with, alternative medicines.