When to See a Spine Surgeon About Low Back Pain

Surgeon with Low Back Pain in Santa Monica, CA

Considered the top medical complaint among adults, low back pain often goes away with self-care. Related pain can range from minimal discomfort to sharp, sudden pain that quickly becomes debilitating. Whether or not to see a surgeon about LBP depends on where you fall on this scale and the impact your pain has on your overall quality of life.

After Seeing Your Primary Care Physician

Your primary care physician can provide an initial evaluation to determine the extent of your LBP. They may refer you a chiropractor or a licensed physical therapist to see how you respond to conservative treatments before considering any further actions. The first round of treatment options usually includes:

  •  Over-the-counter or prescription painkillers
  •  Anti-inflammatory drugs
  •  Heat and ice applications
  •  Modification of activities

When Conservative Treatments Aren’t Working

If you reach a point where conservative treatments for back pain aren’t providing significant relief, your PCP may refer you to either a spine surgeon in Los Angeles or a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, also referred to as a physiatrist, to determine the extent of your LBP. Physiatrists frequently work in conjunction with spine surgeons, often within the same facility, in an attempt to achieve an accurate diagnosis.

When There’s an Anatomical Source of Your Pain

Spine surgery is only an option if an anatomical source of your low back pain has been identified. If this is the case, you will have an initial consultation with a spine surgeon, which often includes an evaluation of your medical history, input from your PCP and any other specialists you may have seen, and image testing to confirm the extent of the structural issue that’s likely causing or contributing to your LBP, with surgery becoming a serious consideration when:

  •  Pain radiates to adjacent areas
  •  LBP becomes progressively worse
  •  Nerve roots are being compressed

Most low back pain is mechanical in nature, with age-related wear of joints and supporting discs being one of the chief causes. The goal of a Los Angeles spine surgeon is to determine the extent of the problem, rule out possible contributing factors, and recommend a treatment likely to provide relief, which doesn’t necessarily have to include surgery.

To learn more about your options for Los Angeles spine surgery or to receive a second opinion, reach out to Dr. Hyun Bae. Dr. Bae is the medical director of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and a leader in conservative spine treatments. Call (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation today.