Back pain is sometimes a frustrating mystery. This is mainly because the human spine itself is fairly complex and affected by many different factors and supporting parts. What this can mean for some people with back pain is the uncertainty of dealing with recurring or persistent discomfort and not finding welcome relief. However, there are some things you can do to manage uncertainty when it comes to treating back pain.
While there are some reliable sources of spine-related information online, it’s not a good idea to self-diagnose based on what you find. There are many symptoms that can have multiple possible sources, so it’s easy to assume you have one problem with your spine when it’s really something else. The only way to know with greater certainty what’s causing your back pain is to see your doctor. This way, you can go through a proper diagnostic process, which typically involves:
• A physical examination
• A review of your symptoms and medical history
• Appropriate image tests
Primary care physicians do their best to figure out what’s causing their patients’ back pain. That being said, there are times when your doctor’s original diagnosis may be off the mark. If you believe this may be the case, ask for a referral to a spine specialist. These are doctors who spend all their time dealing with spine-related issues, and they can often perform specialized tests to further evaluate the spine and related parts. Your specialist may suggest a number of treatment options, from physical therapy to alternatives to spinal fusion surgery. Santa Monica residents with recurrent back pain are likely to find it’s well worth the effort to consult with a spine specialist.
You may not be able to take all the uncertainty out of treating back pain, but what you can do is manage factors that may be under your control. This typically includes lifestyle factors such as the foods you eat, how much you exercise, and your posture. It can also be helpful to:
• Follow physical therapy recommendations
• Take medication as directed
• Stop smoking if you’re a smoker
Once you’ve received a diagnosis and it appears to be correct based on how you’re responding to initial treatment efforts, take the time to stay informed and educate yourself. You can do this by making a list of questions before going to your appointments with your doctor or Santa Monica spine surgeon. You can even ask for recommendations for reliable sources of information about your particular source of spine-related pain.
Lastly, work with the professionals who are helping you with treatment and symptom management to set realistic and reasonable goals. A good way to go about doing this is to set both short-term and long-term goals. For instance, your physical therapist might want you to get to a point within 2–3 months where you’re able to comfortably walk for 30 minutes a day without significant back pain. The long-term goal may be to lessen your dependence on medication and reach a point where you’re able to manage your symptoms effectively with lifestyle adjustments and exercise.
If you’re experiencing severe or persistent back pain, make sure to see an experienced spine specialist for prompt diagnosis and treatment. The industry-leading physicians at The Spine Institute are pioneers in spinal health, employing cutting-edge technology and innovative methods to enable patients to live pain-free, active lives. To schedule a personal consultation with one of our spinal health experts, give us a call today at 310-828-7757.