For one survey, 500 men ranging in age from 18 to 70 were asked about when they tend to go to the doctor. About 40 percent admitted to only visiting an MD for serious medical conditions. These results echo similar research suggesting men put off seeing a doctor more than women. It’s not such a good idea to have this approach to health care when it comes to spine-related pain. In fact, ignoring early signs that something is wrong with the backbone or its various parts could seriously affect quality of life. Here are three specific reasons men need to a see a Los Angeles spine surgeon about spine pain.
1. Pain Is Lingering for Several Weeks (and Self-Care Efforts Aren’t Working)
Many instances of back and neck pain are temporary inconveniences caused by muscles and other soft tissues that were overextended or overstretched or minor nerve irritations. With this type of discomfort, most people resort to self-care methods such as getting a few days of rest, applying heat or ice, and using over-the-counter medications. However, it’s best to see a doctor if the following circumstances apply:
• Symptoms have been sticking around for 2-3 weeks or more
• Pain is becoming increasingly severe and disruptive
• Back and/or neck discomfort goes away but keeps returning
• You have a physically demanding job that doesn’t make it possible to rest and allow your spine to heal
2. Acute or Intense Pain Develops After a Hard Impact or Fall
Acute spine-related pain sometimes develops from a sprain or muscle spasm that might occur after moving in a way that stresses soft tissues. This type of pain usually goes away or becomes less noticeable within a day or two. The type of acute or intense pain that should be reason enough to seek medical attention right away is what might occur after a hard impact, fall, or collision in a motor vehicle.
High-impact blows to any part of the spine can easily damage vertebrae, spinal joints, discs, and nerves. The lower back and neck are most susceptible to injuries of this nature since the mid-back area is protected by the ribcage and other structures. It’s also important to look out for symptoms that develop a day or two after an impact, as may be the case with whiplash.
3. Spine Pain Is Coupled with Red Flag Symptoms
Not all pain that originates from an area within or around the spine produces symptoms limited to the back or neck. There are some potentially serious symptoms that suggest nerves and other structures are affected. The longer nerves are irritated or compressed, the more likely it is that symptoms will either worsen or become chronic.
A common example of a situation like this is when a herniated lumbar disc presses on the sciatic nerve that starts in the lower spine and moves down into the legs. Symptoms that suggest something out of the ordinary is going on with the spine include:
• Radiating pain felt in the legs, buttocks, or thighs
• Pain extending to arms or shoulders
• Numbness, tingling sensations, or general weakness in the arms or legs
• Loss of bladder/bowel control
• Difficulty with balance and/or coordination
• Fever, chills, severe headaches, or nausea
Even if it’s determined that your spine-related issue is nothing serious, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Getting into the habit of communicating with your doctor about your spine pain could also result in some suggestions about your diet, exercise, posture, and sleep habits that might relieve existing discomfort or prevent future problems.
Some conditions that cause spine pain can be treated with surgical procedures such as spinal decompression or alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles residents who are experiencing chronic spinal pain should reach out to The Spine Institute to determine the course of treatment. To talk to one of our friendly representatives and schedule an appointment, give us a call at 310-828-7757 today.