Dr. Beavers is an orthopedic surgery doctor serving the DFW metroplex. If you are having pain in a joint, torn or sprained a ligament, or have broken a bone contact his office for a consultation.
Back pain is among the most common medical problems in the world.
According to the World Health Organization, 75% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Although the severity of back pain varies greatly, even minor pain can be debilitating. It’s important to visit a doctor or specialist if you’re experiencing severe back pain, back pain that won’t go away, or pain after an accident/injury.
An orthopedic specialist, in particular, can help diagnose the cause of your back pain to develop an effective treatment and rehabilitation program.
The goal of an orthopedic surgeon is to not only reduce pain but to restore your function and mobility, so you can live a happy, healthy, and full life.
Recommended Dallas-Fort Worth Spine and Back Pain Doctors
When Does Back Pain Become a Problem?
Back pain is so common that many people put off seeing a doctor.
While it’s always better to be safe than sorry, there’s no denying that minor back pain can often be effectively treated at home.
Minor strain – such as from improperly lifting a heavy object or poor posture while at your desk at work – can often be remedied with by taking ample time to rest, avoiding using your back as much as possible, and applying ice or heat as needed.
Other times, however, it’s vital to see a doctor rather than try to bite the bullet and fight through the pain by yourself. Here is when back pain necessitates a visit with a doctor:
- Severe back pain
- Pain doesn’t go away after a few days
- An accident or injury causes the pain
- Numbness or tingling accompanies the pain
- Pain is worse in certain positions
Other symptoms that signify a major problem are fever, unexplained weight loss, and trouble using the bathroom.
Common Back and Spine Problems
Dozens of different injuries, illnesses, and disorders can lead to back pain and other problems, but here are a few of the most common:
- Lower Back Pain – The most common cause of back pain. It stems from a wide variety of factors, including aging, injuries, and disease.
- Neck Sprain – Typically occurs from injury, such as a car accident, sports injury, workplace incident, or fall.
- Whiplash – The sudden, unexpected movement of the neck and head. Common injury in car accidents.
- Pinched Nerve – An injury to the root of a nerve, often stems from another back or neck problem like a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease.
- Cervical Fracture – Often called a “broken neck,” this occurs when one of the cervical vertebrae in the neck is fractured.
- Herniated Disc – A problem with one of the discs that sit between the spinal bones, often caused by increased pressure on nearby nerves.
- Kyphosis – Also known as “curvature of the spine.” Often related to osteoporosis in older women.
- Sciatica – A radiating feeling of pain along the sciatic nerve, often extending from the lower back to one or both legs.
Most of these back and neck problems can be treated with orthopedic surgery or conservative surgical treatments.
Symptoms of Back and Spine Problems
Like any musculoskeletal problem, it’s beneficial to treat the cause of back and spine problems as early on as possible.
Here are a few of the most common symptoms of spine problems:
- Back Pain – Severe or long-lasting pain, often in lower back.
- Pain in Other Areas – Pain in the hips, legs, shoulders, and neck sometimes signify spinal problems.
- Numbness or Tingling – Numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles” in back or legs.
- Loss of Range of Motion – Inability to perform once normal activities, functions, or movements.
- Muscle Spasms – Spasms usually signify fatigue or dehydration. If they persist, they could be a sign of a more serious problem.
What is Spine Surgery?
An orthopedic surgeon is an expert in the musculoskeletal system, including the spine.
Many serious back problems require spine surgery to reduce pain and restore function. This treatment is often accompanied by a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
Your orthopedic surgeon will perform an evaluation to diagnose your problem. From there, they’ll either recommend back surgery straight away or take a more conservative approach if possible.
Many different types of spine surgery are available to treat a wide variety of problems and severity levels.
Among them are minimally invasive surgery and more complex open surgery. Laser surgery is also gaining some traction in the orthopedic community.
What else does an Orthopedic Surgeon do?
An orthopedic surgeon will recommend spine surgery as a last resort.
After diagnosing and evaluating the problem, these specialists will look at other options first, unless surgery is an absolute necessity.
Most orthopedic surgeons start with a conservative approach that incorporates self-care (ice and heat), plenty of rest, physical therapy, medications, and additional therapies like massage.
The majority of back pain, especially lower back pain, goes away on its own within a few weeks with the help of these non-invasive treatment methods.
Some cases will require surgery. At this point, the orthopedic specialist will recommend a specific surgery for your problem.
Risk Factors of Spine and Back Problems
Back and spine problems affect people of all ages and from all walks of life – yet there are certain risk factors to consider:
- Age – Back pain becomes more common with age. Many people first notice it in their 30s or 40s.
- Fitness Level – Those that are out of shape or overweight are more likely to experience lower back pain while those that regularly participate in sports or similar activities are more likely to experience back injuries.
- Lifestyle – Office jobs that require sitting in a chair for long periods increase risk of back pain. Simultaneously, jobs that require physical labor (such as standing for hours or lifting heavy objects) also increase risk.
- Family History – Many diseases that cause back pain are hereditary.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and good posture are key to minimizing the risk of back pain.
When to see an Orthopedic Specialist for Back Problems?
Don’t wait to seek treatment for back problems – see your primary care doctor or orthopedic specialist as soon as you notice severe pain or pain that doesn’t go away.
Even for back problems that don’t require spine surgery, an orthopedic specialist will help develop a conservative treatment approach, typically with a mixture of self-care, physical therapy, and medication.
For those that do require spine surgery, a variety of different spine surgeries are available to treat problems ranging from cervical fractures to pinched nerves to kyphosis and more.