Back pain can affect anyone at any age, and it’s often manageable with modified activity, over-the-counter pain relievers, and other self-care measures. There are times, though, when back pain is best treated by a medical specialist.
Award-winning pain management specialist Dr. John S. Michels provides the Dallas-Fort Worth region with top-level care for acute and chronic pain issues, including those that affect your back.
Here are some guidelines Dr. Michels and his team suggest when contemplating specialty care for back pain and the benefits of seeing a pain management physician.
When did your back pain start?
Because Dr. Michels is interested in accurately diagnosing and treating the source of your pain, he considers several things during your evaluation, including when and how the pain started.
You may, for instance, be able to trace your symptoms to a heavy lift at the gym or an awkward twist when bending down to tie your shoe. Unfortunately, these actions can cause acute back pain due to muscle, tendon, or ligament strains that may take several days to several weeks to resolve.
But your symptoms could also be caused by a herniated disc, compression fracture, or another structural issue that requires a different treatment approach than a soft tissue injury.
Thus, Dr. Michels recommends scheduling an appointment if your back pain:
- Lasts longer than three days
- Does not improve steadily over 24-48 hours
- Is severe enough to prevent you from completing daily activities
- Decreases but does not entirely resolve
- Does not have a discernible cause (i.e., muscle pull)
He also recommends a visit if your back pain develops slowly over time (often starting with early morning stiffness) since this could indicate degenerative changes that can affect your discs, facet joints, and ligaments.
Otherwise, Dr. Michels suggests calling the office or requesting an appointment online whenever you’re concerned about pain.
What kind of back pain are you having?
The type of back pain and other symptoms you’re experiencing also influence how quickly you should schedule an appointment.
For instance, back pain that limits your ability to perform daily activities, such as bending, lifting, or walking, requires medical attention.
Dr. Michels also recommends scheduling an appointment today if you’re experiencing:
- Moderate to severe pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter meds
- Back pain that prevents you from sleeping
- Numbness or tingling in your legs or arms, which could indicate nerve injury
- Shooting or electric-shock-type pain traveling from your back into your arms or legs, indicative of irritated nerves
He also recommends a visit if you have new or worsening pain following previous back or neck surgery or injury. This could indicate a new disc injury or developing arthritis that may affect spinal nerves and other structures in your spine.
Why should I see a pain management specialist for back pain?
As an interventional radiologist and pain management specialist, Dr. Michels is a specially trained medical professional with extensive expertise in diagnosing and treating acute (sudden) and long-term (chronic) pain conditions.
His pain management techniques include:
Dr. Michels determines the underlying cause of your back pain by conducting a thorough physical examination, reviewing your medical history, and ordering diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
Once he establishes an accurate diagnosis, he develops a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.
Dr. Michels considers a wide range of treatments and therapies that reduce pain and improve function, including:
- Physical therapy
- Selective nerve root blocks
- Facet injections/rhyzotomy
- Epidural steroid injections
- Kyphoplasty for fractures
Before proceeding with these therapies, you can also rely on Dr. Michels to discuss treatment details and expected outcomes.
Minimally invasive procedures
Pain management specialists like Dr. Michels perform minimally invasive procedures to treat your back pain. While highly effective, these in-office procedures do not require a lengthy recovery period.
Above all, Dr. Michels aims to improve your overall quality of life by restoring your ability to engage in everyday work, home, sports, and social activities without pain. Schedule a pain management evaluation today.