What Kind of Doctor Do You See for Back Pain? Understanding Your Options

Are you tired of dealing with persistent back pain? It can be a real hassle when you’re constantly trying to manage the pain rather than focusing on your daily responsibilities. While many people try to combat their discomfort through exercise, stretching, and other home remedies, there may come a time when you need to seek out a professional. But what kind of doctor do you see for back pain?

Firstly, it’s important to note that treating back pain is not always a clear-cut solution. Depending on the source of your pain, you may need to see a different type of doctor to get the proper care you require. For instance, if your pain is the result of an accident or injury, you may need to see an orthopedist. Alternatively, if you’re dealing with chronic pain that is not acute, you may want to see a physiatrist or a neurologist.

That being said, there is one type of doctor that many people turn to when dealing with back pain. A chiropractor uses spinal manipulation to realign the body and reduce pain. They often use other methods as well, such as massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy. If you’re looking for a non-invasive approach to treating your back pain, a chiropractor may be the perfect solution.

Common Causes of Back Pain

Back pain can be a result of a multitude of factors, including injury, disease, or simply poor posture. Some common causes of back pain include:

  • Muscle strain: When muscles in the back are overworked or stretched beyond their limits, they can become strained and result in pain and stiffness.
  • Bulging or ruptured discs: The discs in between the vertebrae in the spine can bulge or rupture, pressing on nerves and causing pain.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis can cause inflammation and stiffness in the joints of the spine, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Skeletal irregularities: An abnormal curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis, can cause back pain.

Other factors that can contribute to back pain include poor posture, lack of exercise, and obesity. Identifying the root cause of back pain is crucial in developing an effective treatment plan.

Types of doctors who treat back pain

Back pain is a common condition that can be caused by various factors, including injury, aging, or medical conditions. If you experience back pain, it’s essential to seek medical attention to determine the cause and get proper treatment. Here are the types of doctors who can help treat back pain:

  • Primary care physicians: Your first step in seeking help for back pain should be to visit your primary care physician. They can examine you, diagnose the problem, and provide initial treatment or refer you to a specialist if necessary.
  • Chiropractors: Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems, with an emphasis on the spine. They use a hands-on approach to adjust and realign the spine to relieve pain and improve function.
  • Physical therapists: Physical therapists are experts in treating musculoskeletal and neurological conditions, including back pain. They use exercises, stretches, and other techniques to improve mobility, reduce pain, and prevent future injuries.

However, if you have a severe or chronic condition, you may need to see a specialist. Here are some specialists who can help:

  • Orthopedists: Orthopedic doctors specialize in treating conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, including the spine. They can provide surgical or nonsurgical treatments to alleviate back pain.
  • Neurologists: Neurologists are specialists in treating conditions that affect the nervous system, including back pain that originates from nerve damage. They can provide advanced diagnostic tests and prescribe medication or other treatments to alleviate pain and improve function.
  • Pain management specialists: Pain management doctors are specialists in treating chronic pain. They can offer a wide range of treatments, from medications to injections, to relieve back pain and improve quality of life.

When choosing a doctor to treat your back pain, it’s essential to consider their experience and expertise in treating your specific condition. Consult with your primary care physician or seek a second opinion to find a specialist who can provide you with the best course of treatment.

Common Treatments for Back Pain

Treatment for back pain depends on the cause, severity, and duration of your symptoms. Here are some common treatments that your doctor may recommend:

Physical therapyExercises and stretches to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility of the affected muscles and joints. May also include massage and other hands-on techniques.
Pain medicationOver-the-counter or prescription medications to manage pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms.
InjectionsEpidural steroid injections can be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
SurgeryIf conservative treatments are not effective, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove the damaged tissue or relieve pressure on nerves.

It’s vital to discuss the risks and benefits of any treatment options with your doctor before proceeding. With proper care and treatment, most people with back pain can achieve significant pain relief and improve their quality of life.

What to Expect During a Back Pain Evaluation

Back pain can be debilitating and can greatly affect your quality of life. Seeking medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. When you see a doctor for back pain, here’s what you can expect during your evaluation:

  • Medical history: Your doctor will ask you questions about your back pain, including when it started, where the pain is located, what makes it better or worse, and if you have any associated symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in your legs.
  • Physical exam: Your doctor will perform a physical exam to evaluate your back. They will check your range of motion, muscle strength, reflexes, and sensory function. They may also perform some specific tests to identify the underlying cause of your back pain.
  • Imaging tests: Your doctor may order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scan to get a better view of your spine and identify any issues such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

Based on the results of your evaluation, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan that may include physical therapy, medication, or in some cases, surgery. It is important to follow your treatment plan and attend any follow-up appointments to ensure the best possible outcome for your back pain.

Types of Doctors to See for Back Pain

There are a variety of healthcare professionals who specialize in treating back pain. Here are a few common types of doctors you may consider seeing:

  • Primary care physician: Your primary care physician can evaluate your back pain and recommend treatment or refer you to a specialist if necessary.
  • Orthopedic surgeon: If your back pain is related to a bone or joint problem, an orthopedic surgeon can help diagnose and treat your condition.
  • Neurologist: If your back pain is related to a nerve issue, a neurologist can help identify the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
  • Pain management specialist: A pain management doctor specializes in treating chronic pain and can provide treatment options to manage your back pain.

Common Causes of Back Pain

Back pain can have a variety of causes. Here are some common causes of back pain:

Table: Common Causes of Back Pain

Herniated discWhen one of the discs between the vertebrae in your spine ruptures or bulges, it can cause pressure on the nerves and result in back pain.
Spinal stenosisA narrowing of the space in your spine can cause compression of the nerves, resulting in back pain.
ArthritisInflammation of the joints can cause pain and stiffness in the back.
ScoliosisA curvature of the spine can cause back pain and sometimes nerve compression.
Muscle sprains or strainsOveruse or injury of the muscles in your back can cause pain and discomfort.

If you are experiencing back pain, it is important to seek medical attention promptly to identify the underlying cause and develop an effective treatment plan.

Non-surgical treatment options for back pain

Back pain is a common discomfort experienced by a lot of people that can significantly interfere with daily activities. Treatment options for back pain vary and depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Non-surgical options for back pain involve a combination of therapies and medications that aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve the functioning of the back. Here we will discuss some of the non-surgical treatment options for back pain.

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy aims to help improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles supporting the spine. It can also involve exercises that help correct posture, balance and coordination, and reduce stiffness. A physical therapist can help design a personalized exercise program for the patient that improves their back’s overall functioning and reduces pain and inflammation.
  • Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors focus on spinal manipulation, which involves the realignment of spinal vertebrae. By manipulating the spine, chiropractors claim to reduce pressure on the nerves, which ultimately leads to a decrease in back pain and improved function.
  • Massage Therapy: Massage therapy involves the use of various techniques to manipulate the soft tissues of the body to relieve muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and reduce inflammation. Massage therapy can help reduce back pain if the pain originates from muscle tension and knots in the back.

The table below shows some commonly used treatment options and their description, dosage, and side effects.

Treatment OptionDescriptionDosageSide Effects
AcetaminophenPain reliever; Useful for mild-moderate pain; Does not reduce inflammationUp to 4000mg per dayCan cause liver damage with prolonged use
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)Pain reliever and reduces inflammationAs prescribedCan cause stomach ulcers, kidney problems, and bleeding with prolonged use
Muscle RelaxantsDrugs that help reduce muscle spasms in the backAs prescribedCan cause drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth
Physical TherapyExercises and modalities aimed at improving back function and strengthVaries based on individual needs; Supervised by a physical therapistNone
Chiropractic CareManipulation of the spine to improve alignment and reduce painVaries based on individual needs; As recommended by the chiropractorMild soreness or aching after treatment
Massage TherapyManipulation of soft tissues to relieve muscle tensionVaries based on individual needs; As recommended by the massage therapistNone

The non-surgical treatment options discussed above provide considerable relief for people with back pain. In most cases, a combination of therapies and medications can lead to a significant improvement in symptoms and function. Seeking advice from a healthcare provider can help determine the most effective treatment plan for the individual.

When to Consider Surgery for Back Pain

Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide. While most people can manage their back pain through conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and rehabilitation, there are instances when the pain becomes too severe, and more aggressive interventions are necessary. In such cases, surgery may be an option.

But when exactly should you consider back surgery for your back pain? Here are five critical factors to consider:

  • Conservative treatments have failed: Surgery should not be an immediate option for back pain. Before even considering surgery, you need to have exhausted all conservative treatments without success. These may include physical therapy, medication, rehabilitation, and other non-invasive treatments.
  • A serious underlying condition: If your back pain is due to an underlying condition such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or any other spinal deformity, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem and alleviate the pain.
  • The pain is unbearable: Back pain can be challenging, but some people may not be able to handle the pain. If you have tried everything, and the pain is still unbearable and interfering with your daily activities, surgery may be the only option left.
  • The pain is affecting the quality of your life: If your back pain is causing emotional distress, affecting your job, social life, or ability to perform daily tasks, surgery may be your best option to reclaim your life.
  • Your doctor recommends surgery: In some cases, surgery may be the only suggested treatment. Your doctor will recommend surgery if they feel that it’s the best course of action to alleviate your back pain and improve your quality of life.

Types of Back Surgeries

If your back pain meets the criteria for surgery, it’s essential to understand the different types of surgeries available. The type of surgery you select will depend on your specific needs and the underlying problem that’s causing your back pain. Some common types of back surgeries include:

  • Spinal fusion
  • Discectomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Artificial disc replacement
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Kyphoplasty

Risks of Back Surgery

Like any surgeries, back surgery comes with risks; after all, it’s a complicated procedure that involves your spine. Some potential risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal fluid leak

While these risks may sound scary, it’s essential to note that they’re relatively rare. Plus, with advancements in surgical technology and techniques, the risks can be minimized.


Deciding whether to have back surgery isn’t an easy decision; there are many factors to consider. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what’s best for you and your individual situation. It’s crucial to speak with your doctor and evaluate all possible options to make an informed decision. With the right guidance, you can alleviate your back pain and improve your quality of life.

ProcedureRisk Level
Spinal fusionHigh
DiscectomyLow to moderate
LaminectomyLow to moderate
Artificial disc replacementLow to moderate

Table: Common types of back surgeries and their associated risk levels.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Treating Back Pain

Physical therapy is an essential element in treating back pain. By definition, physical therapy involves the use of exercises and stretches to relieve pain and promote healing. When it comes to back pain, physical therapy can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, increase flexibility, and improve overall strength and range of motion. Here are some of the ways physical therapy can be helpful in treating back pain:

  • Exercise: Physical therapy exercises for back pain can help rebuild strength in the muscles that support the spine, which can help reduce pain and prevent further injury. Exercises might include stretching, strength training, and aerobic conditioning.
  • Manual therapy: During manual therapy, a physical therapist uses their hands to manipulate your spine, joints, and soft tissues to promote healing. This might include massage, joint mobilization, or muscle energy techniques.
  • Traction: Traction involves applying force to your spine to stretch it and relieve pressure. This can be done manually or through the use of a machine.

When working with a physical therapist to treat back pain, you can expect a comprehensive evaluation of your condition. They will analyze your biomechanics, strength, and flexibility to create a personalized program for your specific needs. Treatment typically involves several sessions over a period of weeks or months.

Research shows that physical therapy can be highly effective in treating back pain, particularly when used in conjunction with other treatments like medication, chiropractic care, or massage. A 2018 study published in JAMA showed that physical therapy is just as effective as surgery for treating lumbar spinal stenosis, a condition that can cause chronic back pain.

Non-invasive, low-riskMay take several sessions to see results
Personalized treatment planMay require ongoing sessions or maintenance therapy
Can be combined with other treatmentsMay not be covered by insurance

Overall, physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option for those suffering from back pain. By improving strength and flexibility, along with reducing inflammation and pressure, physical therapy can help reduce pain and prevent further injury. If you’re struggling with back pain, consider consulting with a physical therapist to see if this treatment may be right for you.

Lifestyle changes that can help alleviate back pain

Back pain affects millions of people around the world. It can be caused by a number of factors, including poor posture, heavy lifting, or an injury. While seeing a doctor is important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make that will help alleviate back pain.

  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your back. It helps to strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility. Try low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
  • Improve your posture: Many people develop back pain because of poor posture. To improve your posture, make sure to sit and stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your chest out.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce the strain on your back. Make sure your diet is high in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and low in processed foods and sugars.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, there are a number of other things you can do to alleviate back pain.

Change your mattress: If you are waking up with back pain, consider changing your mattress. A mattress that is too soft or too firm can put a strain on your back.

Quit smoking: Smoking can reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to your back muscles, which can lead to back pain. Quitting smoking can help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of back pain.

Reduce stress: Stress can cause tension in your back muscles, which can lead to pain. Try to reduce stress in your life through activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

ExerciseHow it helps
WalkingHelps strengthen muscles and reduce strain on back
YogaImproves flexibility and posture
SwimmingLow-impact exercise that strengthens muscles and reduces strain on back

By making these lifestyle changes and getting proper medical care, you can reduce your risk of back pain and improve your overall health and well-being.

What Kind of Doctor Do You See for Back Pain? FAQs

Q: What kind of doctor do I see for back pain?
A: You can start with your primary care physician who can refer you to a specialist if necessary, or you can go directly to a doctor who specializes in treating back pain.

Q: What is a doctor who specializes in treating back pain called?
A: A doctor who specializes in treating back pain is called a spine specialist, or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) who is trained to treat the musculoskeletal system.

Q: What kind of tests are done to diagnose the cause of my back pain?
A: Some common tests for back pain include X-rays, MRI, CT scan, bone scan, and electromyography (EMG).

Q: What kind of treatments are available for back pain?
A: Treatment options for back pain include physical therapy, medication, acupuncture, chiropractic care, injections, and surgery.

Q: What type of doctor can perform surgery for back pain?
A: A neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon can perform surgery for back pain. However, surgery is usually considered a last resort and only recommended when all other treatments have failed.

Q: What kind of doctor treats lower back pain?
A: A spine specialist, physiatrist, or pain management specialist can treat lower back pain.

Q: Can a chiropractor treat my back pain?
A: Yes, a chiropractor can treat back pain by using manual adjustments to realign the spine and relieve pressure on the nerves.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has helped answer your questions about what kind of doctor to see for back pain. Remember, it’s important to consult a medical professional if you experience chronic or severe back pain. Thanks for reading and please visit again for more health-related articles!