An orthopedic spine specialist is qualified to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the spine. Patients experiencing back pain should schedule an appointment with their primary care physician to find out if they should see an orthopedic spine specialist.
Who Doesn’t Need Back Surgery?
A strain or sprain may cause acute back pain but typically does not require surgery and will heal naturally over time. The best treatment for a back strain or sprain is to rest for a few days, or even a week, and avoid repeating the actions that caused the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
When to Consult an Orthopedic Spine Specialist or Surgeon
Patients who experience the following symptoms, however, should schedule an appointment with an orthopedic spine specialist:
- Persistent pain, or pain that worsens after two weeks
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Weakness or loss of function
These symptoms may be a sign of a degenerative condition, such as stenosis or myelopathy. Older individuals are at increased risk of developing degenerative back problems, and may need surgical intervention.
Other reasons to schedule a visit with an orthopedic spine specialist:
- A spine infection
- A broken or dislocated bone
- A tumor of the backbone or spinal cord
- A slipped disc
Types of Orthopedic Treatment
Depending on the patient’s condition, an orthopedic spine specialist may recommend one or a combination of the following treatment options:
- Exercise. Patients may benefit from certain stretching and strengthening exercises to help heal the injury and prevent future damage.
- Medication. Pain-relieving and other medications can help patients endure the recovery process. An orthopedic spine specialist may also prescribe muscle relaxers to help alleviate pain and facilitate healing.
- Physical therapy. After a back injury, patients typically avoid using the injured muscles, causing those muscles to weaken. Physical therapy can help patients regain the natural, proper use of their muscles.
- Massage/acupuncture. Both massage and acupuncture can help alleviate pain and support the healing process.
- Surgery. Patients who don’t experience symptom relief from non-invasive forms of treatment may need to undergo surgery to correct the tissue and prevent long-term damage.
Difference Between an Orthopedic Spine Specialist and a Spine Surgeon
An orthopedic spine surgeon has received advanced training in spine care for spinal disorders that may include scoliosis, herniated disc, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, vertebral fracture, trauma, deformity, tumor, infection, and congenital abnormalities.
An orthopedic spine specialist focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of spinal injuries. They may specialize in pediatric spinal conditions or focus on treating a few specific spinal conditions. An orthopedic spine specialist may refer patients to a spine surgeon for traditional spine surgery, or minimally-invasive spine surgery, such as laser spine surgery.
Why Trust The Team of Specialists at The Orange County Orthopedic & Pain Center
The team of orthopedic spine specialists at the Orange County Orthopedic & Pain Center has undergone extensive training and has years of experience treating a variety of orthopedic conditions. If you’ve experienced a back injury, don’t hesitate to give us a call!