When Should You See a Doctor for Back Pain?

Dr. Ramesh Sahjpaul, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Neurosurgeon, discusses when should you see a doctor for back pain.

Loading the player...

Dr. Ramesh Sahjpaul, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Neurosurgeon, discusses when should you see a doctor for back pain.
14545 Views
Share
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Ramesh Sahjpaul, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Neurosurgeon


Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Well, understanding that most causes of back pain are fairly self-limited, and the pain resolves on its own within days to weeks.  

However, there are some situations in which a patient should see their family doctor if the back pain is persisting for more than a few weeks, if the pain is waking them up at nighttime, or if the back pain is associated with other symptoms, then definitely patients should consult their family physician.  

The types of symptoms that can occur with back pain are things such as numbness or tingling going down the legs or sometimes even into the arms if it’s neck pain. And when patients experience these types of symptoms that usually means that there is nerve irritation or nerve pressure, and that may be a reason to see their family physician.  

The vast majority of causes of back pain are treated conservatively, and almost always the symptoms resolve within weeks or perhaps one to two months with measures such as rest, anti-inflammatories, physio.  

However, if the back pain persists despite these measures, it may take further alterations in one’s lifestyle or perhaps alterations in their workplace, and again, that’s often done with the help of a physiotherapist or other personnel.  

If the symptoms persist despite all of these measures, at that time it’s quite reasonable to request a consultation with a surgeon, and in addition, it may be appropriate to obtain further investigations such as a CT scan or an MRI scan to make sure there is no other underlying cause for the back pain.  

In those situations, if the pain is associated with other symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, weakness, pain radiating into the legs, that may be a sign of a herniated disc or spinal stenosis in which case surgery may be an option.

Presenter: Dr. Ramesh Sahjpaul, Neurosurgeon, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurosurgeon

Video Quiz ( 12 participated.)

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:

Questions True False  
1 If you are experiencing back pain, you should see your doctor if it's been more than a few weeks, if the pain wakes you at night and if you have other related symptoms such as tingling, numbness or weakness going down your legs or arms.

 
2 If you are experiencing back pain, treatment is often conservative to begin with and involves rest, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy.

 
3 If a back condition does not respond to conservative treatments it is sometimes recommended to have a CAT scan or MRI of the back done.

 

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.