We see people with low back pain every day. Most people are unsure of the process or the progression of who to see when they are in pain. There is so much information on the internet that it can be confusing and mind boggling.
There are some simple truths.
I do say that with a smile. Most people have back pain because they have earned it. We have a little less muscle strength and endurance than we should. We sit too much and exercise tends to be in spurts. Not to mention we have all been a little hard on our bodies, which has produced some wear and tear.
Those factors produce sprains and strains in the body. It is common and it will happen.
Most people who come in with low back pain have had several advanced warnings of a problem, they just ignored them. There were probably early signs of stiffness and soreness, decreased range of motion, or tightness. The body was getting tired and beat up, and something finally caused it to break.
Delaying treatment often makes treatment more difficult and drawn out. I'm not saying that every sore back needs to be treated, but if it isn't getting better after 5-7 days, see someone sooner rather than later.
Waiting 2-4 weeks causes the body to under go compensating muscle spasms and protective procedures that make your recovery more difficult.
Identify all the parts of the problem and create solutions for them all. This will include muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, core strength, posture changes, and activity modification. If you do everything right the first time there is much less of a chance of a second injury. Learn about your risk factors for future occurrences of low back pain. If you keep doing them then at least you understand your risks.
People are creatures of habit and will continue to do what they want after the pain disappears. If the factors that caused the pain the first time are still there, then you will probably be back for round two.
If the history, exam findings, and orthopedic testing all indicate a back sprain then you probably don't need an MRI. If it acts like a duck, talks like a duck, and walks like a duck, do you need to pay someone $750 to tell you it's a duck?
Of course if it isn't acting like a sprain or there are some complicating factors, then it can be appropriate to get an MRI sooner rather than later. However, just like #1 and #3 said above, sprains are common and they usually get better in a few weeks with treatment. Sometimes waiting two weeks makes you more confident that it is a sprain and saves you a lot of time and money.
If you do want to see an orthopedic back specialist, schedule an appointment and begin your chiropractic and physical therapy while you are waiting for the appointment. Many times you will feel much better by your appointment date and won't need to go. If you are not feeling better, then you can tell the orthopedic that your two weeks of therapy has not helped much, and that will provide him/her with more information and insight into your injury.
Otherwise, if you see the doctor before therapy he/she is very likely to recommend therapy for a few weeks before trying something more aggressive. Standard protocol for low back pain is a trial of therapy for 2-4 weeks before more aggressive treatments.
Trying therapy first not only gets you better faster most times, but it also speeds up the progression through the medical system.
Some offices are better than others. Most times patients don't know if they were in a good, average, or bad office. They may like their provider, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were the best person to treat the injury. Every provider does things a little differently and has different skill sets. If the first office doesn't work, then try another. Ask your friends who they saw for their back pain.
Just get better.
People will be affected with back pain at some point in their life. It is important to take care of the problem the first time and avoid the potential of developing chronic problems. It is always easier to fix a small leak than a flood.
For more information on Low Back and Sciatica click here.
Disc herniations information can be found on the Lumbar Disc Decompression page.