Doctor checking a patient's x-ray of spine

It can be overwhelming for some people to go to a spine specialist for the first time. You may have so many questions such as what to expect and what to bring on your first appointment. Not to mention, you may have anxiety surrounding if your spine specialist will be able to effectively treat your pain, especially if you’ve had treatment that didn’t work in the past.

However, going to see a spine specialist shouldn’t be an anxiety-provoking endeavor. Seeking professional care from a spine specialist can be a great first step for you to better manage your pain symptoms so you can lead a healthier, happier life.

If you are struggling with chronic pain symptoms, our advanced team of pain specialists at Pain and Spine Specialists is here to help! We offer a range of treatment options from injection therapies, to medications, and more so you can receive the right combination of treatments to safely and effectively manage your pain symptoms.

Read on to learn more about what does a spine specialist does, when to see a spine specialist, and so much more below!

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What Is A Spine Specialist?

A spine specialist, as the title suggests, is a specialist who focuses on diseases and issues of the spine. These doctors are specially trained to treat conditions that stem from the spine. Spine specialists can offer a wide range of non-surgical and surgical treatment options to better manage pain and treat conditions of the spine.

Because the title “spine specialist” is rather broad, you may be wondering “What is a spine specialist called”? Or, what are the common types of spine specialists?

Common examples of specific spine specialist positions include chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, pain management physicians, and more. Depending on the specific type of spine specialist will influence what they treat/ their unique job responsibilities.

When to See A Spine Specialist?

It may seem somewhat anxiety-provoking to seek care from a spine specialist. However, there are several reasons why you may need to seek professional care from a spine specialist.

Examples of why you should consider seeing a spine specialist include:

● Chronic Pain that lasts for weeks without subsiding.

● Your pain is interfering with your daily life and responsibilities.

● You are experiencing foot or leg weakness or numbness.

● Your range of motion/ mobility is impacted.

In general, if you are experiencing pain that is hindering your quality of life and function, it’s essential you seek professional care from a spine specialist to better manage your back pain symptoms.

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What Does A Spine Specialist Do?

As discussed earlier, the term spine specialist covers a range of different positions from pain management specialists, to chiropractors, physical therapists, and more. Therefore, depending on the spine specialist you go to will impact the specific roles and responsibilities of each specialist.

If you are suffering from chronic back pain and discomfort, you should seek professional care from a pain management specialist.

A pain management specialist will not only help better understand and diagnose your condition, but a pain management specialist will help provide effective treatment options to better manage your pain. Some common treatment options a pain management specialist may recommend include physical therapy, pain medications, and injection therapies.

Things To Expect At Your First Spine Specialist Appointment

If you’re about to have your first appointment with a spine specialist, here are 5 things to expect will happen.

1. A Longer Appointment

First and foremost, expect your appointment to take a bit longer than usual as your doctor will spend time getting to know you and your health history. During this first appointment, your doctor will also answer any questions or hesitations you may have.

2. Talking About Your Medical History

Be prepared to discuss your medical history with your spine specialist. This includes talking about any past treatments or surgeries you’ve undergone to manage your pain symptoms, as well as in general getting a better gauge of your pain symptoms (when they started, any event that may have led up to your pain, etc.). Understanding your medical history more thoroughly will allow your pain specialist to create a more tailored treatment plan to effectively manage your pain.

3. Physical Exam

You will also likely undergo a basic physical exam. This physical exam will help your spine specialist gain a better understanding of your health as a whole and why you may be experiencing your pain symptoms.

4. Create An Initial Treatment Plan

If you are going to a spine specialist to better manage your pain symptoms, during your first appointment the spine specialist may create an initial treatment plan to start working on treating and relieving your pain symptoms. It’s important to understand that depending on how you react and improve (or not) to this initial treatment plan will determine future action. For example, if you do not experience any signs of improvement after this initial treatment plan, your spine specialist may modify and make certain changes as needed.

5. Opportunity to Ask Questions

You likely have several questions of your own regarding your health, and now during your first appointment is the time to ask them! Whether you have questions about your pain, your treatment plan, or whatever it may be, be sure to ask your questions during this first appointment.

Top Tips to Know When Seeing A Back and Spine Specialist

Now that you know more about what to expect during your first appointment with a spine specialist, here are some top tips to keep in mind when seeing your spine surgeon or specialist.

1. Bring Your Imaging and Radiology Reports

Be sure to bring any copies of imaging and radiology reports you may have on hand so your spine specialist can better work to diagnose your condition and provide a proper treatment plan to effectively manage your pain symptoms. While discussing your pain symptoms can help, having physical copies of your diagnostic imaging is one of the most important pieces of information your doctor needs to accurately provide a diagnosis.

2. Gather Your Personal and Family Medical History

During your appointment, the spine specialist will ask about your personal and family history. Therefore, come prepared with any pertinent history that may be helpful to the spine specialist. For example, knowing if anyone in your family had similar back pain issues.

3. Write Down A List Of Symptoms

Consider writing down a list of symptoms before your appointment to discuss with your doctor. Writing down a list of symptoms will help to ensure you discuss all important details on the day of your appointment.

For instance, do you have any mobility issues? Is your pain dull or sharp? Do you experience a numbness or tingling sensation?

4. Write Down A List Of Questions

Your spine specialist is here to help you every step of the way in better managing your pain symptoms. This includes answering any questions you may have or clarifying any parts of your treatment or diagnosis you may be confused about.

Some common questions patients may have include:

● What is the cause(s) for my pain?

● What are my treatment options?

● Are there any risks or side effects to this treatment?

5. Be Prepared to Discuss Past Treatments You’ve Had

If you’ve undergone any past treatments or surgeries, be sure you are prepared to discuss these details with the spine specialist. This will help them get a better idea of what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past at treating your pain.

6. Write Down A List of Medications Your Take

If you are currently taking any medications, or have taken any medications in the past to reduce your pain symptoms, be sure to bring a list to discuss with the spine specialist.

7. Always Be Honest

Last but not least, always be honest and upfront with your spine specialist about any medical conditions or medications you are taking. This will not only be helpful for your doctor to create a more tailored treatment but withholding this information can be potentially life-threatening!

Doctor checking a patient's x-ray of spine
Professional doctor checking a patient’s x-ray on the computer screen and pointing at the computer screen

How to Find The Best Spine Specialists Near Me

It can be daunting going to a spine specialist for the first time, especially if you don’t know what to expect. However, you should never feel anxious about seeing a specialist to improve your health and well-being. Spine specialists are skilled physicians who will help guide you through your recovery journey so you can live a normal, healthy life that doesn’t revolve around your pain symptoms.

At Pain and Spine Specialists, we are here to help you better manage your pain symptoms so you can lead a happier, healthier life. Our advanced pain specialists provide tailored care for people within the Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland areas so you can receive the individualized care essential to safely and effectively improve your condition and get back to living a normal life.

Struggling with chronic pain? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you better manage your pain symptoms.

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We are a comprehensive pain management practice with locations Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia. Our mission is to improve your quality of life with evidence based treatments and compassionate care that makes you feel like family.

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At Pain and Spine Specialists, we are committed to delivering the highest quality of care to our patients. Our patient care coordinators are available to answer questions Monday - Friday from 8:30 am - 5:00pm.

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