If you suffer from back pain, you've probably tried one or two ways to ease it. The range of options — from doing nothing at all to having surgery — is quite large. But the abundance of choices also presents a challenge. How do you know which therapy is right for you?
Before you decide on a course of treatment, keep these four things in mind.
- Identifying the type of back disorder you suffer from is the first — and most important — step in finding how best to treat it. Although options abound, not all are appropriate for your specific back problem.
- Whether you're experiencing back pain for the first time or you've suffered a relapse, seek the advice of an experienced, certified, and well-recommended health specialist. That might be an internist, family practitioner, orthopedist, rheumatologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, or physiatrist.
- Be an active participant in your care. Learn as much as you can about the risks and benefits of the treatments you are considering. Be clear on your treatment goals. Perhaps you don't intend to hike up a mountain, but you do want to go on that long-awaited trip and enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Don't be afraid to question advice. If a health professional recommends an invasive, experimental, or expensive treatment, consider seeking a second opinion from a physician who frequently deals with your specific condition.
How you decide to manage your back pain will ultimately depend on many things. Taking all these factors into account will help you and your physician determine which of the available options are right for you.
For more on healing your aching back, buy Back Pain, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.