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5 Signs It’s Time To See A Spine Specialist: Don’t Ignore These Warning Signals

5 Signs It’s Time to See a Spine Specialist: Don’t Ignore These Warning Signals

When thinking of problems with the spine, most people associate them with pains and aches in the back. However, the symptoms of spine defects can radiate throughout the body because the spinal cord controls most motor-related functions. 

According to a renowned spine surgeon, Sariah Khormaee, MD, PhD, spinal problems and back injuries can cause a wide range of painful and discomforting symptoms, including some that you may not even suspect.

Whether you have tweaked your back helping a friend move his home or you have suffered an injury or debilitating illness, these five signs indicate that you should consult a spine specialist from a renowned orthopedic institute as soon as possible. 

👉 Also Read: How to Relieve Lower Back and Hip Pain with Expert Advice

1. Persistent or Worsening Back Pain

There is a significant difference between the occasional twinge after a long day and persistent back pain that disrupts your life. If you experience pain that lasts longer than a few weeks, worsens with activity, or interferes with sleep, it’s time to see a spine expert.

The pain can be dull and achy initially, but it can quickly become sharp and stabbing if not intervened on time. It may also worsen with specific activities such as bending, lifting, or twisting. The pain might keep you awake for hours at night, further impacting your daily function.

While the causes vary from person to person, the most probable reasons for back pain, include:

Degenerative disc disease

As we age, the discs between our vertebrae can lose water content and flexibility, which leads to constant inflammation and pain. 

Spinal stenosis

This condition occurs when the spinal canal narrows and pinches the spinal bones and surrounding nerves. 

Facet joint arthritis (Spinal arthritis)

When the facet joint wears out or becomes damaged due to spinal injuries, it can lead to throbbing pain in the lower back that can spread to the buttocks.  

Muscle strain or sprain (Pulled muscle)

Overuse or improper lifting can strain the muscles and ligaments of the back, causing discomfort and pain. 

2. Unexplained Weakness, Numbness, or Tingling Sensations 

If you feel numbness or tingling sensations in your arms, legs, and feet, don’t dismiss them or treat them as usual. These symptoms often indicate nerve compression caused by an underlying spinal issue. 

The specific location of these sensations can offer clues about the affected nerve root. For example, tingling down the leg might suggest sciatica caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back.

When you start experiencing tingling or numbness, especially if it’s accompanied by weakness or difficulty controlling your limbs, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial. Early intervention can prevent permanent nerve damage and improve your long-term prognosis. 

3. Limited Mobility or Range of Motion 

The spine is central to your body’s movement. It allows you to twist, bend, and reach with ease. If you struggle with simple tasks like trying to tie your shoes, putting on socks, or reaching for something on a high shelf, it could be a sign of a problem with your spine.

Stiffness in the back and a decreased range of motion can substantially impact daily life and make people more prone to falls. The major causes of limited mobility include herniated discs, spondylosis, and spinal stenosis. 

An orthopedic surgeon can diagnose the underlying cause of your restricted mobility and recommend the most appropriate treatment options, such as pain management medication, physical therapy, or minimally invasive surgery.

4. Radiating Pain and Discomfort 

Radiating pain is a hallmark symptom of nerve compression. It starts in one location, typically the back, and travels along a specific nerve pathway. A classic example is sciatica, where pain originates in the lower back and radiates down the legs. 

While sciatica is a common cause of chronic pain, it’s not the only one. Depending on the location of the pain, other joint conditions like cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve in the neck) or viral infection affecting nerves can also contribute to discomfort.

If you are experiencing sharp pain in your back, orthopedic specialists can pinpoint the exact source of the compression to alleviate the symptoms and discomfort.

5. Diminished Quality of Life 

Chronic pain in the back or other spinal issues can make even the simplest tasks feel like a monumental effort. You might struggle while walking, climbing stairs, or sitting for extended periods. 

Even simple tasks like lifting objects can become difficult or impossible, significantly impacting your quality of life and independence. At this stage, professional support is necessary to prevent the condition from worsening or taking a toll on your mental health. 

👉 Also Read: Alliance Orthopedics’ Approach to Inflammatory Arthritis: Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Mobility

When to See a Spine Specialist: If You are in Doubt, Get Checked Out!

The five signs that we’ve discussed are just some of the potential red flags for spinal trouble. Acute back pain and neck pain, especially, can have numerous causes beyond spinal issues. Perhaps you slept wrong, overdid it at the gym, or have poor posture.

However, when these symptoms become persistent or worsen, seeking professional help is crucial. A general practitioner can be a good starting point, but consulting a spine doctor is recommended for a definitive diagnosis and specialized treatment plan.

Here are some potential treatment options offered by spine doctors:

Conservative Measures

These often form the first line of treatment and may include lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, pain medication, or anti-inflammatory medications.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

For certain conditions, such as chronic musculoskeletal pain, minimally invasive procedures like natural biologic injections can offer targeted pain relief.

Spine Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to address severe spinal issues like herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or fractures. However, spine specialists in New Jersey prioritize minimally invasive techniques whenever possible for quick recovery and better comfort.

👉Also Read: The Impact of Prolonged Sitting on Orthopedic Health

Don’t Wait Until It’s Unbearable: Contact Alliance Orthopedics Today

Early diagnosis and treatment of spinal problems are crucial for preventing further complications and improving your overall well-being. When you seek care from spine experts at Alliance Orthopedics, you can alleviate the symptoms from the root.

We work on the leading cause of back issues to help you achieve long-term relief so you can enjoy your life to the fullest. 

If you are experiencing any of the signs of spine problems, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our spine specialists for a physical exam and evaluation of your medical history.

Your back – and your mental health – will thank you for it.

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