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Spine and Back Health

My Back Hurts. Should I See My Doctor?

If you have back pain, you are not alone. 85 percent of people experience back pain during their lifetime. In fact, it is the number one reason for disability and the number two reason for doctor visits in the United States. Treatment of back pain depends on the source of the pain and the amount of time since the pain was first noticed.

If you find that your back pain is meeting some or all of the following criteria, seeing your primary care physician may be in your best interest:

If the pain does not simply go away, a deeper problem may exist. Since back pain is a symptom, lingering pain may point to a lingering problem. When back pain lasts longer than three months it is considered to be chronic. If your doctor feels they cannot fully help you or that you would benefit from a closer evaluation, they may refer you to a Pain Medicine specialist. Pain Medicine specialists are usually Anesthesiologists, Neurologists, Rehabilitation Medicine specialists or Neurosurgeons. These doctors will work to determine the source of your back pain and determine the appropriate treatment(s) accordingly.

For more information about seeing your doctor for back pain, visit the NetWellness feature, Diagnosing Spine and Back Conditions: What to Expect When Visiting the Doctor.


Causes of chronic back pain

Chronic back pain can stem from multiple conditions including:

For a more in depth look into these conditions, visit the NetWellness exclusive: Conditions of the Spine and Back.


Hope Through Research - You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about back pain.  Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:


For more information:

Go to the Spine and Back Health health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Mar 29, 2012

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University