When to See a Surgeon for Back Pain

Back pain is a difficult reality for so many people.  Many who suffer from it are initially reluctant to consult a doctor, much less a surgeon.  They think, “Well, I’ll just wait and see how it goes.”  Fair enough.  But it’s important you’re aware of timing and signs that are letting you know when to see a surgeon for back pain.

Many cases of back pain resolve themselves in 2 to 12 weeks.  With the help of stretching, heat or ice and perhaps anti-inflammatories or painkillers, these minor incidences see you feeling better before too long.  But visiting your primary care doctor to ensure there’s nothing seriously wrong is highly recommended, especially after 4 weeks.

When to see a surgeon for back pain is a matter of consultation.  If you’re being treated for low back pain right now, here are some things to take into consideration.


Low back pain which persists for more than several weeks indicates that you should be in the care of a doctor.  Your doctor will examine you to determine the nature of the problem, probably prescribing physical therapy and/or anti-inflammatories.  You may also be referred to a chiropractor.

Diagnostics may be run to determine if there is a serious underlying cause for your back pain.  MRIs can help pinpoint the source, as well as other diagnostic tools.

It’s only when these diagnostics reveal damage to your spine that surgery will be recommended.  Pain which persists for more than three months, when you’ve been under the care of a doctor and a specialist practicing physical therapy or chiropractic, should compel enhanced diagnostics which look at the problem more deeply.

Especially when the pain has escalated and is not responding to drugs or other non-invasive therapies, the normal course of action is to refer you to a spine surgeon.

The decision is in your hands.

Ultimately, the decision to proceed with surgery rests with the patient, under the advice of a surgeon.  A spine surgeon will carefully explain the nature of your condition and make recommendations for action based on that information.  But you’re the one who decides to proceed.

The most important factor in deciding on spine surgery is the way you feel.  If you’re in too much pain to continue with normal, daily activities (going to work, driving and other basic functions), you should be considering surgery.

Finding the way forward.

Spine surgery has evolved in recent times.  Here at Progressive, we’re proponents of surgical options like minimally-invasive spine surgery (MISS) and robotic spine surgery.  These highly advanced methods present far less trauma to the body, offering reduced recovery times.

While these solutions may not be right for you, all the options will be carefully considered.  Your spine surgeon’s mission is to get you back to normal function.  Together, you’ll find the way forward.

When to see a spine surgeon for back pain is a personal decision, to be made under the guidance of a medical practitioner.  If you’re considering it, don’t hesitate to contact us at Progressive.

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