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When it comes to back pain, your healthcare
team is essential to helping you find
Dealing with chronic back pain can be stressful, and support is important. You want to be sure you’re
talking to the right people so you can deal with your back pain and improve your daily life.
There are many different professionals that can help you.
FAMILY DOCTOR >
Your family doctor is probably the first one you’ll talk to about your back pain. They might refer you to a specialist, depending on what kind of back pain you have or if other conditions are involved.
A rheumatologist is a specialist doctor that is an expert in inflammatory conditions and knows more about inflammatory back pain than many other professionals. They can also have more experience with certain treatments than other professionals. Patients who are suspected to have inflammatory back pain are usually referred to a rheumatologist.
This is a doctor who specializes in digestive health. For people who have inflammatory back pain, there is the chance that inflammation can develop in the intestines. A gastroenterologist can assist with complications such as intestinal inflammation.
This specialist is an expert in treating eye conditions. You might visit them if you develop an eye condition related to inflammation called uveitis. An appointment with an ophthalmologist is usually arranged through your family doctor.
The stress and anxiety of dealing with ongoing, chronic pain can take an emotional and mental toll. Pain can cause stress, and stress can cause irritability and sleeplessness – which can also exacerbate pain and stress. Some people coping with chronic back pain may feel depressed or anxious. This is where assistance from a psychologist or psychiatrist can be important. These healthcare professionals can help you manage the emotional distress you may be feeling, using a variety of methods proven to alleviate mental and emotional stress.
This is a therapist that focuses on movement and may provide you with physical therapy to improve your physical function.
Physiotherapists can be used alongside other treatments or therapies for back pain relief.
This is a therapist that helps you set goals for daily living and works with your environment to make it easier for you to do the things that are important to you.
No matter what type of back pain you have, the services of an occupational therapist can be useful in reducing the strain on your back in everyday situations.
This is someone who specializes in relieving tension in your muscles, ligaments and tendons using massage. Many people use massage therapy as an additional measure to relieve back pain and strain.
A chiropractor is an expert specializing in treating problems by moving the position of your joints. Chiropractic is used for pain relief and can be used alongside conventional medicines or other therapies.
You may have already talked to a pharmacist at the drugstore about over-the-counter remedies and products to help relieve back pain.
Pharmacists are a good resource that you can turn to when you have questions about medications, including potential side effects.
A podiatrist is someone who provides specialized care for your feet. It should be noted that for some patients, using corrective footwear or custom orthotics can help reduce the strain on the back, thereby lessening lower back pain.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
The support of those closest to you can make a difference. Here are a few ways your friends and family can help:
- Doing everyday tasks. Whether it’s a ride to the doctor’s office or picking up a take-out order, enlist your loved ones to help with simple, everyday tasks.
- Helping you take your mind off pain. Pain can take people away from doing the things they love, including having fun and socializing. But find time to enjoy your friends and family – this will help you manage the stress you might feel as a result of your back pain.
SUPPORT IS KEY
"I wouldn’t be able to deal with my back condition without my family. You just can’t do it without the support of your family and your friends."
– Deborah, Squamish, British Columbia
ASK QUESTIONS. BRING ALL THE INFORMATION YOU CAN.
“The first thing to do is make an appointment to see your family physician. If you don’t show up we don’t know you’re struggling – and we want to help.”
– Dr. Kaplan, GP, Richmond Hill, Ontario
LEARNING TO BE PATIENT:
“What I’ve learned is that getting to a proper diagnosis takes time. The doctor has to make sure he’s covering all the bases and not rushing to an inappropriate treatment.”
– Mark, Windsor, Ontario
Yes, you! More than anyone, it’s important for you to stay engaged, informed and motivated to take care of your back pain – and your overall health. By coming to this website and learning about back health, you are taking positive steps to improve your situation. In fact, studies indicate that patients who are involved in their own healthcare are more likely to have better outcomes.
Diagnosing your back pain may not be easy. It’s a journey that you and your healthcare team will take together. Your doctors need the right information to treat your back pain properly. This can take some time to gather – especially if you need to undergo different tests.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Click here for tips on how to make sure you’re ready for your appointment and that your doctor or specialist gets all the information they need
What tests might be given to diagnose your back pain? Click here to see a list of commonly used tests
A list of key questions you may want to ask your doctor about your back pain and treatment.
If you have inflammatory back pain, you might be referred to another doctor or specialist, like a rheumatologist. For specialists like rheumatologists, the waiting time might be longer. Here are some questions you may want to ask if you see a rheumatologist.