When Should I See A Spine Surgeon for Back Pain?

If your back has only recently begun to cause discomfort, and the discomfort is  nothing more than an unpleasant nuisance, you should begin by scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor. Rest assured, if this is the first time you’re experiencing back pain, you’re in good company. Studies show that at some point in our lives, we all experience low back pain. Fortunately upwards of 90% of people suffering from back pain will never require surgery.

For minor and new back pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor for an examination, and treatment plan recommendation. The first course of treatment for your back pain will likely involve a combination of heat/cold therapies, over the counter pain medications, and a gentle activity routine which may include walking or swimming. Your doctor will typically recommend that you return if your pain hasn’t subsided within six weeks.

Should your back pain persist or get worse, your doctor may recommend any number of courses of treatment to determine the cause of your back pain, and to treat it. You may be referred to physical therapy, or your physician may order X-rays. Many patients suffering from back pain recover after completing a course of physical therapy, but if your back pain does not subside, you will likely be referred for other imaging tests including CTs or MRIs. This may coincide with a referral to a board certified spine surgeon.

If you’ve been referred to Dr. Virella for persistent back pain, he will never suggest surgery as your first option. Instead he will explore conservative alternatives to spine surgery, which may include epidural shots, anti-inflammatory medications, and additional physical therapy. If all other avenues have been explored, you may be a candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.

Many back and spine conditions may be corrected through Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, and this sophisticated surgery will ensure a faster recovery than traditional open surgery. If you require spine surgery to treat common conditions including a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spinal degeneration, and others, Dr. Virella will perform that surgery at one of many hospitals and surgery centers in Southern California including Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, CA; Thousand Oaks Surgical Hospital, Thousand Oaks, CA; Town Center Surgery in Valencia, CA; Temple Community Hospital in Los Angeles, CA; Simi Valley Hospital, in Simi Valley, CA, and Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, CA.

When To See a Spine Surgeon Immediately:
For the majority of patients that Dr. Virella sees, spine surgery will not be required. However, it is important to schedule an appointment with a board certified neurosurgeon immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden back pain or neck pain in patients with a history of cancer
  • Back pain coupled with bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Back or neck pain accompanied by leg or arm pain, or leg or arm weaknessBack and/or neck pain coupled with a high fever
  • Back or neck pain following any trauma such as an auto accident, or a fall
  • Back pain accompanied by an inability of feet to function properly.

Dr. Virella has three offices in Southern California for patients’ convenience. As a board certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Virella has served the Southern California Community for more than a decade. As an award, winning surgeon, Dr. Virella has also been the winner of the Patient’s Choice Award, as well as being named a Top Neurological Surgeon, and the recipient of the Most Compassionate Doctor award.

Call us at 805.449.0088 to schedule an appointment in Valencia, Simi Valley or  Westlake Village today.