When you first start to have some type of back problem, a big question always comes up
When do I call a doctor and which doctor do I call?
This can be a very tough question to answer. It would be so much easier if we could see each other face to face. Instead, we can only gauge things on what is being said online.
I have a couple of my standards. But, please this is not any formal medical advice or is it something that you need to follow. It is based on my own personal experiences.
The first 24-48 hours
This is the time period after you first felt a back problem. It is also the time that you should use Ice and
Heat I always like to start with ice for at least the first 24 hours after you first had the problem. It could be the result of a fall, an accident, getting out of bed the wrong way, etc. The ice can have a calming effect on the subject area. Then after that , I would start to apply heat. The heat would generally smooth things over.
I tend to give things at least one week before I make any big move. Depending on where the problem is, I would try to rest that area, perhaps lying down some more (but not a lot). Not doing anything very strenuous.
Ok, when the problem continues into the second week and without much change, I start to put together a plan. If every day after this, there is no change or worsens, I jump to the next plan, if things remain the same or start to feel better, I will tend to ride it out.
When you hit this period and its the same or worse, its time to start to call the doctor. The first call, I would generally make would be to my primary care physician. They are the generalist and can pretty much size up your situation. That could mean some low dosage pain medications, a script for a couple of weeks of physical therapy, perhaps scheduling a mri, etc.
From that point on, the primary care physician can make recommendations to continue as is, seek a spinal specialist, etc
So, for me, its the 3 week time frame that I use to evaluate a given situation and then decide on what to do. As I started out with this thread, these are my views only. Each of us need to evaluate ourselves to determine what the situation is. Everyone has a different pain threshold, so that comes into play. Based on what caused the problem (ie Car accident vs picking up something wrong) plays a key role.
Listen to your body, dont jump to any conclusions. I can not tell you how many threads I have read over the years here when a member talks about their new back pain, what to do, who to call, etc, when after a few days, the problem goes away.
But I will stress this. IF you feel that something is really wrong, do not wait any time period to call your doctor. Its much safer to see the doctor and have them tell you it is basically a strain vs not seeing a doctor only to have a very bad disc herniation and nerve impingement.
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences