Back and Spine Doctors

Physicians are back and spine doctors, who are qualified to work in hospitals and clinics, prescribe medicine, perform physical examinations, order tests, diagnose the cause of disease, and perform back surgery. The physicians who have the training and authority to perform these types are services have the M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) designation.

A D.C. (doctor of chiropractic) is trained in the arts of diagnostic medicine, can order a limited variety of medical tests, diagnose the cause of back pain, and perform a limited variety of treatments. Chiropractors cannot prescribe medicine or perform any types of back surgery. Chiropractors use physical adjustments and mobilization to treat spinal disorders. A chiropractor is not a physician.

Here is a comprehensive list of the back and spine doctors who diagnose and treat conditions that cause back pain, or assist in complex treatments such as back surgery.

Anesthesiologist/Pain Management practitioner: These are D.O. or M.D. physicians who may be involved in providing anesthesia medication through Lidocaine and other types of injections. The injections provided by these doctors may be used in both the diagnosis of back conditions and for the long-term pain management of chronic conditions. These physicians offer special skill in injections of painful areas. These physicians may be involved in actual back surgeries, diagnostic tests such as discograms, or pain management procedures such as steroid injections.

Internist/Family Practitioner: An osteopathic (D.O.) or allopathic (M.D.) is a physician who is a primary care doctor offering general health care needs. Unless your condition necessitates emergency medical treatment, this will be the first doctor you will see about your back pain symptoms.

In the majority of back pain cases, the pain will go away on its own in a period of days to weeks, after the strained muscles and ligaments have healed and the inflammation has gone back down. In some cases, though, the pain may linger for longer and threaten to become a chronic problem for patients if it is not checked and treated. For patients who seek medical attention for their symptoms, the first steps in the diagnostic process are the recording of the patient's medical history and the physical examination. Usually, this physical examination will be performed by your Internist/Family Practitioner. In most cases, the information gained from these tests gives the physicians all they need to know before they prescribe anti-inflammatories and/or physical therapy. In others cases, additional tests are needed to diagnose the patient's condition and treat it appropriately. These doctors may refer your case to spine specialist physicians if your case becomes chronic or complex.

Interventional Radiologist: Injections may be used in the diagnostic process to diagnose the physical source of the patient's pain. Injections may also be used to reduce inflammation in painful areas to provide long-term pain relief, and to flush inflammatory toxins out and away from the injured tissues of the spine. In many cases, specialized equipment such as X-Ray Fluoroscopy give doctors a better view of the patient's anatomy so that the needles may be precisely guided into place before the injections are made. These physicians specialize in the use of radiographic techniques to place the injections.

Physiatrist: A physiatrist is a D.O or M.D. A physiatrist specializes in rehabilitation of the nervous systems and musculoskeletal systems. Physiatrists supervise programs and services at physical therapy clinics and rehabilitation centers. A physiatrist offers special skills in body supports, exercise methods, and electrodiagnostic tests.

Neurologist: A neurologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis of neurologic diseases and neurologic disorders. This M.D. or D.O. physician specializes in performing, reading, and analyzing electrodiagnostic tests to evaluate for neurologic abnormalities.

Neurosurgeon: Physician (M.D. or D.O.)who specializes in surgery of the skeletal system, including the spine.

Orthopedic Surgeon: Physician (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in surgery of the nervous system, including the spine.

Rheumatologist: Physician (M.D. or D.O.) Rheumatologists are involved in the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal diseases. These doctors are involved in the evaluation of a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic inflammatory forms of arthritis. Rheumatologists treat diseases that are related to back pain such as osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis.

Pediatricians: Pediatricians are (M.D. or D.O.) who treat people from birth right up through early adulthood, when the spine has reached maturity. Typical conditions that these physicians evaluate and treat for include idiopathic scoliosis, congenital scoliosis, infections of the spine, and spinal tumors.