Finding a back pain doctor near you can be one of the most challenging parts of dealing with chronic back pain. This problem can be compounded if you have limited options for your insurance or live in a rural area or small town. Even with these obstacles, there are still strategies you can use if you’re struggling to “find a back pain doctor near me.”
How to find a back pain doctor near me
If finding a primary care physician seems hard, locating a specialist for chronic pain can seem nearly impossible. There are a number of steps to take to find a qualified, compassionate back pain doctor near you. To start, use Spine-Health.com’s guide to finding the right pain doctor for the type of pain you’re experiencing. Back.com also has another shorter guide for finding the right doctor. From there, go through the following steps.
Step one: Talk to your insurance
If your insurance company requires that you get a referral from your primary care provider, this is good information to have before you begin your search. Some insurance companies will not allow you to see a doctor outside of your network at all, so if you need insurance to pay for a specialist, start here. Ask them specifically “Where can I find a back pain doctor near me who is also covered under my insurance?”
Step two: Talk to your primary care physician
If you like your primary care physician, ask her for referrals of back pain doctors that she works with regularly. She may be able to point you towards a doctor she has worked with in the past.
Alternately, she may be able to steer you away from a doctor who is either leaving the practice or who does not seem like a good fit.
“The advice of a trusted family doctor is a logical place to start your journey. Once a serious problem such as a tumor has been ruled out, back pain treatment is often a collaborative course of treatment. Make sure your general practitioner understands the range of caregivers and the variety of approaches, and start shopping.”
Step three: Talk to family and friends
Once you have figured out if you can see any doctor you’d like, talk to family and friends to see if they have any recommendations for you. It is always best to get a personal opinion of a doctor from an actual patient. Online reviews or another insurance company recommendation can only go so far.
Personal recommendations can even include other considerations like how quickly insurance claims are processed or how helpful the office staff is. These may seem like little things, but if your back pain is chronic and your visits will be frequent, these things matter a great deal.
Step four: Talk to your alternative medicine practitioner
If you routinely get massage or acupuncture for your back pain, ask your provider for a back pain doctor near you who is willing to work with complementary medical providers. A back pain doctor who is willing to practice holistic treatment options and work with other providers can be a great find!
Step five: Use an online search tool
If your insurance company is unhelpful and family and friends are unable to give you recommendations, try using an online search tool to look for a back pain doctor near you. They may not be directly in your town, but they can usually help find the closest pain specialist.
Once you have assembled a list of potential doctors from recommendations and internet searches, visit one of the following sites:
These sites list data like qualifications, any disciplinary actions, and professional memberships or affiliations. Many of them also have up-to-date contact information and reviews from current and former patients.
Conversely, you can simply search Google for “back pain doctor near me” for the beginning of a list of back pain doctors near you, that you can then look up on one of the reviewing websites.
Why visit a back pain doctor near me in the first place?
If you have a primary care physician who has been treating your back pain for years, you may wonder why it even matters if you go to a pain management specialist for your back pain. After all, don’t they have the same information?
Not necessarily. Pain management specialists focus on pain conditions. A primary care physician does have training for pain management, but their training is only meant to be an overview. Pain management specialists have focused their training on research, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic pain conditions. They study what makes pain happen in the body and the mind, applying many different treatments and diagnostic tools. A primary care physician can diagnose lower back pain, but a back pain doctor near you will work to trace the origins of the pain and treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
This does not mean that primary care physicians are bad at what they do. Their training is very general, and a back pain doctor’s training is much more specialized. If you have been suffering from chronic pain for years, it may be time to visit a back pain doctor.
How to prepare for your first visit
Once you find a back pain doctor near you, schedule an appointment and get ready. You will need to gather any medical information you have, including previous diagnostic tests. You will also want to bring any prescriptions you are currently taking and make a note of supplements or over-the-counter medications you are taking (and when).
Your new back pain doctor will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam. Your doctor may want to run diagnostic tests like an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These two tools can help your doctor identify any structural issues that may be causing your chronic back pain.
After the tests are run and the exam is complete, your back pain doctor will discuss whatever they find and offer treatment options. As a pain specialist, they may be able to offer more options than you previously knew existed. You can take time to consider your options, maybe even consulting your primary care physician, before making any decisions about treatment.
Finding a qualified back pain doctor near you can be intimidating. How did you find your current back pain doctor?