When Should You See a Spine Specialist?

When Should You See a Spine Specialist?

The spine is a complex structure with nerves that connect to virtually every part of the body. An injury or disease affecting the spine can cause a ripple effect. A spine specialist can identify and correct many issues related to the back or spine. Here are some reasons to make an appointment with an experienced spine specialist.

Severe Pain

While mild to moderate back pain can often be treated with physical therapy, severe pain may require a spine specialist. If you experience pain that severely limits your mobility and confidence, and/or changes the way you act and feel, it’s time to seek expert assistance. This includes chronic back or leg pain that makes it difficult to walk, or acute nerve pain that renders you immobile or fearful of moving.

Bowel & Bladder Issues

Uncontrollable bowel and bladder movements require immediate medical attention. These may indicate the presence of a tumor or another serious condition, so contact a spine specialist ASAP.

Pain & Weakness in the Legs

Damage to the spinal nerve can affect other parts of the body including the legs. This can cause pain, inflammation, loss of muscle control, numbness, and weakness. Other commonly affected areas include the hips, groin, and buttocks.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

Spinal nerve damage commonly affects the neck and shoulders. Weakness, paralysis, pain, and loss of mobility in the upper body are all signs you should see a spine specialist.

Tingling Sensation

Spinal issues don’t always present as pain or weakness. Often, people with back issues report tingling in the legs and feet. This is usually the result of spinal misalignment, inflammation, or nerve damage.

Loss of Fine Motor Control

Difficulty controlling the eyes, hands, and fingers may stem from spinal injury.

Unusual Weight Loss

Continuous weight loss of more than five pounds per week may indicate the growth of a tumor. If you have not made any recent lifestyle changes and notice persistent, significant weight loss, seek immediate medical attention.


While rare, a fever can stem from a spinal infection. Certain types of bacteria can grow in the structures of the spine including the vertebrae, disks, and joints. If you experience a fever concurrent with other back-related symptoms, contact a spine specialist.


Traumatic injuries from falls, car accidents, or physical activity can fracture and dislocate parts of the spine. Chronic pain from injury can worsen over time. You should seek medical care following any injury to the back, even if it doesn’t seem serious at the time of the incident.

Will I Need Surgery?

Many people shy away from spine specialists due to fear of surgery. In truth, only five percent of back and spine issues necessitate surgery. A spine specialist will usually recommend physical therapy, weight loss, or prescription medications, or refer you to another specialist depending on your specific back issue.

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Huntington Orthopedics