Many people consult one or more health care provider for advice, education and treatment when they experience back and leg pain. The following professionals can do a complete physical assessment and provide advice, education and treatment.
These are medical doctors who have the ability to order medically necessary scans or other tests, to write prescriptions for pain medication as required and to make referrals to specialist physicians and other health care providers. They also often play a role in providing the documentation necessary for patients to take time off and return to work.
These professionals have detailed knowledge about how the body works, along with the skills needed to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of musculoskeletal complaints. They prescribe personalized exercises and work with the patient to help maintain and restore maximum movement and function. Many use manual therapy to help relieve symptoms. Patients also receive ongoing education about how to recover more quickly and how to reduce chances of another episode—often by changing or limiting certain kinds of movements and activity.
These professionals practice a drug-free, manual approach to care that includes assessment, diagnosis and treatment. They usually focus on disorders related to the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. Chiropractors prescribe personalized exercises and work with patients to help maintain and restore maximum movement and function. They also provide hands-on mechanical therapy that may help relieve symptoms. Patients also receive ongoing education about activity, lifestyle modification and ways to avoid another attack.
If your family doctor feels there’s a reason to do so, he or she will refer you to a spine surgeon—this could be either an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon (see When Surgery Is An Option). Many surgeons now work in teams with physiotherapists, chiropractors and nurses. Meeting one of the team members may be your first stop. You’ll likely undergo another detailed assessment aimed at identifying specific problems in your spine and helping the surgeon decide if surgery is a reasonable option.
Other types of health professionals that can also help people manage their pain are:
- Massage Therapists
Massage therapy involves rubbing and placing pressure on specific parts of the body, including muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Treatment should be delivered by registered massage therapists (RMTs).
Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into various points on the body to help relieve pain. Treatment should be delivered by a trained and certified acupuncturist or by a medical doctor who has been trained in acupuncture techniques.