Which Doctor to See for Back Pain?

Are you troubled with nagging back pain and unsure who to see for relief? With back pain affecting up to 80% of adults at some point in their life, it's unsurprisingly a common concern.

This blog will cover the various types of doctors specialized in treating different aspects of back pain, guiding you towards making the best health decision. Dive into this guide – your next step towards comfort starts here.

Key Takeaways

  • Physiatrists specialize in non - surgical treatments for back pain, offering comprehensive care plans tailored to individual needs.
  • Surgeons are crucial in severe cases or when surgery is recommended to address underlying conditions causing the pain.
  • Pain specialists manage chronic back pain by diagnosing the underlying causes and developing personalized treatment plans.
  • Chiropractors focus on spinal adjustments and alignment to alleviate back pain and improve overall wellness.


Don't Let Back Pain Hold You Back—Let Us Help You!

We know how debilitating back pain can be—it's not just a physical struggle but an emotional one too. At Spokane Spine Team, we specialize in diagnosing and treating various types of back pain to get you back on your feet. From spinal adjustments to advanced therapies, we offer a comprehensive range of options tailored just for you.

So why endure another day in pain? Discover your path to relief by visiting our clinic or scheduling an appointment online. Take the first step toward a pain-free life today by giving us a call at 509-363-1104!


Types of Doctors to Consult for Back Pain

There are several types of doctors to consult for back pain, including physiatrists, physical therapists, surgeons, pain specialists, and chiropractors.


Physiatrists play a vital role in treating back pain, focusing on how the condition impacts a patient's overall well-being. Also known as doctors of physical medicine and rehabilitation, physiatrists offer non-surgical solutions to alleviate both acute and chronic back pain.

They make use of various therapeutic exercises, medications, injections or assistive devices to help patients regain their musculoskeletal health. Unlike other specialists who might focus solely on the location of discomfort, physiatrists take into account every aspect of a patient’s life that could be contributing to their symptoms—from lifestyle choices to emotional factors.

Seeking help from a physiatrist can lead to comprehensive treatment plans designed around individual needs for better management of back pain conditions.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists play an invaluable role in diagnosing and managing back pain. They possess specialized knowledge about musculoskeletal structures and have the skills to restore mobility and relieve discomfort.

Physical therapists analyze each patient's posture, movement patterns, and physical condition before crafting a personalized treatment regimen that often includes exercises for strength, flexibility, or even pain management techniques.

A physical therapist also educates patients on maintaining good postural habits while performing daily activities to prevent further strain on their backs. These healthcare professionals can provide non-surgical interventions for back pain, aimed at improving quality of life without resorting to invasive procedures.

They make use of different therapeutic modalities like manual therapy or heat/cold treatments as part of their comprehensive care plans.


A surgeon, specifically an orthopedic spine specialist, becomes pivotal in addressing severe cases of back pain. This medical doctor operates when non-surgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief.

The role of a surgeon goes beyond just performing operations; they diagnose the root cause of your chronic back pain using different diagnostic tools like X-rays or MRI scans. Spine surgery often becomes necessary if there's a structural issue such as a herniated disk or spinal stenosis that’s causing nerve pain. 

Even post-surgery, the care provided by these spine specialists plays a major role in ensuring your recovery and alleviation from persistent discomfort.

Pain Specialist

Pain specialists are doctors who focus on managing chronic pain, including back pain. They have advanced knowledge and experience in diagnosing the underlying causes of persistent pain and developing comprehensive treatment plans.

These specialists often work closely with other healthcare providers, such as physical therapists and psychologists, to provide a multidisciplinary approach to pain management. A pain management physician may recommend various forms of treatment, such as medications, injections, physical therapy exercises, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic care.

Their goal is to help patients find relief from their chronic back pain so they can regain their quality of life.


Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, including back pain. They use non-invasive techniques such as spinal adjustments and manipulations to relieve pain and improve alignment.

Chiropractors focus on the relationship between the spine and nervous system, believing that proper alignment can promote overall health. If you're seeking a natural approach to managing your back pain, consulting with a chiropractor may be worth considering.

When to Seek Help for Back Pain

man holding his back due to pain

Signs indicating the need for medical attention include persistent pain, numbness or weakness in the legs, and difficulty controlling bowel or bladder function.

Signs indicating the need for medical attention

  • Severe and persistent back pain, especially if it radiates down the leg or causes weakness or numbness.
  • Difficulty standing up straight or walking without pain.
  • Bowel or bladder problems accompanying back pain.
  • Unexplained weight loss along with back pain.
  • Back pain following a traumatic injury, such as a fall or car accident.
  • Back pain that worsens at night or disrupts sleep.
  • Back pain accompanied by fever or other signs of infection.
  • History of cancer and experiencing new onset back pain.

Remember, it is crucial to consult your primary care providers and any other healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of your back pain and receive appropriate treatment.

Importance of early intervention

Early intervention plays a crucial role in managing back pain effectively. Seeking medical attention at the early stages of discomfort can prevent the condition from worsening and developing into a chronic problem.

When left untreated, back pain can lead to long-term disability, decreased quality of life, and limited mobility. By addressing back pain early on with the help of healthcare professionals, you can receive timely treatment options such as physical therapy or medication that may alleviate symptoms and promote faster healing.

Taking prompt action not only helps in managing pain but also reduces the risk of further complications down the road.

Consulting a primary care physician as the first step

Make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you're experiencing back pain. They are trained to assess and diagnose various health conditions, including back pain. A primary care provider can evaluate your symptoms, order necessary tests such as X-rays, and develop a treatment plan based on your specific needs.

They may also refer you to specialists like physiatrists or physical therapists for further evaluation or therapy. Seeking medical advice early on can help determine the underlying cause of your back pain and ensure appropriate treatment is provided.

The Role of Different Specialists in Treating Back Pain

Back Pain specialist

Physiatrists specialize in non-surgical treatments, while surgeons are for severe cases or when surgery is recommended, pain specialists manage chronic pain, and chiropractors focus on spinal adjustments and alignment.

Physiatrists specializing in non-surgical treatments

Physiatrists are doctors who specialize in non-surgical treatments for back pain. They focus on how the patient's overall well-being is affected by their back condition and provide both acute and chronic pain management.

Physiatrists can offer a wide range of treatment options, such as medications, physical therapy, injections, and other non-invasive procedures. By conducting thorough evaluations and creating personalized treatment plans, physiatrists help patients find relief from their back pain without the need for surgery.

With their expertise in non-surgical approaches, physiatrists play a crucial role in helping patients recover and improve their quality of life.

Surgeons for severe cases or when surgery is recommended

Surgeons play a crucial role in the treatment of severe back pain or when surgery is necessary. In these cases, it is advised to seek the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon.

These specialists have extensive knowledge and experience in performing surgical procedures to address underlying conditions that may be causing the back pain. Whether it's herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or other complications, surgeons are trained to provide relief through surgical intervention when non-surgical treatments prove ineffective.

By evaluating your condition and considering various factors, they can determine if surgery is the best option for you and guide you through the process with utmost care and precision.

Pain specialists for managing chronic pain

Pain specialists, such as orthopedists, rheumatologists, and neurologists/neurosurgeons, play a vital role in managing chronic back pain. These doctors are experienced in dealing with both temporary conditions and chronic diseases like arthritis that can cause ongoing discomfort.

They use their expertise to diagnose the underlying cause of the pain and develop personalized treatment plans to alleviate the symptoms. By collaborating with other healthcare providers, such as physical therapists and pain management specialists, these doctors ensure a comprehensive approach to managing chronic pain for those who suffer from it.

Chiropractors for spinal adjustments and alignment

Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, including back pain. They focus on spinal adjustments and alignment to relieve pain, improve mobility, and promote overall wellness.

Chiropractic care involves using manual techniques to manipulate the spine, aiming to restore proper alignment and alleviate pressure on nerves that may be causing back pain. By addressing underlying structural issues, chiropractors can help reduce discomfort and improve function in individuals suffering from back pain.


Different doctors play a crucial role in treating back pain, depending on the severity and underlying cause. Physiatrists specialize in non-surgical treatments, surgeons are needed for severe cases or when surgery is recommended, pain specialists manage chronic pain, and chiropractors provide spinal adjustments and alignment.

Consulting with a primary care physician is essential for receiving appropriate referrals and starting the journey towards recovery. Remember to seek help from healthcare professionals who can evaluate your condition and offer suitable treatment options.