Deciding when to see a doctor for a spinal injury is a critical decision that should not be taken lightly. The spine plays a vital role in supporting the body and protecting the spinal cord, which carries nerve signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Any injury to the spine can have serious implications for your overall health and well-being.
While some spinal injuries may require immediate medical attention, others may be less obvious and require careful consideration. In this article, we will discuss various factors and signs that can help you determine when to seek medical evaluation for a spinal injury and where you can go in Rochester Hills, Michigan, for superior spinal injury care and treatment.
Reason #1 You Are Suffering From Severe Pain or Discomfort
If you experience severe pain or discomfort in your spine following an injury, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly. Intense, unrelenting pain that does not improve within a week may indicate a more serious underlying issue, such as a fracture, herniated disc, or spinal cord compression.
Additionally, pain that radiates into your limbs, causes weakness or numbness, or interferes with your ability to move or perform daily activities should be taken seriously. These symptoms may suggest nerve damage or spinal cord involvement, requiring immediate evaluation by a spinal injury doctor. This type of symptom requires immediate medical care.
Reason #2 You Notice an Abnormality in Your Posture
Spinal injury doctors do not only treat injuries to the spine. They also treat abnormalities and deformities such as scoliosis. While this condition is diagnosed in children, adults too can develop it later in life due to arthritis and other degenerative disorders. It is very important for the spine, shoulders, and back to be aligned, and individuals with abnormalities in alignment of the spine can experience chronic, debilitating pain. Scoliosis can be treated with surgery or other non-surgical therapies such as bracing or physical therapy.
Reason #3 You Are Experiencing Loss of Sensation or Function
Any loss of sensation, tingling, or numbness in your extremities or specific areas of your body could indicate nerve compression or nerve damage. The spine is part of the central nervous system, which communicates signals to other parts of the body. If you experience a sudden or progressive loss of sensation or function, particularly in your arms, legs, or feet, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. If left untreated, it could lead to paralysis.
If you notice changes in the agility of your fingers, it’s a sign to see a doctor immediately. The symptoms you are experiencing could be indicative of a spinal cord injury or nerve impingement, which requires immediate intervention by a doctor who specializes in spinal injuries to prevent further damage or serious, life-altering complications.
Reason #4 You Notice A Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control
Incontinence or the inability to control your bladder or bowel function is a significant red flag for a spinal injury. It could indicate damage to the spinal cord or cauda equina, a bundle of nerves located at the base of the spine, causing lower back pain and loss of bowel and bladder control. This is considered a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical evaluation.
Reason #5 The Incident Was a Traumatic Event
If you have experienced a traumatic event that directly impacted your spine, such as a fall from a significant height, a motor vehicle accident, or a sports-related injury, it is crucial to seek medical attention, even if you do not initially experience severe symptoms. The forces involved in such incidents can cause spinal fractures, dislocations, or other injuries that may not be immediately apparent but can have lifelong implications.
Reason #6 Your Symptoms are Progressively Worsening
Symptoms that worsen or progressively develop over time should not be ignored. For instance, if you initially experience minor back pain or stiffness that gradually intensifies or spreads, it may indicate a more serious injury. Similarly, if you notice weakness, numbness, or an increasing difficulty with coordination, it could be a sign of nerve damage or spinal cord compression.
Reason #7 You Have a Fever, Chills, and Night Sweats
If your symptoms are accompanied by fever, chills, and night sweats, you could have an infection. These symptoms are often associated with infections that can affect the spine, such as spinal osteomyelitis, spinal discitis, or epidural abscess. An infection is a life-threatening medical condition, and an infection in the spine can have serious consequences.
Reason #8 You Have Pre-Existing Spinal Conditions
If you have a pre-existing spinal condition, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, or a history of spinal surgery, you need specialized care for any spinal injury. Your pre-existing conditions put you at greater risk for severe symptoms and loss of function and independence. Pay close attention to any new or worsening symptoms and changes in pain patterns, neurological symptoms, or functional limitations. In any case, you should receive prompt medical attention from a spinal injury doctor.
Reason #9 Your Daily Life is Heavily Impacted
Spine disorders can be debilitating. If it has come to this, you should get your function and mobility back by seeing a spine surgeon. If your work, exercise, and ability to care for yourself has been affected, do not delay treatment if you want to regain your independence.
Reason #10 You Feel That Something is Not Right
Trust your instincts and listen to your body. If you have concerns about your spinal health or the impact of an injury, it is always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical advice. Your intuition can often guide you in recognizing when something is not right or requires professional attention.
Reason #11 You Are Unhappy with Your Current Treatment Plan
Not all doctors are highly skilled. Sometimes, you end up with a doctor who just does not produce the desired outcomes from treatment. Switching to a different spinal injury doctor may be necessary if you are unsatisfied with your current treatment plan. You’ll know it’s time to switch when there is a lack of progress in your condition and there are gaps in communication that leave a lot to be desired with your doctor.
In addition, spinal injuries can be complex, and doctors have different levels of expertise and specialization within the field. If your condition requires specific expertise or a particular treatment modality, it may be necessary to seek out a doctor who has extensive experience in that area.
Seeking a second opinion is perfectly normal. Choosing the best spinal injury doctor for your care is wise. Wanting a doctor who better understands and respects your personal preferences can contribute to a more positive treatment experience. Another doctor may offer fresh insights, different treatment approaches, or alternative options that could better address your specific needs.
Who Are Spinal Injury Doctors?
Spinal injury doctors are also known as spine specialists or spine surgeons. These are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in the treatment of conditions affecting the spine. They have achieved the highest level of education and training in the treatment of many spine conditions, from injuries to disorders to degenerative conditions. Some of the spine conditions they treat include infections, fractures, deformities, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, bulging disc, and spinal stenosis.
Spinal doctors focus on the spine and its anatomy, biomechanics, and the various treatment approaches that can be used on a range of spinal injuries and disorders. They use various diagnostic tests, including X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, and nerve conduction studies to assess the condition of the spine and identify any underlying issues.
Spinal injury doctors can come from different backgrounds. One such highly qualified spinal injury doctor has a background in orthopedics, which is a medical specialty that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic spine surgeons treat spinal conditions related to bones, joints, and soft tissues.
How Can an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Treat a Spinal Injury?
The spinal injury specialist can use different methods to treat a spinal injury. The doctor may recommend conservative approaches such as medications, physical therapy, and injections. In some cases, surgical interventions like spinal fusion, disc replacement, or decompression may be necessary. However, not all spinal injuries require surgery. A good spine surgeon will opt for non-surgical techniques to help the patient experience relief from symptoms. Surgery is typically considered when conservative treatments have not provided relief or when there is a risk of further complications without surgical intervention.
Board-Certified and Fellowship Trained Spinal Injury Doctor in Rochester Hills, MI
If you experience severe pain, loss of sensation or function, loss of bladder or bowel control, or have a history of trauma or pre-existing spinal conditions, reach out to our highly skilled orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Bradley Ahlgren, at Ahlgren Spine. It’s about time you consult an expert and find a way forward with your condition.
Dr. Ahlgren works with different specialists such as pain management doctors and physical therapists to give you the most comprehensive treatment for your spine injury. He is highly committed to exceeding your expectations.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Ahlgren, call our office today at (248) 215-8080 or use our convenient appointment request form. Early intervention and proper medical care can help prevent further complications and promote a successful recovery from spinal injury.