It is a challenge many of us face. When should we go to the doctor? Sometimes it is obvious, but other times, like when you suffer chronic back pain, which 80 percent Canadians do, it is not so apparent. The pain is real but on the other hand you are trying to decide if you want to spend the money or not. Do you grin and bear it, or do something about it? In today’s post, we help you sort through your symptoms, so you are better prepared to make the call.
Let’s talk about expenses first. Medical care for back pain costs Canadians between six to $12 million a year, not including missed work days . According to health reporter, Carmen Chai, for Global News, a visit to the primary care doctor can cost you on average around $54 while specialists charge more. If you go to the emergency room, it will cost you even more. This does not include the extensive tests you may require such as an x-ray, MRI, injections, or surgery. Insurance can help offset the cost, but there are deductibles and co-pays to manage as well.
Generally speaking, a muscle strain will usually subside within a few days and is manageable with pain relievers and rest. When you have low back pain, research also shows it can be okay to remain active. On the other hand, a Swiss research study followed 400 people with back pain who opted not to seek treatment still had a pain one year later. It is unknown if this would have been the case with medical care. When pain becomes chronic, as in it is continuous for long periods of time, we tend to become more concerned about your mobility. To avoid further damage or discomfort, you may decide to limit your movements. Unfortunately, this can lead to muscle stiffness, lack of flexibility, muscle atrophy, and weakness no matter your age. As a result, you experience more pain.
If you do decide to see a doctor for your pain, the benefits can include getting back to work or returning to your daily activities faster than without treatment. A wait and see approach is your first option. However, if symptoms do not subside within 10 to 14 days, you might want to visit a doctor who can evaluate your symptoms and rule out other problems.
Physiotherapy is also an option and therapists can work with your physician or evaluate your symptoms to get to the cause of your problem.