Pain Relief Hospital Or Urgent Care?
Do you have back pain now? Should you go to the hospital, urgent care, surgeon, or primary care doctor?
If you want pain relief now, go to our Pain Relief Prescription for Ice, Heat, and Medication page and try our recommendations. For information on what healthcare has to offer neck and back pain relief for you, read on.
It was 10:00 on a Monday night when a patient called me. His wife was in pain. They were sitting in their car, outside the Emergency Department at Northwestern. She had been seen there two weeks early and was still in an alarming amount of low back pain.
Be a savvy healthcare consumer
For back pain, or any other health care issue, I frequently advise my patients on the best guidelines to get the care they need efficiently, effectively, and affordably. We call it being a savvy healthcare consumer.
Hospitals are for life threatening emergencies
- There is a $2,000 facility charge when you go to the Emergency Department.
- Reserve this trip for life threatening cases from trauma, falls, infection, and severe pain which prevents sleep, etc. The pain should be so bad, you cannot drive yourself.
- They are not equipped, nor do they want to see your back or neck pain unless it is traumatic or infectious. Opioids have been used to provide significant pain relief and were freely prescribed by the hospitals. They no longer do that. At best you will get an x-ray and medication that is frequently reported to not relieve a patient’s pain. Muscle relaxers are frequently prescribed, but in a recent study they added no additional benefit than Ibuprofen or Aleve. Read more here.
- This same study recommended chiropractic care for relief of new and chronic back pain.
- X-rays are not medically indicated for back pain which is not traumatic.
Urgent Care Centers for new onset medical conditions
- This is a better choice for price and treatment. They are not 24 hours, so plan ahead.
- The ones not affiliated with a hospital are just as good, and less expensive.
- They may still take an x-ray which is not medically necessary and adds no additional information to treating your pain. They may prescribe some medication (see above).
- Again, neck and back pain are not their strength.
Family doctors treat colds, flu, asthma, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol
- They have limited same day appointments.
- They frequently prescribe an x-ray which is not medically necessary and adds no additional information to treating your pain.
- They regularly prescribe medication which has been shown to not help.
- Spinal pain, muscle, joint, and nerve pain are not their strengths. Their specialty is internal disorders. They do a great job managing blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, etc.
- Some may refer for physical therapy. Patients with chronic pain, sciatica, and radiating pain from the neck usually get sent to a neuro, or orthopedic surgeon.
- Occasionally they refer to the neurologist if there is a concern about the nerve dying.
Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons are for surgery
- Neither of these specialists want to perform surgery. Most cases of neck and back pain are not surgical. Beside the slight risk of death from anesthesia, there are other risks like chronic infection. Even for those who need it, the outcome is usually less than what the patient hoped. In addition, if you have had one spinal surgery, you are more likely to have another one, two, three.
- They usually start with adding or changing medication and send will send you to physical therapy.
- A slow and regular recovery, measured in 6-12 months, is acceptable for these specialties.
Neurologists, specialize in diagnosing, not treating, nerve problems
- Neurologist only assess spinal pain patients for nerve damage. They perform an EMG/NCV to see if any nerve is pinched and dying.
- They do not treat, prescribe, refer, or do surgery.
Physical therapists do a great job with exercise
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. If is still hurts, exercise.
- It is legal to see a physical therapist without a doctor’s prescription, but some insurance companies will not pay without a doctor’s prescription.
- All physical therapists have their doctoral degree now. They specialize in performing the work that insurance companies prefer to pay for, active care exercise. This means most of them only take patients through exercise programs. Most do not do electric muscle stim, massage, ultrasound, etc.
- Exercise is an important part of the recovery from neck and back pain, but these conditions are more complicated than just weak and tight muscles.
Standard chiropractic care only offers adjusting
- Adjust, adjust, adjust. Crack it, crack it, crack it. Not better? Repeat…
- More than half of the chiropractic profession only adjusts/cracks spinal joints. Their treatment programs usually run six months to a year. If you are sore after a session, or are not getting better, you need more sessions.
- Adjusting a joint is an important part of recovery from neck and back pain, but things are more complicated than a bone out of place pinching a nerve.
Massage therapists work great for whole body relaxation massage
- Muscle, muscle, muscle. Always a knot which needs more massage.
- They do an excellent job with whole body massage and can give relief to tight muscles.
- Unfortunately, the muscles are only tight to protect the joints from further damage.
- Targeted massage techniques are an important part of recovery and management of neck and back pain, but things are more complicated than a single tight muscle.
Our specialty, pain relief with the Rapid Recovery Difference
Every specialty above has their toolbox of skills, understanding, and treatment. Most of them do not know what everyone else has in their toolbox. Rarely do they read each other’s research or best care practices. Most do not know how to refer their patients to get appropriate care from other providers.
If everyone read all the research, most practitioners would refer spinal pain patients to a chiropractor. Hundreds of medical journal articles exist directing practitioners to refer spinal pain patients for chiropractic care. Click here to preview some of them.
Unlike most practitioners, we are focused on your rapid recovery and provide a multi-faceted approach. This is so strikingly different, we named it the Rapid Recovery Difference. Most cases we accept for care, resolve in seven visits. We are always excited with the challenge of a new patient in pain. Even more exciting is releasing them pain free.
If you have tried some of the ideas on our Pain Relief Prescription for Ice, Heat, and Medication page and they did not help, call or schedule online for a free consultation or treatment.
Back to the Emergency Department parking lot phone call. My answer to the patient and her husband sitting in their car; Go home and ice it, take some ibuprofen and Aleve (Our Pain Relief Prescription for Ice, Heat, and Medication). See me in the morning.
In the seven visits of our Rapid Recovery Difference prescription, she was pain free and had a series of prescription exercises to manage future episodes. Always a thrill to help someone get the pain relief they need.
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