1. Physician Appointment Wait Times
According to research, the average person waits two to three weeks to see their primary physician after scheduling an appointment. A 2017 study of over 4.2 million new patient visits found that patients waited an average of 2.7 weeks to see the doctor. That’s a long time for someone in pain, and seeing your primary care physician is often just the beginning of your journey. Primary care doctors will often start with conservative treatment strategies to initially treat your back pain, including over-the-counter medications coupled with physical therapy, which typically lasts around six weeks. This plan of action is perfectly acceptable, but it may not be effective for you.
2. Specialist Referrals
If conservative treatment strategies do not work, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, which requires another wait for an initial consultation. Unfortunately, in many instances, patients are referred to the wrong type of doctor. A common mistake in the medical community is an immediate referral to an orthopedic surgeon after conservative therapy fails. If your problem requires surgery, they can obviously help you, but often, patients with back pain do not require surgery, meaning you’ve wasted even more time and money in your search for relief. For some patients, the best course is to see a back pain specialist who can treat pain with minimally invasive injections and help coordinate your medical care.
3. Imaging Referrals
Diagnosing and treating back problems usually requires medical imaging such as x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. Your primary care doctor may order initial tests; however, once you see a back pain specialist, it is often the case that additional imaging is needed prior to initiating tailored treatment. In other cases, you may end up having the same imaging done multiple times if your medical imaging is lost in the shuffle from doctor to doctor. As a result, you end up with more delays and additional expenses while you continue to suffer.
A free consultation with a patient care coordinator can help you get on the fast track to pain relief. We can help you discuss treatment options, answer your questions, and find a local doctor that can perform these procedures.