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 consultation with an online back pain specialist can solve these issues. A skilled pain specialist or patient care coordinator can offer immediate help by accessing your needs and initiating treatment, determining the severity of your back pain, and scheduling an appointment for you with the right medical care provider, the first time around. The online expert can help you determine if a conservative medical approach should be attempted first. If conservative treatment is the right first step, we will formulate and initiate a treatment plan by the end of the consultation so you never have to wait to see your PCP. If your back pain has any worrisome or unusual symptoms, the online expert will refer you the right medical specialist and immediately make an appointment for you. The online expert can also coordinate the necessary medical imaging tailored to you and the doctor you will see so you do not lose more time between doctor appointments.