Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in Broward County – Acute Low Back Pain: When is it time to see a specialist?

Acute Low Back Pain is a very common condition. In fact, it is the second most common reason for a visit to the doctor. It can vary in intensity but it is not uncommon to be so severe patients seek immediate help in the emergency room or urgent care center. Fortunately, most episodes of back pain are benign and resolve within a short period of rest and gradual return to normal activities. Infrequently, acute back pain may represent a more serious medical attention that requires timely evaluation and intervention. What are the causes of Acute Low Back Pain? What are the possible treatment options? And most importantly, when should you seek help from a orthopedic spine doctor?

Acute Low Back Pain – Presentation and Symptoms

As noted above most episodes of back pain are related to degenerative conditions of the spine which gradually improve and can be treated with non invasive modalities. Less frequently back pain may represent a more serious condition such as infection, nerve injury, tumor, or other medical conditions requiring prompt treatment. The nature, location, and character of the pain are very important features which help your physician assess the possible causes of your pain and determine what further workup and treatment might be necessary. Most benign, degenerative causes of back pain involve and an aching or burning sensation in the lower back which is worse with activities, especially bending, lifting, twisting and prolonged sitting, especially in a car. If the degenerative process irritates a nerve the pain may radiate to the buttock, hip and leg and might include numbness or tingling. Severe disabling pain, especially pain at rest, weakness of the lower extremities, or constitutional symptoms such as fevers, night pain, or weight los are red flags that should prompt immediate and thorough workup with an orthopaedic spine specialist.


There are many possible sources of acute low back pain but by far the most common is a disc tear or herniation. Disc herniations typically occur between the ages of 30-60 and often present as the gradual or sudden onset of aching or burning pain in the lower back, buttock, or hip area. The pain can become quite severe but usually resolves over 4-8 weeks. The pain is worse with activities especially bending lifting and twisting and even prolonged sitting, especially driving. Most episodes will improve with a short period of rest, prudent use of NSAIDs, and gradual increase in activity and mobility as symptoms allow. Back pain that does not improve or severe episodes of pain should prompt a visit with your doctor or orthopaedic spine surgeon. Our orthopedic surgeon in Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach will be able to diagnose the cause of your pain.


Most episodes of acute low back pain improve with a short period of rest, NSAIDs, and gradual return to normal activities. Pain that does not improve or is severe in nature likely requires further evaluation and treatment. The most important step is obtaining a specific and accurate diagnosis with an orthopaedic spine surgeon. The majority of cases are related to disc tears or herniations and will respond to targeted use of NSAIDs (anti inflammatories such as naproxen or ibuprofen), pain medications, and or muscle relaxants, followed by a structured therapy and rehabilitation program.

More severe episodes may best be treated by early intervention with steroid injections to reduce the acute inflammation associated with disc herniations. Rarely, disc herniations fail to improve or worsen to include nerve injury and may require surgical management which is very effective and can be performed in an outpatient setting. Of course, there are other possible causes for back pain and your doctor can best determine the correct and optimal treatment for your condition.

You don’t have to live with a painful back. Talk to your doctor, identify and appropriately treat your condition, and get back to enjoying an active and healthy

Dr. Matthew Hepler – your best choice for an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in Broward County

If you live in Broward County or Palm Beach County and are looking for an orthopedic doctor, Dr. Matthew Hepler is your best option. He is a Board Certified Spine Surgeon with 20 years experience and leading expertise in the operative and non operative treatment of the spine in Palm Beach County. Check our website for further information on spine conditions and their treatment or schedule an appointment at one of our facilities. Let us help get you back to enjoying an active and healthy lifestyle.

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