How to use telemedicine for back pain

Back pain can affect your quality of life and your ability to manage your day-to-day activities. Often, it can be caused by sitting in an uncomfortable position for too long. But it can be a sign of a severe medical issue. Diagnosis and treatment of this type of pain involve a variety of approaches, and telemedicine can play a role in your care. Talk to your healthcare providers if you want to include telemedicine in your care.

When is telemedicine right for back pain care consultations?

In general, telehealth can be a part of persistent back pain care. For example, during a telehealth visit, you can check in with your provider about changes in your pain and how well any over-the-counter or prescription medication is working. They may change your therapy recommendations during a virtual visit.

You can also participate in online physical therapy, which may improve your situation.

If you have started to have lingering mild or moderate pain, it is good to talk to your healthcare provider about it during a telemedicine appointment. Your provider will discuss your symptoms with you. But you will likely need to be seen in person for a complete physical examination, and possibly diagnostic tests.

When is a physical examination necessary for back pain care?

It’s important to be seen in person if you are experiencing numbness, weakness, or trouble with bowel or bladder control. These symptoms can be signs of spinal cord problems that require prompt medical treatment.

The only way your healthcare providers would know whether you are experiencing an emergency associated with your pain is by in-person examination.

Benefits and challenges of telemedicine for back pain care

Some advantages of getting care for this type of pain via telehealth:

  • Access to care
  • Adapting to changes in your condition
  • Consistent physical therapy

Some challenges are:

  • Your healthcare providers, including your physical therapist, cannot examine your body through an online portal. They cannot detect symptoms like subtle weakness, reflex changes, or sensory loss.
  • Your provider will not have a view of your movements from all angles, and some subtle problems associated with this type of pain might not be seen.

Telehealth and telemedicine are becoming more affordable and can be useful ways of getting your healthcare. As long as you and your providers have a strategy for how you obtain care through telemedicine, you can benefit from this technology as you work through the process of finding relief.


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