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Shari Cui, MDIt’s hard to find an adult over the age of 50 who has not had to seek the attention of a doctor – at some point in his or her life – for neck or back pain. So, when is it appropriate to wait things out? When does your patient need to see a spine specialist? WVU Medicine spine
surgeon Shari Cui, MD, explains.

Routine complaints
Most common spinal issues involve some amount of neck and back pain that may be related to an injury or strenuous activity. If over-the-counter pain remedies, heat or ice, and rest do not ease your patient’s pain, muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories may be needed for a
short period, in addition to physical therapy or chiropractic care.

If arthritis is causing your patient’s pain, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and avoiding strenuous activity may help. Depending on the severity of symptoms, a surgical or non-surgical spinal specialist may provide additional treatment options for your patient.

Red Flags

These symptoms may indicate compression or tightness around nerve roots or the spinal cord. If symptoms are severe, your patient should be seen immediately in clinic or the emergency room.

  • Changes in balance
  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder functions
  • Loss of dexterity in the hands or feet
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain that runs down an arm or a leg
  • Weakness that does not improve

Learn more:

WVU Medicine Spine Center
The WVU Medicine Spine Center is a multidisciplinary group practice featuring surgical and non-surgical providers, neurosurgeons, and orthopaedic spine specialists who address both pediatric and adult spinal disorders.

An initial referral into our system allows a surgeon to review your patient’s case, along with x-rays and MRIs, and make initial treatment recommendations if needed. We match your patient with the appropriate physician for their condition to limit the number of provider visits
and ensure that his or her care is coordinated among multiple departments.

For referrals to WVU Medicine, call 855-WVU-CARE.