Most of my buddies at work go see a chiropractor when they tweak their backs at work. Now that I have a back problem (first time last week), I'm not sure who to see: my GP, an orthopedic surgeon, or a chiropractor. What do you advise?
Research-based evidence has resulted in the publication of some treatment guidelines referred to as Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs). This is a set of directions, if you want to call them that, to guide physicians when advising patients with acute back pain. Usually acute episodes refers to the first four to six weeks following injury or onset of pain.
Many people do go see a chiropractor right away. And there is some evidence that spinal manipulation is effective to reduce pain and disability associated with acute back injuries. Many patients also express a high level of satisfaction with the care and results obtained through chiropractic treatment.
Research also shows that chiropractic care costs less than traditional treatment that may rely on more expensive advanced imaging studies (e.g., MRIs). Chiropractors tend to use X-rays if and when any imaging at all is deemed necessary.
Most experts agree that a short period of rest (one to two days at the most) can be advised after acute injury resulting in low back pain. Staying active is the key to recovery for mechanical low back pain (i.e., not caused by tumor, fracture, or infection).
If you have any doubt about your situation, see a medical doctor for an evaluation and accurate diagnosis. If it turns out that there's nothing seriously wrong, then conservative care with a health care provider who can perform joint manipulation, mobilization, and soft tissue mobilization (e.g., chiropractor or physical therapist) may be a good idea.