There is no shortage of spine specialists in the Tampa Bay area, so the most difficult part of choosing one is often a matter of narrowing down the list. However, by taking your time and keeping several key factors in mind, you can find a doctor who is qualified and trust worthy. After all, the health of your spine is certainly nothing to take lightly and you want a medical professional who has exceptional training and expertise along with a comforting bedside manner.
Talking to Your Primary Care Physician
A great way to start compiling a list of potential spine specialists in the Tampa Bay area is to ask your primary care physician if he or she has any recommendations. Your physician is likely already familiar with your spine condition and may know somebody, personally or professionally, who is ethical and has experience treating your particular ailment. However, keep in mind that doctors are in business just like any other working professional, and they often refer patients to each other as a form of good business practice. Take your physicianÂ’s recommendations into consideration, certainly, but by no means consider them the final word on the matter.
Doing Your Own Research
Doing an Internet search for spine specialists in the Tampa Bay area is a good place to start generating an initial list of potential doctors. Determine how far you are willing to travel to see your spine doctor Â– 10 minutes? 45 minutes? Â– and do geographical searches specifically within that radius. At this stage in your search, however, keep in mind that any doctor can be listed in an online directory and any doctor can have a website. A spine specialistÂ’s web presence is by no means a testament to his or her expertise.
As you look for specialists in your area, be sure to specify the exact type of doctor you are looking for. Search for doctors who have experience treating the particular spine condition that you are suffering from. For instance, you may want to see an orthopedist, a neurologist, a rheumatologist, an osteopath, or a neurosurgeon. These specialists may be familiar with different types of spinal conditions such as:
Â• Orthopedist Â– This type of doctor treats conditions involving the musculoskeletal system; if you have a herniated disc or bulging disc in your spine, you may want to see an orthopedist.
Â• Neurologist Â– A neurologist specializes in problems involving the nervous system, so this may be the right choice for you if your spinal cord or spinal nerve roots are damaged.
Â• Rheumatologist Â– This type of specialist will treat issues involving pain, swelling, and inflammation; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia are common conditions that rheumatologists deal with.
Â• Neurosurgeon Â– Neurosurgeons generally focus on the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord; surgeons should generally only be consulted for severe spine conditions that have not responded to conservative (nonsurgical) treatments.
There are certainly other medical professionals that deal with the spine, including physical therapists, osteopaths, physiatrists, and chiropractors. A cursory look at a doctorÂ’s website or a quick phone call to their office should be enough to confirm whether the doctor has experience treating your particular condition.
Reading Reviews from Patients
As you conduct your research to determine which spine specialist in the Tampa Bay area is best suited to treat your back or neck condition, reading reviews and testimonials from patients can be extremely beneficial. Most doctors provide lists of their patients who are willing to serve as references Â– if they are not eager to provide this information, take that as a red flag and keep searching. You can also find unbiased reviews on community message boards and in chat rooms to get the inside scoop on the specialist that you are considering. But just remember, no matter how much research you do or how many reviews you read, nothing can (or should) replace your gut instinct when you meet a doctor. So, once you have a list of three or four specialists that you believe fit your criteria in terms of experience and expertise, meet with each of them individually and see who you feel comfortable with, who answers your questions, and who seems like they have your best interest at heart.
John Soland is an experienced writer who has contributed to a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Soland is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to back pain.