Re: What kind of doctor do I look for, for back pain
Some orthopedic spine surgeons will only see a patient who has been referred to them, but every one I have seen I have not needed a referral. You should be able to go onto the website for the hospital or medical group you want to use and look for an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon. Then you may have to go a step further and look up the surgeon by name to see if he specializes in the neck and back or maybe it will just say "spine."
If the medical practices in your area are structured differently, you may have to work through your family physician, internist or PCP. That, or a physiatrist might need to be your point of contact into getting in to see a spine specialist...but that would be somewhat unusual. I know I helped a lady from the Tampa area find a doctor and she just called up and made an appointment.
If you want insurance to cover the cost of MRI, I believe it must be ordered by a physician.