Diagnosing Back Pain

How is Back Pain Diagnosed?

If you have back pain, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis prior to starting any treatment. Treating the wrong condition can be a waste of time and money, and you might even find that your symptoms worsen in the meantime. For these reasons, your physician will likely perform several tests to accurately identify the cause of your discomfort.

Physical exams to Diagnose Back Pain

The first step in the diagnostic process is typically a physical examination. After taking your medical history, reviewing your symptoms, and examining your spine, a physician may perform several clinical assessments. This may include a range of motion, muscle strength, and reflex and flexibility tests, among others.

Imaging scans

Once a physician has an idea of what might be causing your back pain, a diagnosis might be confirmed with one or more imaging tests, but these are not always necessary. CT scans, MRI scans, bone scans, and X-rays are all potential options that can provide detailed views of your spine and help with a diagnosis.

Diagnostic injections

Sometimes, a physician may use diagnostic injections instead of (or in addition to) diagnostic imaging. Some options include:

  • Nerve block injections
  • Facet joint injections
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint injections

Your physician may use an injection to provide confirmation if they believe that a specific spinal nerve or joint is causing your pain. These procedures involve the injection of a fast-acting numbing agent directly into the nerve or joint in question. If this immediately relieves your pain, the targeted nerve or joint is likely the cause.

You can get started with treatment once you have an official back pain diagnosis. Therapeutic injections, medications, physical therapy, and exercises are all potential options. Surgery may be an option as well, although it is not necessary for every situation. Often, your physician may recommend conservative therapies after a back pain diagnosis, with surgery saved as a last resort.

Treatment Options

While back pain can sometimes go away on its own, it’s best to consult with a physician if you experience discomfort for several consecutive days. Delaying a diagnosis and treatment can allow the pain to worsen, so it’s important to promptly seek medical attention in order to help you find the relief you need.

At BEST Health System, we believe in a conservative approach to surgery. Our board-certified surgeons always try to help patients find the most effective, least invasive treatment option. Our minimally invasive procedures allow for smaller incisions, less pain, and a faster recovery time, all on an outpatient basis. Contact BEST Health System to learn more today.