Diagnosis Of Back Pain

Diagnosis Of Low Back Pain

Diagnosis of low back pain is very important to know the real causes behind your pain and also to decide upon the appropriate treatment for curing it. Low back pain affects the lower part of the body which carries the majority of your body weight. So, any low back problem can very well lead to a serious condition. Generally, diagnosis of low back pain requires a history, physical exam, and certain tests. Also, there are some questions which have relevance to low back pain like:

When does the pain arise?
What precipitates it, an injury or it occurs spontaneously?
Does it persist in the back or radiate down to the leg?
What makes the pain better and worse?
Is there any weakness associated with it?
Is there any loss of bowel or bladder control?

After inquiring about these questions, your doctor may conclude a physical exam in which he will look for:
Tenderness to palpation over the lumber spine.
Signals of straight leg raising or crossed straight leg raising. These are the tests done to recognize the cause of the pain.
Weakness in the lower extremities which is caused by pressure on the nerve root.
Sensory changes in the lower extremities, in the distribution of the nerve being affected.
Reflex changes as they can be caused by pressure on a nerve.
If still the real cause has not been recognized by these methods then your doctor may order some tests for diagnosing the cause. These are:

Lumbar spine films: These are plain X-rays which are good in showing alignment of the spine. X-rays are able to visualize any slippage known as spondylolisthesis or subluxation.

CT scans and MRI scans: CT scans are able to show cross sections of the spine. They are quite good in showing soft tissues like herniated disc, nerves and tumors. Whereas, MRI scans use magnetism as compared to CT scans which uses X-rays for providing images. MRI gives better detail of the soft tissue than the CT scans.

EMG or NCV: These studies are helpful in monitoring the electrical functioning of nerves and muscles. They basically monitor as to how well does a nerve works.

Bone density tests: It measures the density and strength of bones. An example of such test is DEXA test which stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry test.

Majority of times, these tests are successful in locating the cause of your back pain. The chances are rare that the cause may remain undiagnosed.