Diagnosis Of Back Pain

How To Diagnose Back Pain?

Your doctor can tell the cause of back pain just by visualizing your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift your legs in case of minor pain. Whereas, in case the pain is quite major, various diagnostic tests may be performed to know or confirm the cause of your back pain. He might test your reflexes with a rubber reflex hammer to determine the type of pain, the location of pain, or to know that whether you have muscle spasms or something more. Generally, a medical history and a brief physical examination are always essential.

Medical history
Heart problems, cancer, arthritis and other serious conditions are included in the medical and family history. The patient should report about:
Any history of accidents or injuries involving back, neck or hips.
Any indications of a serious underlying disease like unexplained weight loss, chronic infection, and alike.
Any conditions that may be worsening the pain like coughing, exercise or walking.
Any position that may provide a relief from the pain like exercise or lying down.
Previous episodes of back pain.
Nature of the pain including its frequency and duration (whether it is fierce, dull, or burning like)
Timing of back pain (night or day)
Problems related to urination or defecation.
Other important symptoms like morning stiffness, numbness or weakness in the legs.

Physical examination
The main aim of this examination is to locate the specific source of pain and determine limits of movement. In this patients are asked to:
Stand, sit and walk in different ways like flat-footed, on the toes, on their heels, and alike.
Walk on a treadmill to test weakness in toes or heel walking, if any.
Bend forward, backwards and sideways and to twist.
Lift their leg straight up while lying down as pain caused by inflammation gets dull and is not affected by lifting a straight leg.
Get the circumference of the calves and thighs to be measured which helps in detecting muscle deterioration.
To test nerve functions and reflexes by using pin, cotton swab.

So, these two tests are always necessary and essential for diagnosing the causes of any kind of back pain. However, if a reason arises which suspects fracture, tumor, infection or any other condition to be a cause of your back pain, your doctor may order some tests like X-rays, MRI and CT scan, bone scan and electro-diagnostic tests to confirm the situation. All these tests help in diagnosing the causes of back pain with the help of detailed pictures or images of the soft tissues or other parts affecting the pain.