Making a Low Back Pain Diagnosis


The physician may ask about the details concerning the pain, which will help determine the cause of the LBP. Some questions may include:
What is the character and intensity of the pain?

What are the factors that make back pain better or worse?
Does the pain radiate to other parts of the body?
Where is the distribution of pain?
Are there any other associated symptoms?

For patients that have LBP, several tests may be ordered. X-rays are used to evaluate for bone problems and blood work evaluates for inflammation or systemic diseases.

MRI scans, which are very sensitive, are used to view both soft tissue and bone. An electrodiagnostic study, or EMG, may be ordered if a pinched nerve (radiculopathy) is suspected. This checks the integrity and function of the nerves. Bone scans are used to evaluate for fractures and other bone lesions and dexa scans evaluate for bone density, to determine if a patient has osteoporosis, for example.

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