Back Pain Diagnosis ~ Health Guide

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Back Pain Diagnosis

Written by Mystic on Thursday, September 13, 2007

Doctors rely on results of a physical exam and the patient's description of the pain, including when it began, when making an initial diagnosis.
You will be asked to walk, stand, bend, and sit while the doctor carefully watches your movement and range of motion. The doctor will feel your spine, check your reflexes, and look for weakness, changes in sensation, or for other abnormalities. If symptoms persist, additional tests may be ordered depending on your age, complaints, and medical history.

Blood tests and a spinal x-ray are typically ordered in patients under age 20 or over age 50, or if there has been trauma to the spine, a history of substance abuse, cancer, prolonged steroid use, weight loss without dieting, pain that increases at night or when resting, or if signs of neurological problems are present. X-rays and other tests generally are not called for unless the pain persists for more than a month or special circumstances exist (you have had trauma to the back, cancer, extensive drug use, or other problems).

Computed tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and x-rays of the spine often show abnormalities, even in people who do not have symptoms. CT scans can prove helpful in diagnosing spinal stenosis or bone abnormalities. MRIs can show tumors, disc problems, cysts, and other abnormalities. Blood tests can also help determine if an infection or tumor might be causing the pain. A bone scan can indicate the body's responses to a fracture, tumor, or infection.Depending on the symptoms and physical exam, the doctor will determine a course of treatment.

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