As a general rule, doctors don’t order extensive diagnostic tests to confirm back pain. There are, however, some steps doctors can take to further pinpoint the problem to narrow down treatment options – or determine why some initial treatments aren’t working all that well – before requesting further testing.
Doctors typically start testing for back pain by determining how well you can walk, sit and move your legs with verbal prompts. In-office testing may also include:
- Reflex testing
- Gently pressing on specific areas of the back
- Range-of-motion testing (how far you can move your arms from one side to the other without pain)
If pain is determined to be more intense or persistent, doctors often resort to the following diagnostic tests to further determine the cause and location of the pain:
An x-ray won’t show the exact area of the vertebrae that’s likely causing pain, although it can identify spinal misalignment.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
An MRI provides a better look inside of the body, often indicating the location of herniated disks and bone spurs and issues with muscles and tendons supporting the spine. Computerized tomography (CT) scans can also produce similar results.
Considered a rare diagnostic test for back pain, bone scans can be used to identify compression fractures caused by osteoporosis and tumors possibly affecting the back.
An EMG test determines the health of muscles in the back through careful measurement of electrical impulses generated by these muscles. A velocity test (to monitor nerve impulses) is usually performed with an EMG.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a Tylenol and seeing if a little rest helps relieve back pain. However, it’s a good idea to report any persistent pain to your doctor sooner rather than later. Depending on your symptoms, he or she will be able to provide you with treatment options, or may refer you to a local spine surgeon in Beverly Hills who can further look into your options.
If you are living with chronic back pain and feel that surgery is the best option to relieve pain, schedule an in-person consultation with The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and allow our advanced diagnostic team to help you pinpoint the cause of your pain. Medical Director, Dr. Hyun Bae, specializes in minimally invasive surgery and is on the cutting-edge of the industry, performing procedures such as stem cell regeneration, and surgeries with Mobi-C and Coflex implants. Call us today at 310-828-7757.