If you have a sprained ankle or a sore tooth, the source of your pain is fairly obvious, as is the necessary fix. However, back pain can be notoriously difficult to diagnose with complete accuracy due to the many factors that can affect the spine and anything that supports it. A few major challenges can also make it difficult for doctors to diagnose back pain.
1. People Have Different Experiences with Pain
Back pain is highly subjective. Two people may have the exact same structural issues affecting the spine and report very different descriptions of what the pain feels like. For this reason, descriptions of your pain should include:
- Details of the activities that seem to trigger it
- Times when the pain typically occurs or becomes worse
- Any pertinent medical history
2. There Are No Set Standards for Diagnosis
Just like two patients can have different interpretations of pain, two Los Angeles spine specialists may also come to different conclusions about the likely causes of your discomfort. Even test results can be interpreted differently, which is why it’s best to seek input from more than one doctor, or at least get other opinions if spine surgery is recommended or treatments don’t seem to be working.
3. Reaction to Treatments Can Vary
Some patients respond well to epidural steroid injections, while others may report no noticeable difference after attending physical therapy sessions. How your back pain is diagnosed also depends on how you respond to recommended treatments, which can indicate whether not an initial diagnosis is accurate. An MRI or CT scan may show a structural problem and fail to detect an issue with the sacroiliac joint that’s also contributing to your pain.
If there is any real trick to diagnosing back pain, it’s finding the actual source. For instance, nerve compression from a herniated disc may cause symptoms that indicate sciatica. Consequently, tracking down the true source of back pain, or related radiating pain, is often a trial and error process that involves a combination of image tests and process of elimination.
Trust in Dr. Bae and his team of surgeons at The Spine Institute to successfully diagnose the source of your back pain and recommend effective treatments to help you start living a pain-free life. We offer a wide array of options for spinal fusion surgery and alternatives to spinal fusion, including the artificial disc replacement, kyphoplasty, and vertebroplasty surgery Los Angeles residents often opt for. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to learn more and schedule an in-person consultation.