Even something as common as lower back pain, affecting some 30 million Americans at any given time, can have multiple causes ranging from infection to nerve damage. With Americans spending around $50 billion annually in efforts to relieve back pain, there are many benefits to determining the true source of your back pain.

Comprehensive Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing to pinpoint a source of back pain normally includes CT scans, MRI scans, x-rays and a myelogram (involving the injection of a contrast dye). A professional Los Angeles spine surgeon or specialist will typically combine results of diagnostic testing with the results of a complete physical to determine a likely cause of your particular back pain.

Ruling Out Possible Causes

Many health professionals treating back pain do so by ruling out possible causes to determine where to focus to achieve an accurate diagnosis. This often includes asking questions to determine:

  • Your history of back pain
  • How severe the pain is that you’re experiencing
  • Activities you were engaged in when you first experienced the pain

Classifying Back Pain

According to spine-health.com, a diagnosis generally falls within three different categories: axial low back pain (confined to the lower back only), lumbar radiculopathy (caused by compressed nerve roots) and lower back pain with referred pain (characterized by radiating pain that often extends to the groin, buttock and upper thighs). Back pain is further characterized as acute (short-term) or chronic (persistent pain and discomfort lasting more than three months).

While back pain can’t always be avoided, there are steps you can take to avoid back pain in the first place. If you’re physically active, do warm up exercises or stretches before engaging in physical activities such as starting a workout or gardening. The American Chiropractic Association also recommends maintaining a healthy diet, sleeping on mattresses of medium firmness and wearing comfortable shoes.

Scheduling a Consultation with a Spinal Specialist

If you have neck or back pain that prevents you from completing simple daily activities, it may be time to schedule a consultation with a spine specialist. In addition to conservative methods, there are many surgical treatments for spine pain besides traditional spinal fusions. For instance, today’s treatment options include both lumbar artificial disc replacement and cervical artificial disc replacement, as well as spinal cord stimulation and dynamic stabilization, all of which allow the patient to return to their regular activities as soon as possible.

To learn more about your options for treatment, reach out to the advanced diagnostic team at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.