Lower Back Pain Diagnosis
Once a doctor has gathered a complete medical history and performed a thorough physical exam, certain tests may be ordered to help make a diagnosis of lower back pain. These tests generally comprise blood tests and imaging tests. Other tests that can be used to make a diagnosis include a bone scan, electrodiagnostic procedures, thermography, and an ultrasound.
In order to determine the cause of lower back pain, the doctor will need to gather a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical exam. The doctor will probably order tests as well, such as blood tests and imaging tests.
A variety of methods are available to make a lower back pain diagnosis, which include:
- Computed tomography scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Electrodiagnostic procedures
- Bone scan
X-ray imaging includes conventional and enhanced methods that can help diagnose the cause and site of back pain. A conventional x-ray will look for broken bones or an injured vertebra. A technician will pass a concentrated beam of low-dose ionized radiation through the back and take pictures that will clearly show the bony structure and any vertebral misalignment or fractures.
Tissue masses, such as injured muscles and ligaments, or painful conditions, such as a bulging disc, are not visible on conventional x-rays. This fast, noninvasive, painless procedure is usually performed in a doctor's office or at a clinic.
Discography involves the injection of a special contrast dye into a spinal disc thought to be causing lower back pain. The dye will outline the damaged areas on x-rays taken following the injection. This procedure is often suggested for people who are considering lumbar surgery or whose pain has not responded to conventional treatments.