Exams and Tests to Diagnose Back Pain
During consultation, the doctor will ask you pertinent questions about your health and your back problem then perform certain tests and exams on you afterwards. These are essential for the proper diagnosis of your back pain.
When the doctor performs the physical exam, he will observe your general physical health as well as your and posture and record the motions that generate pain in your body. The doctor will observe also the alignment and curvature of your spine.
A neurological exam may also be performed to test your muscle reflexes and tone. This test will determine if your back pain radiates to other areas of your body.
If the pain is severe enough, the doctor may require the patient to take other kinds of tests. These usually consist of:
- Nerve studies (electromyography aka EMG) – This test measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. It can detect any nerve compression that may come from the narrowing of your spinal canal or herniated disks.
- X-ray – X-rays are used for many reasons. They can be done to determine if you have broken bones or arthritis. These tests, however, are unable to detect problems with your discs, nerves, muscles or spinal cord.
- MRI or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – This type of test can also include CT scans or computerized tomography scans. They produce images that can show various back problems like problematic blood vessels, ligaments, nerves, tendons, tissues, muscles and bones.
- Bone scan – This type of test can locate compression fractures or bone tumors caused by osteoporosis.
Some other clinical tests that the doctor may require for back pain sufferers include:
- Myelogram – For this test a special dye is utilized to see if you have a problem with your spinal cord or spinal canal. A myelogram exam may also consist of a CT scan or an x-ray to discover more back pain causes or abnormalities.
- Discogram – This test entails the use of a dye injected into your intervertebral disc. This test can ascertain if a dysfunctional spinal disc is the reason for your back pain. The physician can observe the dye on an x-ray and a dye leaking out will confirm a problematic disc.