Diagnosis & Treament of Back Pain

Diagnosing Back Pain

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. In particular, your back, hips, and legs and will be tested for strength, flexibility, sensation, and reflexes.

Often, patients with pain may feel an urgent need to have a medical test. It is important to understand that medical tests are not routinely required for back pain and sciatica. Most episodes of acute back pain resolve on their own over several weeks. In these cases, the information from an x-ray or MRI may not change the medical plan, and so these tests may be unnecessary. An MRI or x-ray is usually ordered if there is a plan to do a procedure or surgery, based on the result of the images. Studies of medical imaging have demonstrated that MRI and x-ray may be too sensitive. They can often show abnormalities that are not truly significant, such as degenerated discs in individuals who do not even have symptoms. An improper medical test can lead to improper treatment and can greatly increase medical costs. It is important for such tests to be ordered appropriately.

Tests may include:

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Treatments for Back Pain

The treatment and management of low back pain and sciatica involves lifestyle changes and may include medication, surgery, or other treatments. Most patients recover, but some develop chronic back pain.

Treatment aims to decrease pain and improve functioning.

Treatment involves the following:

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Back Pain

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