Diagnosing Back Pain


Accurately diagnosing back pain is a complex process. As a result, many patients spend months, even years needlessly suffering from undiagnosed back pain. The fear of surgery keeps many patients away from a back pain solution – a consultation with a spine specialist. While it’s certainly true some spinal conditions require surgical intervention to correct, most patients are pleasantly surprised when they learn many back pain conditions are effectively treated using non-surgical options. In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss how an early, accurate diagnosis is used to help patients find a long-term solution to their back pain problem.

Diagnosing Back Pain

Why See a Spine Specialist?

The first step in treating back pain is pin-pointing the root cause. The cause of pain can be a complex combination of issues. As a result, self-diagnosis and self-treatment typically proves to be ineffective. For this reason, it is important for patients who are in pain to make an appointment with a spine specialist who has the training, experience, and skills needed to find the exact cause of back pain.

3 Steps Involved in Diagnosing Back Pain

A Detailed Medical History

The first step in diagnosing back pain is to have the patient characterize their pain according to its location, duration, and quality. The patient is asked to describe movements, activities, or previously tried treatment options that make the pain better or worse. The answers to these questions allow the specialist to classify the pain as acute pain or chronic pain and gives diagnostic clues.

A Physical Examination

A DISC of Louisiana spine specialist typically performs a musculoskeletal and neurological examination to assess the spinal vertebrae, muscles, and nerves. During the examination, the specialist inspects and palpates (touches) the area around the spine, and performs physical tests.

Diagnostic Studies

The findings of the medical history and physical examination may lead to the ordering of diagnostic studies. X-rays can often reveal bone and joint conditions such as arthritis and fractures. MRIs and CT scans can reveal bone, muscle, and soft tissue conditions such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Nerve studies (electromyography, or EMG) may be ordered to diagnose nerve impulse and/or muscle response conditions. These tests may also be used to assess the extent of nerve damage once a condition has been diagnosed.

It’s through this three step process that an accurate diagnosis is most often made and a treatment plan decided upon.

Don’t Delay Diagnosing Back Pain

When a diagnosis is made early, patients can generally expect better results with less pain and shorter treatment.

Many of our patients say they suffered needlessly for years without accurately diagnosing back pain. Some had begun to accept back pain was just a part of their life. After having their conditions diagnosted and treated at DISC of Louisiana, many patients found permanent relief. Their only regret? That they waited so long to get a diagnosis.

If chronic pain back pain is ruining your quality of life, contact DISC of Louisiana today to learn more about your treatment options. DISC of Louisiana has convenient locations throughout the Greater New Orleans area.

New Orleans | Hammond | Slidell | Covington | Metairie | Baton Rouge | Gonazles

This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and links to other sites, DISC of Louisiana provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through links to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use this information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. DISC of Louisiana is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.

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