Diagnosing Chronic Back Pain
Back pain is a common reality for millions of Americans and is the leading cause of disability amongst those under 45. In all, frequent back pain afflicts over 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64. Back pain can be the result of a physical injury, a sedentary lifestyle, improper surgery, or even the natural process of aging.
In general, pain that persists for 6 months or more is defined as chronic pain. Oftentimes following an injury, pain that persists after the injury has healed can become chronic. Chronic pain of all kinds affects about 100 million people in the United States, although it is not experienced in the same way by those affected.
For a significant number of people suffering from chronic pain, that pain is excruciating, continuous, and affects daily activities. Many times, the symptoms are not relieved by physical therapy, pain medication, or other non-surgical approaches. Therefore, it is important to consult with a pain expert to determine whether symptoms are the result of chronic pain, and to learn about ways to manage it.
Determining whether a pain is chronic requires that a patient visits a pain specialist to perform specific tests after a physician evaluates his or her medical history and conducts a thorough physical exam. It is important to discuss symptoms of pain in detail as well as accurately answer the doctor’s questions, as this helps the doctor determine the source of the pain.
There are three different tests physicians rely on to verify that a pain is chronic: X rays, CT scans, and MRI scans.
If a patient’s back pain is the result of trauma, x-rays reveal any kind of damage to the bones of the lumbar region. Other types of chronic pain that do not result from trauma require other tests.
A CT scan is like an x-ray but with added detail. CT scan images include cross-section images and reveal more information about the vertebrae in the patient’s spine. They can be used to look for specific spinal conditions like herniated disc or stenosis.
An MRI image provides an even closer look into the inner workings of the spine. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio frequency to create the image of the bones, soft tissues, and surrounding organs around the affected area. This provides a highly detailed map of the patient’s spinal cord, nerves, and discs.
At Garden State Pain Control expert pain specialists utilize all known methods to determine the cause of your pain. Our patient-centered approach ensures you receive the best care in the state. If you’ve been living with chronic pain that does not benefit from conventional pain treatments, we may have the solution for you. Book an appointment with us today.