Top Reasons Why Back Pain is Hard to Diagnose

Feb 05, 2016

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Among pain physicians back pain is known as a notoriously difficult type of pain to diagnose.

Among pain physicians back pain is known as a notoriously difficult type of pain to diagnose. Still, some diagnoses are actually straight forward: these include things like tumors, bone fractures, and bacterial infections. These are easy to diagnose because once you detect them, you know exactly what the cause of the pain is. However, oftentimes, back pain is caused by multiple things at once, many of these things can be difficult to detect. These are the top reasons why back pain can be tough to diagnose:

More Than One Cause

Sometimes back pain can have more than one cause. This means that, even after treating one cause, the back pain may persist. That’s why it’s important to reach an accurate and full diagnoses the first time around. A review of a patient’s medical history is one way to get a better diagnosis. Pain doctors will also attempt to investigate the causes of the pain by asking questions about where the pain is located, when it started, and whether being in a certain position alleviates the pain.

Many Structures in the Spine

The spine is a highly complex set of bones, nerves, and disks. There are many different potential sources of the pain and finding exactly what part of your spine is the source of the pain can be tricky. Structures in the spine include:

  • Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Spinal Cord
  • Disks
  • Ligaments
  • Many Major Nerves & Smaller Nerves

Again, questions about the patient’s history such as when the pain started and questions about the nature of the pain such as where it’s located and its intensity can help back pain doctors find the culprit.

Tests That Can Help

There are three major tests which are generally used to help diagnose back pain. These include:

  • MRI – This test uses a magnetic field and radio frequency to generate an image of bones, organs, and soft tissues.
  • CT Scan – These are also called “CAT scans.” These are essentially like more detailed versions of x-ray images.
  • X-Ray – These can help rule out trauma as a cause of your back pain by imaging the bones themselves.

If you suffer from chronic back pain, call Garden State Pain Control today to book an appointment with a board-certified New Jersey pain doctor.