Getting an accurate diagnosis for lower back pain can literally be a pain in the back. In the US, lower back pain is said to be one of the most common conditions and one of the leading causes of GP visits. Yet determining the underlying cause of low back pain, can be hard to find.
It is often more challenging than many people expect and can involve a combination of a thorough patient history and physical examination as well as diagnostic tests. The history and physical examination’s are used to help determine if a patients lower back pain is more likely to be caused by a soft tissue (muscle, ligament or tendon) problem that will likely heal itself or a more serious underlying medical condition, such as fracture, infection or tumor.
By the time your GP orders any diagnostic tests such as an x-ray or MRI scan, he or she will usually have a strong idea as to the probable cause of your low back pain so the diagnostic test is used more to confirm their diagnosis and provide more detail.