How to Diagnose Back Pain?

Diagnosing back pain is very difficult. Minor back strains will generally not require you to see a doctor. Most other back pain will likely require a professionally diagnosis. For any back pain that lasts for a prolonged period or has significant effect on your lifestyle, you will want to see a primary care physician as your first stop on developing a treatment plan for your back pain. See your primary care doctor if you have:

·         Numbness or tingling

·         Severe pain that does not improve with rest

·         Pain after a fall or an injury

·         Pain plus any of these problems:

·         Trouble urinating

·         Weakness

·         Numbness in your legs

·         Fever

·         Weight loss when not on a diet.


How Do Doctors Diagnose Back Pain?

To diagnose back pain, your doctor will take your medical history and do a physical exam. Your doctor may order other tests, such as:

·         X rays

·         Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

·         Computed tomography (CT) scan

·         Blood tests.

·         Medical tests may not show the cause of your back pain. Many times, the cause of back pain is never known. Back pain can get better even if you do not know the cause.




1.     National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, What is Back Pain?, September 2009.

2.     Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health, 2011.

3.     Zacharoff et al., Your Guide to Pain Management, Inflexxion, Inc. 2009.