Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 5, 2023
Figuring out what’s causing your back pain is a little like trying to solve a puzzle in that you may need to approach the problem in a few different ways in order to really understand the best way to approach the challenge. Thankfully, spine specialists have a number of tools in their arsenal to help them figure out exactly what’s going on in your spine. In today’s blog, we shine a spotlight on six tools that your spine specialist can use to help diagnose your spine pain.
How Spine Specialists Diagnose Back Problems
Here’s a look at six of the most common diagnostic tools that spine specialists use to diagnose back problems, and why each can be such a helpful tool in the diagnostic process.
- Visual Examination – Oftentimes the first tool that a spine specialist will use during the diagnostic process is to visually assess the patient. A doctor can tell a lot just by looking at a person, especially if their condition is causing them to hunch or carry their body weight in an uneven manner. They’ll be looking for signs of misalignment, swelling, bruising or other obvious indications of an issue.
- Chart And Symptom Review – Sometimes this tool is used before the doctor ever meets the patient in person. A doctor will review a patient’s medical history and their reasoning for coming in for a visit to start coming up with possible issues to look for. This process may also take place during or after the visual assessment. Your doctor will review your medical chart and ask you a number of questions about your condition and the symptoms you’re dealing with. You can be a great asset in helping your specialist begin to figure out what’s causing discomfort in your spine.
- Movement Screens – The next assessment usually involves having the patient attempt to perform a few simple movement tests. This will allow the doctor to see how their spine responds to motion, pressure and strain. These movement screens can help to test flexibility or expose range of motion limitations. How symptoms respond to stress can also help to pinpoint the source of your issue.
- X-Ray – An x-ray is the most common imaging exam, but that doesn’t mean one will always be ordered to diagnose your back pain. An x-ray produces an image that showcases the health of your bones and vertebrae, so if a soft tissue problem is suspected, an x-ray may not be the best option. An x-ray is oftentimes used to diagnose a fracture, identify spinal bone spurs or highlight disc or vertebrae compression.
- MRI – An MRI is a more detailed imaging test that produces high quality images of the soft tissues and organs in the body. The technology uses strong magnetic waves to help produce these images, and it can be essential in diagnosing issues with spinal nerves or the presence of a spinal tumor.
- CT Scan – A final diagnostic tool that is often used by spine specialists is the CT scan. A CT scan stands for computed tomography, and it uses a number of x-rays taken at different angles to produce cross-sectional images of bones. It’s helpful in diagnosing a wide range of spine issues, from fractures to tumors and everything in between.
Dr. Sinicropi and his team use all of these diagnostic tools on a regular basis to help figure out what’s troubling our patients so that we can set them up with a comprehensive treatment plan. For more information, or for help diagnosing a back injury you’re dealing with, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.