4 Big Reasons Why Back Pain Is Hard to Diagnose

While back pain is exceedingly common, it is equally challenging to diagnose, since there is no established guideline or protocol to evaluate this problem. Besides, the typical setting of a 15-minute doctor’s visit is usually not enough to explain, understand, and evaluate everything that’s going on in your achy back.

Diagnosing the root cause of back pain requires time, physician expertise, and collaboration between different medical professionals, such as primary care doctors, physical therapists, physiatrists, and orthopedic physicians, to name a few.

Below are 4 important reasons why the diagnosis of a back problem may fail or get overly delayed:

1. The specific source of pain can be challenging to identify

The potential underlying causes of back pain are many1:

  • Problems may occur within anatomical structures, such as spinal nerve roots, lower back muscles, vertebral bones and joints, intervertebral discs, and/or organs in the abdominal cavity.
  • In other cases, your nerves may send abnormal pain signals to your brain, resulting in neuropathic back pain.
  • Back pain may also be influenced by psychosocial factors, such as stress, depression, and/or anxiety.

Identifying the exact cause of a back problem may be difficult because of the presence of a combination of problems. For example, a patient may have a herniated disc and spinal stenosis at the same time, and the pain may originate from either of these conditions. But the treatment options vary for both and providing an inaccurate treatment will not help in eliminating the cause of pain.

See Back Pain Diagnosis: Diagnostic Tests for Indicators of Back Painadvertisement

2. Diagnostic tests have limited value

There are numerous potential issues when it comes to diagnostic tests. But the preeminent problem is that there is no single diagnostic test that can provide an accurate back pain diagnosis. So then, many diagnostic tests have limited value, and some, such as diagnostic nerve block injections may also provide false-positive or false-negative results.2

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