Back Pain: Diagnosis and Treatment

Back Pain: Diagnosis and Treatment

Back pain is one of the most common forms of pain everyone from young boys to old men experience. Causes of back pain can be endless- excessive lifting, inappropriate sleeping position, overstretching, etc. Although causes are numerous, treatments are limited and useful. From diagnosis to all forms of treatment, here is all you need to know about back pain.

How to Diagnose Back Pain?

In most cases, back pain is nothing more than a muscle pull and can cure on its own. However, in some cases, the pain can be severe and elongated, which can indicate further complications. If you find yourself in a situation like this, visit a doctor for further diagnosis. The doctor will examine your back by asking you to sit and stand in different positions.

If the cause is not traceable by physical examination, the doctor can order one or more of these tests.

  • X-ray: X-ray shows the images of your bones and is generally used to determine conditions like broken bones or arthritis. However, if you have problems with your muscles, spinal cord, or disk, X-ray alone will not be sufficient in determining the problem.
  • CT Scan or MRI: MRI and CT Scans produce images that can reveal problems with bones, muscles, discs, tendons, nerves, etc.
  • Blood Tests: If any infection or other condition is causing pain, blood tests can help the doctor determine those conditions.
  • Bone Scan: Although rare, but if the doctor suspects tumors or compression factors (like in osteoporosis), he can order a bone scan.
  • Nerve Scan: The electric impulses produced by the nerves and muscles can be measured by Electromyography (EMG). If your doctor suspects nerve compression caused by the narrowing of the spinal cord or herniated disks, he can order this test.
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Treatment Options

In most acute back pain cases, no treatment is required, and some rest can cure the pain completely. However, back pain can sometimes be a complex condition that can cause severe pain for days or weeks. In the case of acute pain, the doctor can recommend over-the-counter pain relievers along with the use of heat. Bed rest is usually not required in acute back pain until the condition is serious.

You can generally take medicine and continue with your daily activities. However, make sure you don’t indulge in activities that increase or cause pain. If you don’t get relief within a few days or a couple of weeks, visit a doctor for further examinations. The doctor might check you and order one for the tests mentioned earlier.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

In many acute back pain cases, medication is not required, and you can get relief from physical therapies and exercises. Some back pain condition is so common that they can be easily solved from physical therapies. For example, if you’ve been sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress for several years, this may well point to the original cause of your back pain. It may also be a good idea to visit a chiropractor in Atlanta.

A chiropractor will examine and then recommend the appropriate therapy. Depending upon your condition, the chiropractor will recommend a variety of treatments such as heat, ultrasound, muscle-release techniques, and electrical stimulation. These techniques are useful in softening muscle tissues and eliminate pain. If your condition improves, the therapist might also recommend some exercises to improve your posture and strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.

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If physical therapies are not enough and the pain persists, the doctor can prescribe you complete treatment. Depending upon your condition, the doctor can recommend one or more of the following medications.

  • OTC pain relievers: These are the initial medicines that are prescribed to patients with back pain. These medicines include NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
  • Muscle relaxants: If OTCs are not sufficient in relieving the back pain, the doctor can recommend muscle relaxants.
  • Topical pain relievers: These medicines include gels and creams that you can scrub on the painful area.
  • Narcotics: These medicines contain opioids and are used under severe pain conditions with close medical supervision.
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants are known to relieve chronic back pain, and therefore, your doctor can prescribe you antidepressants as well.
  • Injections: If none of the above medicines relieve your pain, doctors can inject medicines like cortisone around your spinal cord.


In some severe conditions, when unrelenting back pain is accompanied by progressive muscle weakness or radiating leg pain, surgery might be the only beneficial option. Otherwise, surgery is used only used for structural problems like a herniated disk or the narrowing of the spine.


Back pain is a common condition that can occur to anyone. However, different people might suffer different intensities of pain due to various reasons. Therefore, a wide range of treatments is available for back pain ranging from rest to surgeries. The treatment usually starts with rest and physical therapies, and if the patient does not respond, medications and surgery are considered.

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