Your doctor will begin by asking questions about your medical history, your symptoms, and your work and physical activities. He or she will also do a physical exam. The questions and exam can help him or her rule out a serious cause for your pain. Your doctor may also ask questions about stress at home and at work that may make you more susceptible to chronic pain.
If your back pain has lasted for less than 4 weeks, your doctor may hold off on testing. This is because most back pain goes away on its own in a month or so.
But if you have a back pain problem that has lasted longer than 4 weeks, or if your doctor thinks you may have more than muscle pain, it might be time for a test.
Which tests are used?
Tests for low back pain include:
Sometimes other tests can be useful, such as a bone scan or electromyogram and nerve conduction. These are used to look for bone, nerve, and muscle/nerve problems that might be causing low back pain.
If you're still thinking about testing, here's some information that may help you make a decision:
- Low Back Pain: Should I Have an MRI?