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Diagnosis

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We can help you figure out what's causing your back and neck pain.

Find care

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Most Americans will have back or neck pain at some point in their lives. This pain can: 

  • Cause disability, a physical problem that limits how well you take care of yourself
  • Reduce productivity
  • Result in needing to take time off from work
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What to expect

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  • We start with a physical history and exam to learn more about what may be causing your problem. We may need to schedule some tests to get more information. Once we know more about you, we can help you with diagnosis and treatment.

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  • A physical history helps us understand when your pain began and identify possible causes, including lifestyle, types of exercise or physical movement. It also helps us understand your family history, including lifestyle and exercise.

    After going over your physical history, we will ask questions, such as:

    • When did the pain begin?
    • Was there an injury that could be related to the pain?
    • Where do you feel the pain? How intense is the pain?
    • Does the pain radiate to other parts of the body?
    • What factors make the pain feel better or worse?
    • Have you had an injury or surgery to your back or neck?
    • Have you had problems with your bladder or bowels?
    • Is there a history of osteoporosis in your family?
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  • After we take your history, we'll do a physical exam. This will help us find the cause of your pain.

    During the exam, we may check for:

    • How well your spine and neck move
    • Muscle weakness
    • Pain and tenderness
    • Sensory changes in how parts of your body feel
    • Tendon reflex changes
    • Motor skills
    • Other signs of problems, including unexplained weight loss, fever or abnormal heart rate, among others
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FAQs

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  • We may do diagnostic tests to help figure out what's causing your problem. These may include: 

    • X-rays
    • MRI
    • CT scan
    • Myelogram
    • Bone scan
    • Electrodiagnostic study
    • Somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP)
    • Facet joint shot
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  • Sometimes lab tests are needed to find out the cause of spine problems. Lab tests can help us figure out if your problems are from something other than spinal damage.

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  • A spinal tap is a procedure to get a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. The fluid is then analyzed to see if there are any abnormalities. The test is done by putting a needle into the spinal canal in the lower part of the back.

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  • A discogram is a kind of X-ray of the discs between the vertebrae. This test helps us find out if a disc is damaged and if surgery is needed.

    As part of this test, dye is put into an injured disc using a shot. You're also given medication to help you relax as well as a local anesthetic to numb the area. This test takes about 40 minutes.

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Conditions we treat

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Helpful resources

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