If you have issues with your back, you may have been surprised at how hard it can be to arrive at a correct diagnosis and treatment plan.

See Getting an Accurate Back Pain Diagnosis

physicians looking at medical imaging Your doctor will typically take your symptoms and medical history into account when making a diagnosis.
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Lower Back Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis

If you have ever wondered why this is, look no further. Here are 4 big reasons why back pain is hard to both treat and diagnose:

See Back Pain Overview: A Guide for Understanding Back Pain

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1. Diagnostic challenges

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.

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

So then, many diagnostic tests have limited value, and some may even be controversial. Of course, this does not mean that your medical professional cannot accurately diagnosis your back condition. For example, certain common conditions, like a lumbar herniated disc that leads to sciatica symptoms, can often be diagnosed quickly and accurately through a variety of tests, questions, and image scans.

See Diagnosing a Lumbar Herniated Disc

But the inadequacy of any single diagnostic test helps to explain why you may receive different diagnoses from different doctors.

See Introduction to Diagnostic Studies for Back and Neck Pain

2. Trial and error

It is important to note that even if you correctly identify the underlying problem with your back, this does not necessarily dictate the proper treatment plan. There is typically more than one way to treat a back condition, and finding the treatment that works best for you can often times be a process of trial and error.

See Back Pain Treatment: Non-Surgical Options for Pain Relief

For example, some people with leg pain caused by a disc problem find that an epidural steroid injection provides great pain relief. Others find that it has no effect at all. So it is important you work closely with your doctor, and are clear and honest about your symptoms and the effectiveness of various treatments.

See Injections for Back Pain Relief

3. Subjective experience

Pain is a very personal experience. What may be mild back pain to one person can feel severe and overwhelming to another. This means that the same condition can require completely different kinds and levels of treatment for different people. For example, over-the-counter medication may be sufficient to treat the pain from a common back condition for most people. But your subjective experience may dictate that you need a more robust treatment plan to handle your intense pain.

See Medications for Back Pain and Neck Pain

4. Back pain can lead to a lack of sleep

The majority of people with chronic pain suffer from some sort of sleep problem. This can create a painful cycle, as a lack of sleep can make your pain worse; and more intense pain can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

See Chronic Pain and Insomnia: Breaking the Cycle

All this means that it may be difficult to treat your chronic back pain because you need to treat both your pain and your sleep problem. This can be tricky, as you have to try to juggle and combine two treatment plans into one cohesive whole.

See Pain Management for Chronic Back Pain

With all the above factors, along with the advances in imaging and treatments, no one doctor can be an expert in regards to all spinal problems. This makes it all the more important for you to educate yourself on your symptoms, conditions, and treatment options. The more you know, the better chance you have of finding meaningful and lasting pain relief.

See Causes of Lower Back Pain

Learn more:

Non-Surgical Treatments for Lower Back Pain

Lower Back Pain Symptoms