Lower Back Pain


Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Lower Back Pain Diagnosis

Determining the correct cause11 of your lower back pain is key to receiving effective treatment and finding you the relief you need. The process of diagnosing12 lower back pain usually includes:

  • An assessment by a medical professional: Your healthcare provider will ask you a number of questions about your signs and symptoms, including when the pain started, whether it was related to an injury or particular motion, and other details about the onset of the lower back pain.

Your provider may also ask you to move in certain ways, noting different features of your movement and how much pain the movements cause you.

  • X-rays: X-rays can help reveal details about the bones in your back, including any fractures or cracks that might be causing your pain.
  • MRI and/or CT scans: The images produced by these tests can help show details about your bones, as well as your muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, discs, and blood vessels. These images can help a healthcare provider determine the specific cause of your lower back pain.
  • Blood tests: If it is suspected that an infection might be causing your lower back pain, your healthcare provider will likely order blood testing. These can also be used to indicate or rule out the presence of other conditions that might be contributing to your pain.
  • Nerve studies: These tests can help identify whether nerve compression has occurred (in some cases, due to a herniated disc or a narrowing of the spinal canal). Nerve studies work by sending an electric charge through certain nerves and monitoring how long it takes for these charges to reach your muscles. The longer this takes, the more likely it is that your nerves are compressed (and likely contributing to your lower back pain).
  • Bone scan: Bone scans, which are often used to test for osteoporosis, can also detect certain types of tumors that may be causing lower back pain. Most of the time, however, these scans are not necessary to find the cause of lower back pain.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.