Diagnosing Back Pain Properly: How to Avoid Generalizations

A large portion of a chiropractor’s patients come in because they are experiencing back pain. Back pain, while extremely common, is actually one of the toughest conditions to diagnose, because many of its symptoms are interrelated.

This poses a challenge to chiropractors looking for the root of the problem. Too many practitioners give vague answers and generalizations about back pain. At Ideal Spine, we encourage our Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP)-trained experts to diagnose the patient properly through a careful series of steps, including thorough questioning and testing, before administering treatment.

The importance of correct diagnosis

Chiropractors must use specific terms to accurately diagnose and explain musculoskeletal problems to patients. This may seem obvious, but because back pain is so complicated, it can be difficult to not generalize or jump to conclusions. The following are some of the top reasons why it’s so important to pinpoint specific causes of pain:

  • Treatments for one condition will not always be effective for another condition. Misdiagnosis may result in the patient receiving ineffective treatment and living in pain for even longer;
  • Accurate diagnosis will help treat the root of the problem, not just the symptoms;
  • Misdiagnosis can lead to secondary pain or additional health problems.

Reaching proper diagnosis

A chiropractor’s job is to ask thorough questions and gather as much information about the patient as possible before reaching a diagnosis. This is especially important when dealing with back pain, since the symptoms may lean in one direction before a particular piece of information is revealed, and the diagnosis changes. Diagnosis should include the following steps.

  1. Observation of the patient: Age, weight and other physical characteristics can tell a chiropractor a lot about the patient and what conditions they may be suffering from. This alone is not an adequate method for reaching diagnosis, since some people may experience conditions that are uncommon for their age group or sex. However, this can help lead the chiropractor to some potential conclusions for testing.
  2. Medical history: The patient’s medical history can be a great indicator of past bodily trauma and injury that may be manifesting as back pain today. During this step, the chiropractor should identify what type of pain is occurring, where it is being felt and, when the pain began, and other information related to the symptoms.
  3. Physical exam: Next, a chiropractor should examine the patient thoroughly. The patient should undergo a series of physical tests that gives the chiropractor a clear view of the pain, other symptoms, weakness, and more.
  4. Testing: Once the chiropractor believes they know what is wrong with the patient, they will usually need to order one or more diagnostic tests to see what lies beneath the surface and reach a conclusion. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can give insight into what the vertebrae, discs, and joints look like and exactly where the issue is located.

When spinal experts provide diagnostic information to the patient, it’s important that they use medical terminology to describe the condition, as well as give an explanation of what is happening inside the body. This is very important because terms for spinal conditions are often used interchangeably by different doctors, so the patient should be able to understand exactly what the term means to avoid confusion.

Treatment must also follow a consistent pattern to understand how the patient is reacting to particular techniques. Follow-ups should be scheduled to track progress. If no progress is being made, it may be necessary to switch treatment plans. If no treatment works, it’s very possible that an inaccurate diagnosis was given, and further testing is necessary. However, some people will experience chronic pain regardless of diagnosis; in these cases, chiropractors should teach patients ways to manage pain levels through therapies, stretches, and lifestyle changes.

Ideal Spine trains chiropractors to diagnose and treat patients in a holistic way through the Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach. This method incorporates total-body wellness and spinal alignment for the best possible patient care.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.