Unless you are totally immobilized from a back injury, your doctor probably will examine your range of motion and nerve function and touch your body to locate the area of discomfort.
Blood and urine tests may be done to determine if the pain is caused by an infection or other systemic problem.
X-rays are useful in pinpointing broken bones or other skeletal defects. They can sometimes help locate problems in connective tissue. To analyze soft-tissue or disc damage, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be needed. X-rays and imaging studies are generally used to confirm your symptoms and exam results to identify the source of pain. Scans are also utilized in cases of direct trauma to the back, back pain with fever, or weakness or numbness in the limbs. To determine possible nerve or muscle damage, an electromyogram (EMG) may be ordered.
Having back surgery can be a difficult choice. Typically, people consider surgery for back pain only after all other treatments have failed to provide relief. Even then, surgery does not provide significant improvement for everyone. And while the risks of back surgery are generally low, they can be serious in some people.
Learning about back surgery ahead of time and understanding its risks and benefits can help you decide whether it's right for you.