Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Back Pain Health Center

Select An Article

What Kind of Back Problem Do You Have?

Font Size

How Do I Know What Kind of Back Problem I Have?

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.

Recommended Related to Back Pain

Chronic Back Pain and Sleep

When back pain affects you or a family member, you might despair of ever getting a good night's sleep. Pain can disturb the sleep your family needs, night after night. But experts say that with proper treatment, the chances are very good that you or your loved one can get relief from back pain and enjoy normal sleep. Below, find out about treatments and lifestyle tips for better sleep.

Read the Chronic Back Pain and Sleep article > >

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 29, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Woman holding lower back
Or is it another form of back pain?
Hand on back
See the myths vs. the facts.
Woman doing pilates
Good and bad exercises.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Use it to manage your pain.
Man with enhanced spinal column, rear view
pain in brain and nerves
Chronic Pain Healtcheck
Health Check
break at desk
Woman holding lower back
Weight Loss Surgery
lumbar spine
back pain