Observe how you move. Spasms of the muscles
next to the spine can create pain with any of these tests.
Walking. You walk while
your doctor watches you for things like how you move and carry your body, and
whether you limp or favor one leg as you walk. Your doctor may also watch to see how you sit down, lie down, and get up.
Flexion. You bend forward and try to touch your toes. If bending forward causes pain, it may mean you have a disc problem.
Rotation and side bending. You rotate your back by
keeping your hips still and turning your upper body from side to
side to do a rotation test. For side bending you bend to one side,
then the other, keeping your hips level and not letting your body
rotate. In each of these tests, your doctor will be watching differences between the two sides, such as
whether you can bend farther to one side than the other.
the shape of your back to check for uneven bone development or position,
differences in leg lengths, and exaggerated curvature of the
Tap on the spine. If you feel pain when
your spine is tapped, you may have a problem such as a fracture, an infection at or near the site
of tenderness, or a tumor.
Measure how much your
chest expands when you breathe in, especially if you are age 20 to 40
(particularly males because they are at highest risk for
ankylosing spondylitis). If you are unable to expand
your chest normally when you fully inhale, you may have a form of inflammatory
arthritis. These forms of arthritis may affect the places where the ribs attach
to the back and the breastbone and make it hard to fully expand your chest when
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this