Capital City Neurosurgery |3600 Olentangy River Rd 480ColumbusOH43214 | (614) 442-0700
Capital City Neurosurgery
3600 Olentangy River Rd 480
ColumbusOH 43214
 (614) 442-0700
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Why Is the Cause of Back Pain So Difficult To Diagnose?

Why Is the Cause of Back Pain So Difficult To Diagnose?

Back pain is one of the most common complaints that brings people to a neurosurgeon. In fact, back pain is the most common cause of missed work days and job-related disability. Back pain can range from a dull and constant ache to sharp pains that leave you incapacitated. The pain can begin suddenly due to an accident or heavy lifting, or it can develop slowly over time as a result of age-related changes in your spine. For the majority of back problems, getting a diagnosis to determine the cause and best treatment for your back pain is often difficult.

Challenge of Diagnosing

Before your neurosurgeon can recommend treatment, including spinal surgery, it is important to find out what is causing your pain. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. Diagnosing back pain can be a challenge for a number of reasons, including:

  • Disagreements. Diagnosing back pain is especially difficult when there are disagreements among specialists. 
  • Trial and error. If a doctor can't find the cause of the pain, he may try several treatments to evaluate which one works the best, which can then help determine the exact cause of your back pain.
  • Individual reaction to treatment. Two people who have identical symptoms or conditions may react differently to treatments, so it can be difficult to pinpoint the diagnosis.

Diagnostic Tests

It is important to understand that a diagnostic test may not be able to identify the cause of your pain. A CT or MRI scan can help correlate the specific symptoms with your neurologist's findings to assist in determining the cause of your back pain. Diagnostic tests are typically used to confirm an abnormality or disease that may be the cause of your pain. They are particularly useful in pinpointing the cause of the pain if it is due to a degenerated disc, a herniated disc or spinal misalignment.

Back Pain is the Most Common Cause of Missed Work Days

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

The source of lower back pain is often the easiest to diagnose as it often results from common injuries. Most causes of lower back pain are mechanical in nature. In many situations, the pain is due to spondylosis, a general deterioration of the spine from normal wear and tear. Other mechanical causes of lower back pain may include:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Ruptured or herniated disc
  • Sciatica
  • Traumatic injury
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Skeletal irregularities

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing back pain. Unless the pain is the result of something easily identified, such as arthritis or a car accident, a diagnosis can be difficult to determine. Your neurologist will take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination to determine if any conditions can be easily identified, such as arthritis. During the examination, your neurologist will ask a variety of questions about the severity of your pain, when it started and where it hurts. Although a diagnosis may be difficult, with enough information from your medical history, a thorough exam and neurological tests, your physician should eventually be able to provide you with a diagnosis.

Dr. Kiehm is currently accepting new patients. If you or a loved one suffers from back pain, don't wait to find a solution. Call Capital City Neurosurgery today at (614) 300-1105 to schedule an appointment.


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