When people head to the doctor for lower back pain, they want fixes, and quick. After all, backaches are miserable. Plus, they keep you sidelined from activities you enjoy. With a proper diagnosis, your doctor can relieve your pain and get you up and active again. But that’s the key – with a proper diagnosis. You play a pivotal role in helping your doctor determine what’s wrong and how to treat the problem.
Low back pain is not a diagnosis. It’s a symptom. Because there are many possible causes of back pain, your doctor is like a detective looking for clues. He or she needs good information to solve the mystery of your backache. Your doctor may ask:
Be as precise as possible when you answer these and other questions. Your observations are the most powerful diagnostic tool your doctor has. Consider these examples:
Good information is more apt to lead to the correct diagnosis. Your doctor may order an MRI of the lower back to confirm the diagnosis before discussing treatment options.
The more informed your doctor is, the better the diagnosis. And the more informed you are, the better your outcome. Throughout the process, ask questions. Your doctor can explain the possible causes of your back pain and the pros and cons of different treatment options. If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor to explain it in laymen’s terms.
Your doctor may not have a miracle cure for your aching back, but with good communication you can make better decisions for your back. That way you’ll be up and active and feel better sooner. And the good news is most back pain gets better on its own.