A major challenge for anyone with chronic back pain is identifying when additional medical evaluation and therapy are required. The patient’s age, medical history, physical state, and type and location of the pain (ranging from localized to radiating pain) are all important factors in diagnosing back pain. If you have lower back pain, it is a good idea to contact your family physician, as he or she may be able to advise you on diagnostic testing that may help to rule out any serious underlying causes for the pain. Sometimes, patients with back pain are unable to perform normal activities on their own, for fear of further injury or disability. These individuals often need to be referred by their physicians to a specialist such as a podiatrist or osteopathic physician, so they can receive specialized treatment to restore their quality of life.
In rare instances, serious medical conditions may be behind the back pain, and only a licensed physician can determine this through comprehensive tests including MRI and CT scans. This will enable the doctor to rule out more serious underlying conditions, or to rule out whether the causes of the pain are more mechanical in nature, such as muscle strain, or more psychological in nature, such as depression. In these cases, a mental health expert (H.K. practitioner) may be called in to conduct diagnostic tests and therapy.
Physical therapy to relieve the symptoms of back pain should always begin immediately upon the doctor’s diagnosis. While this is sometimes viewed as treating the symptoms, this is not actually doing so. Instead, if you allow the symptoms to continue, the muscles will eventually become stronger and longer lasting, thereby making it far more difficult to correct the problems associated with the back pain itself. By addressing the underlying cause of the problem, the doctor can then provide the appropriate treatment.