What to Expect During a Physical Exam with a Spine Physician in Atlanta, Georgia

A physical exam is an important part of any evaluation by a spine physician. Not only can an exam help you show your physician the areas on your neck and back where you are experiencing symptoms, but it also can help your physician to determine if there are any apparent physical abnormalities that may be contributing to your spine pain. From a simple sprain due to an injury to chronic health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, there are a variety of reasons that you may be experiencing discomfort in your neck or back. A physical exam will help your doctor to rule out causes and arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.

Components of a physical exam

Every physician in the Atlanta, Georgia, area will have a slightly different approach to performing a physical exam. Your spine physician may:

  • Manually palpate your spine This allows the physician to check for areas of swelling, tenderness or any abnormal growths around the muscles and joints of your neck or back.
  • Ask you to bend forward This test gives the physician a clearer view of your spine so that he or she can check for abnormal curvature, as is the case with scoliosis.
  • Request that you perform certain movements Stretches, reflex exercises and muscle strength tests can help a physician to determine if you have lost any flexibility or range of motion due to your neck or back discomfort. This could be an indicator of joint problems such as arthritis.

Will I need imaging scans in addition to a physical exam?

Your spine physician in Atlanta, GA, may be able to provide a preliminary diagnosis based on your physical exam and the symptoms that you report. However, imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan may also be necessary for the physician to get a detailed look at the interior of the spine. These tests often are able to reveal bone and/or tissue abnormalities that are not visible to the naked eye, in addition to any nerve compression that may be present.