Spinal Conditions Require a Physical Exam

When neck or back pain persists for more than two days, you should consult a physician for a specific diagnosis. This is especially true if the condition is severe and not chronic. One of the initial steps in the diagnostic process is a physical exam.

During the physical examination, a physician will examine your body for any external indicators of abnormalities and disease, paying special attention to the entire length of the spine, as well as the core muscles and spinal joints. Reflexes, nerves and muscular strength may also be tested. A physical exam will usually be performed in conjunction with a review of the patient’s medical history and a discussion of symptoms.

Components of a physical exam involving the back or neck

When examining a patient who is experiencing neck or back pain, a physician will:

  • Visually observe the back for obvious abnormalities
  • Palpate (feel) the spine, pressing muscles, vertebrae and joints to determine areas that are painful or tender
  • Observe the patient’s posture for hunching, sagging or other abnormalities brought about by pain
  • Ask the patient to perform certain movements to check range of motion and balance, and to see if certain movements cause the pain to recede or flare up
  • Solicit patient feedback from each activity performed as to pain, pain relief, stiffness, etc.

A physician’s physical examination is often the first step toward diagnosing a prolapsed disc, bulging disc, spondylolisthesis, sciatica or other spinal conditions, although further testing is often necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a painful spinal condition, and conservative treatments aren’t effective, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our effective, minimally invasive procedures may help you recover your health without invasive traditional open spinal surgery.