Diagnosing neck or back pain — questions to expect from your doctor

If you are experiencing chronic neck or back pain and have scheduled an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms, you might be required to undergo a physical examination as well as a review of your medical history.

Neck and back pain can be caused by several factors ranging from genetics to lifestyle or injury. The more information your doctor has about your symptoms and your medical history leading up to the start of your symptoms, the more accurate the diagnosis will be.

Additionally, medical questions and history will help your doctor determine the best course of action for your pain relief and condition. To learn more about the potential questions that you may be asked, as well as the diagnostic process, read the following article.

Questions to help determine the cause of your neck or back pain

Some questions might seem routine, like asking when your pain started and if it was gradual or sudden pain. However, these questions serve an important purpose in helping your doctor diagnose your condition. For example, if you say that your neck pain began gradually and has slowly worsened, a spine condition may be suspected.

If you say that your neck pain appeared yesterday and was extremely painful and stiff, your doctor might check you for an illness or disease, such as meningitis. Sometimes, these seemingly simple questions offer the most important information about your condition.

Questions about your medical history might determine the type of treatment options available to you. Most people expect to be diagnosed and given a treatment recommendation at the doctor’s office. Questions such as whether you have any history of heart disease can help determine whether you are a potential candidate for the spine procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute.

Because the medical history and question-and-answer portion of the examination is important, you must always be truthful with your answers. Your doctor will need all relevant information to determine the cause of your condition and the appropriate steps for treatment.

Physical examination to determine the cause of your neck or back pain

Most doctors will also conduct a physical examination to determine the cause of your neck or back pain. This is especially true for patients who only experience radiating pain in the limbs and not local pain in the neck or back.

For example, if a patient complains of pain in the left arm, left side of the jaw and left side of the face, a brief neurological test will likely be performed to determine if the pain is caused from a pinched nerve in the neck, a cardiac condition or a stroke. In many cases, a physical examination helps the doctor narrow down the cause of the symptoms and determine the best route for treatment.

If you would like to learn about the most common spine conditions and the associated symptoms of each condition, please contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute for more information. We can also provide you with a free MRI review* to determine if our procedures would be effective for your condition. Our goal is to provide you with information about spine conditions and the treatment options available for your neck or back pain so you can make an informed decision about your spine care needs.