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WHY BACK PAIN IS SO HARD TO DIAGNOSE

April 18, 2020 3 min read

With each passing year we see technological advances in almost every field. We put driver-less cars on the road, but back pain is just as miserable as ever, and more costly to society than ever.  There is no wonder cure for back pain despite the countless articles you read floating around the web. When we discuss back pain we should instead look at how we can improve our existing conditions, in which there is plenty room! When diagnosing back pain, medical practitioners will refer to “mechanical problems”, and speak as if the spine is so fragile that it could break at any moment. There is some truth in the statement, however it is so much more complex than that, which is why back pain can be so difficult to treat.

 

"Has nobody noticed the embarrassing fact that science is about to clone a human being, but it still can’t cure the pain of a bad back?"

- Pain, Marni Jackson


When we begin to try to diagnose back pain we have to look at a variety of factors. Firstly we look at the anatomical structure such as lower back muscles, vertebral bones and joints or intervertebral discs. Another issue can arise when your nerves send abnormal pain signals to your brain, resulting in neuropathic back pain. Lastly psychosocial factors, such as stress, depression, and/or anxiety can cause back pain. Identifying the exact cause of a back problem may be difficult because of the presence of a combination of problems. For example, a patient may have a herniated disc and spinal stenosis at the same time, and the pain may originate from either of these conditions. But the treatment options vary for both and providing an inaccurate treatment will not help in eliminating the cause of pain.

To make matters worse there is no single diagnostic test that can provide an accurate back pain diagnosis which leads to numerous tests having limited value. Of course, this does not mean that your medical professional cannot diagnose your back condition. Certain common conditions, like a lumbar herniated disk that leads to sciatica symptoms, can often be diagnosed quickly and accurately. But since every test has its shortcomings, you can often receive various diagnoses from different medical practitioners. 

Back pain treatment in the real world is notoriously out of step with guidelines and best practices, and the average family doctor is just not educated enough. Medical practitioners are fighting a losing battle as false information and ineffective treatment spreads like wildfire on the internet. While it’s true that most chronic lower back pain will not yield to any popular back pain treatment, it’s also true that some really stubborn “incurable” casesdo eventually turn out to be curable. People who believed for years that their pain was invincible have still found relief. Sometimes any relief is far better than nothing. So how does this stubborn pain finally get better? Easy: because these cases weren’t actually stubborn to begin with, simply misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly. So many health professionals are inadequately prepared to provide treatment which is why problems linger for months, even years. 

Obviously lifestyle choices play a big part in the treatment of your back pain. You should look to get a daily dose of exercise, aim for a nutritious diet, get enough sleep and use ergonomically designed devices to keep your back healthy.



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