Tests to evaluate back pain

Tests to evaluate back pain

Which tests are useful in evaluating back pain?

  • Plain radiographs provide information about bony alignment and degenerative changes.
  • Dynamic flexion/extension films provide information about osseous instability.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is sensitive for identifying intrinsic cord lesions, spinal root compression, spinal cord tumors, infections (abscesses), and herniated discs 
  • Computed tomography myelography is especially valuable for evaluating nerve root compression


Spurling RG, Scoville WB: Lateral rupture of the cervical intervertebral disc: A common cause of shoulder and arm pain. Surg Gynecol Obstet 78:350-358, 1944.


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