Back and neck conditions that cause pain and other neurological symptoms can often mimic each other and may seem quite similar. An incorrect diagnosis could lead to treatment for the wrong condition that may be counterproductive to treating the patient’s actual condition.
Quite often you may not even truly require a full work up for the diagnostic process. For many people a pulled or strained muscle will relieve itself with some rest, relaxation, and possibly some over the counter medicine such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. If after a few days of rest, you are not feeling any better or your discomfort suddenly intensifies, it may be time to seek the aid of a physician for diagnosis of your pain. Your doctor will ask you what you were doing when you first felt your pain, if you have had this happen in the past, he or she will check your medical history to see if there are any indications from past injuries, and perform a physical examination of the injury.
Many times a physician may be able to diagnose your problem using the above method, but in some cases medical imaging or other test may be required to come to a better conclusion. If your doctor suspects that your pain is related to a bone injury, you may need to have an X-ray of your back taken. If tissue damage is suspected you may need to have an MRI performed. When an MRI is not convenient a CT Scan can be performed to find the cause of back or neck pain. It should be noted though that a CT scan, in some situations, is not as accurate as an MRI depending on the injury or condition.
Unfortunately, sometimes there are factors that could lead to a failed spine surgery, and one of them is an incorrect or inaccurate diagnosis. Although unlikely, it does occasionally happen and surgery is performed for the wrong underlying condition. This fails to correct a patient’s symptoms and leads them to possibly months of wasted recovery time. It is very important to have an accurate diagnosis of what is causing your neck or back pain. If you are not certain, you are within your rights as a patient to seek a second opinion.