Low Back Pain Diagnosis and Treatments

Diagnosing Lower Back Pain

If you have been suffering from severe lower back pain for 6 to 12 weeks and attempting to find lower back pain relief from conservative treatments, it may be time to seek a specific diagnosis for the underlying cause of your pain in ordering to find an effective treatment option. When you come to the Spine Institute of North America, our doctors will employ any or all of the following diagnostic tools to help you find an accurate cause for your back pain:

  • X-ray. This gives the spine specialist information about the bones in your back, and can help them see fractures, tumors, or even pinpoint areas of instability in the spine. 
  • CT scan. These scans are used by our medical team to look for back issues like spinal stenosis or even herniated discs. It shows a cross-section of your spinal discs. 
  • Myelogram. This procedure uses a contrast dye which is injected into your spine, which gives the doctor a better view of your spine during an imaging procedure. It can help them identify issues with your spinal cord and the nerves in your spine.
  • MRI scan. An MRI is useful to show various elements in your spine and can help your spine specialist identify issues with your lumbar discs or even your nerves. It can help your doctor rule out conditions like infection or tumors that could be the cause of your back pain, too. 

Using these imaging methods, diagnostic tests, and a physical examination, your spine specialist can begin to formulate a diagnosis as to the cause of your back pain and begin to create a plan to provide you with lower back pain relief. Sometimes, though, there may be no known cause of your back pain; but that pain can still be very real. Even in these cases, your doctor will work with you to find the right lower back pain relief for you.

Low Back Pain Relief and Treatment Methods

We offer a variety of treatment options for lower back pain. These can be conservative therapies such as medication and compresses all the way to surgical intervention. Whatever method we choose, our goal is to help you find lower back pain relief and help you maintain the normal function of your back. We recommend trying non-invasive treatment options first before moving onto more invasive methods.

Non-Operative Treatment

  • Pain medications. This can include anti-inflammatory medications or even narcotic painkillers.
  • Alternating heat and cold compress on the affected area.
  • Physical exercise including stretching, massaging and strengthening the affected area.
  • Epidural steroid injections to relieve inflammation and diagnose the affected area.
  • Facet Joint or Medial Branch Nerves injections. This can provide you with short-term lower back pain relief and help your doctor diagnose the specific location that’s causing your pain.
  • Discography to determine which discs in your back are causing the pain you are experiencing.
  • Platelet-rich plasma injections to help your body heal tissues such as tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints in the back.

Least Invasive Procedures  

If none of the treatment options listed above are providing relief, then it may be time to consider one of these least invasive procedure options.

  • Endoscopic Discectomy – A small incision is made through which the surgeon inserts a camera to look at the annulus and nerves. If there is a tear, it is cleaned and closed.
    Endoscopic Discectomy – Learn More
  • Endoscopic Rhizotomy – This can provide lower back pain relief to those who experienced temporary relief from a percutaneous medial branch rhizotomy.
    Endoscopic Rhizotomy – Learn More
  • Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation – Thermal energy is delivered to damaged facet joints through a needle to ablate the nerve and disrupt the pain signal that’s being sent to the brain.
    Radiofrequency Ablation – Learn More
  • Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty – These procedures use a bone cement to help strengthen and support discs damaged by spinal compression fractures.
    Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty – Learn More
  • Spinal Cord Stimulator – This method utilizes an electrical pulse that is sent through the spinal cord to the nerve that’s causing the patient’s pain. The signals disrupt the pain signals going to the brain.
    Spinal Cord Stimulation – Learn More


After most least invasive surgical procedures, you should be able to get out of bed about an hour after the procedure and then go home a little while later. You might have some minimal pain and your doctor will provide you with at-home care instructions. You’ll want to rest at home and gradually increase your activity. Be sure to consult your spine specialist before you return to work or resume your normal activities. Any pain should go away in a few days.

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