How to properly diagnose lower back pain

diagnose lower back painAlthough you feel pain in your lower back, the origin of that pain may begin in the groin, thighs, knee, or buttocks. Unfortunately, determining the origin of pain can be a difficult task for many doctors, as symptoms can greatly overlap.

For this reason, a new article was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) which outlines the identical symptoms between spine and hip pain, which can radiate to the lower back. It also goes into how doctors can better diagnose this type of pain.


Pain of the groin or difficulties getting out of a car or putting on shoes commonly originates in the hip. Buttocks pain or a tingling sensation will stem from the spine. Some patients, though, may experience what is known as hip/spine syndrome, where lower back pain doesn’t have a clear source of discomfort. An example of this is hip arthritis, where even though it affects the hip, more pressure is added to the lower back which results in lower back pain.

Article author Afshin Razi explained, “In these instances, similar or overlapping symptoms may delay a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.”

The article recommends that patients provide their health care provider with a detailed medical history and undergo an intensive physical examination that assesses gait, hip and back range of motion, posture, pelvis, lower limb and spinal alignment, loss of muscle, previous surgical scars, and limb-length discrepancies.

Dr. Razi continued, “Plain and advanced imaging studies and diagnostic injections also can be used to further delineate the primary problem and guide the appropriate sequence of treatment.”
Specific diagnosis for spine pain can include osteoarthritis, stress fracture, osteonecrosis of the hip, labral tear, disc herniation and pinched nerves, stenosis, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Dr. Razi concluded, “Focusing on both the spine and the hip as potential causes of pain and disability may reduce the likelihood of misdiagnosis, and the management of conditions affecting the spine and/or hip may help reduce the likelihood of persistent symptoms.”

Related: Top 12 natural muscle relaxers to fix aches and pains


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