A doctor will be able to diagnose back pain by discussing the symptoms with the patient and conduct a physical examination. Usually there is no need for tests such as x-rays or scans when diagnosing back pain because tests are not always helpful as they often do not show anything unusual.
However, if your back pain lasts for longer than six weeks, if you have had an injury or blow to your back or if your doctor suspects that there may be an underlying cause for back pain, x-rays or a Computerised Tomography Scan (CT Scan) may be required. At times, in order to provide more accurate information about the soft tissues in your back, your doctor may suggest a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.
Osteopathy and chiropractic are similar disciplines. Both osteopathy and chiropractors can diagnose back pain by visual inspection and feeling by hands (palpation). Chiropractic treatment tends to involve a more “direct” approach, with an emphasis on adjustments of the spinal joints. Chiropractors also rely on x-rays, blood test, urine tests and MRI scan for diagnosis of back pain. The osteopathic approach involves mobilisation (slow, rhythmic stretching), pressure or “indirect” techniques and manipulations on the muscles and joints.
Physiotherapists are trained to diagnose problems in the joints and soft tissue of the body. Physiotherapy for back pain provides a wide range of treatments to relieve pain, promote relaxation and restore movement. They include manipulation, mobilisation and massage. Exercise may also be used to increase general fitness or to strengthen muscles that support the spine.