Why Is Back Pain Misdiagnosed So Often?

Marina Virko
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Over and over we hear of shocking cases when patients suffer due to misdiagnosed causes of vague back complaints. Why does it happen? Of course, misdiagnoses do occur from time to time, but usually the reason is not a lack of competence on the part of the physician, but the complexity of the human body.

Therefore with back pain it is crucial to make a proper diagnosis as soon as possible in order to determine the cause in time. It is the only way to make sure that the therapy will be as well-targeted and effective as possible.

A good diagnosis requires a great deal of experience and competence

When you have a back pain, it is advisable to see a doctor who will make the diagnosis which is crucial for your treatment. However, in many cases, it is also recommended to seek a second opinion from an expert or go straight to a specialized spinal center where specific expertise will provide for a more comprehensive examination and a more accurate diagnosis. That will reduce the chance of a wrong diagnosis and eventually eliminate unnecessary surgery.

There could be many reasons for back pain. It could be caused not only by the spine itself, but by other tissues and organs. Therefore, determining the cause is quite difficult and time-consuming. That’s why some physicians who are not specialized in this field can misinterpret the diagnostic results and therefore make an incorrect diagnosis.

A wrong diagnosis leads to an incorrect therapy, so the true cause of the problem remains, or even gets worse.

As was mentioned, specialization offers some advantages, such as a more comprehensive diagnostic procedure. Moreover, patients can usually benefit from state-of-the-art equipment which is available only at specialized centers. At the same time, physicians are especially competent in this particular area because it’s part of their daily routine.

To get an appropriate treatment one will first need to go through a thorough examination. The doctor starts with a detailed case history and other relevant details before he goes over to the examination as such, which usually includes a physical examination and imaging scans.  

A common example of misdiagnosis is a herniated disc which is often removed even though it was not necessary. The matter is that not every intervertebral hernia is a disease causing the patient’s complaints; such hernias are often found by accident.

A herniated disc should be treated as a disease only if it causes specific symptoms such as pain and palsy.


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Меня уже несколько месяцев беспокоят боли в спине. Врач-ортопед не нашел для этого никаких причин, и МРТ показала, что с позвоночником все в порядке. Могут ли боли в спине быть связаны с другими органами?

Please avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication!

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