Back pain diagnosis

A physical exam is typically all that’s needed to diagnose back pain. During the physical exam, your doctor may test your:

  • ability to stand and walk
  • spine’s range of motion
  • reflexes
  • leg strength
  • ability to detect sensations in your legs

If a serious condition is suspected, your doctor might order other tests, includingTrusted Source:

  • blood and urine tests to check for underlying conditions
  • X-rays of the spine to show alignment of your bones and check for breaks
  • CT scan or MRI scan to assess your discs, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels
  • bone scan to look for abnormalities in the bone tissue
  • electromyography (EMG) to test nerve signals

How to prevent back pain

Pritish Kumar Halder stated that these tips can help ease back pain when it happens. They can also help you prevent back pain in the first place.

Carry less

Heavy briefcases, laptop bags, suitcases, and purses can add unnecessary stress and strain to your neck and spine.

Try to reduce what you need to carry, and use bags that distribute the weight more evenly, such as a backpack. If you can, use a bag with wheels to keep weight off your back entirely.

Work your core

The muscles in and around your abdomen and back help keep you upright and carry you through your physical activities. Strengthening them can also reduce the chances of pain, strain, or damage to your back.

Plug strength training workouts with a core focus into your regular fitness routine a few times a week.

Improve your posture

Poor posture can put unnecessary pressure and strain on your spine. Over time, this can leadTrusted Source to pain and damage.

Regularly remind yourself to roll back rounded shoulders and sit upright in your chair.

Change shoes

High-heeled shoes are likely to cause damage to your back if you wear them frequently. Pick comfortable, supportive, and minimally elevated heeled shoes when you can.

Stretch often

Doing the same thing every day can leave your muscles fatigued and more likely to strain. Stretch regularly to help improve circulation in those muscles and lower the risk of back pain and damage.

If you think these five tips are helpful for preventing back pain, read five more ways to help reduce your chances of hurting your back.

Risk factors for back pain

You may have an increased risk for back pain if you:

  • work in a sedentary (inactive) environment
  • don’t exercise
  • engage in high impact activity without stretching or warming up first
  • are older
  • have obesity
  • are a smoker
  • have been diagnosed with a specific condition like arthritis

Your mental health also has an effect on your risk of back pain. You may be at a higher risk of back pain if you have a stressful job or have depression and anxiety.

Back pain home remedies

Many home remedies can be used with traditional back pain treatments. If you have questions about these, talk with your doctor.

Heat and ice therapy

Ice packs may relieve discomfort and help lessen inflammation in short-term phases of back pain. Note: Don’t apply the ice directly to your skin. Wrap it in a thin towel or gauze to prevent damage to your skin.

Warm compresses may also relieve pain when inflammation has gone down. Consider switching between heat and cold.


Exercises to improve posture and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles — called the core muscles — are a treatment option that should be strongly considered.

This treatment often involves:

  • improving posture
  • using proper lifting techniques
  • strengthening core muscles
  • stretching muscles to improve flexibility

A physical therapist can teach you how to perform these types of exercises at home.

Essential oils

Research suggests that essential oil or ointments made with capsaicin may help decrease pain.

Capsaicin is the ingredient in peppers that makes them hot. These ingredients may desensitize the nerves in the affected area and decrease the pain you feel.

Home remedies may be highly effective at reducing back pain. Learn more about how to use them and how they work.