Living with Chronic Pain
Diagnostic Tests for Chronic Pain
A standard physical exam consists of checking overall physical health. Range of motion is tested and posture is examined.
A neurological exam evaluates the nerves; the function of reflexes, strength of muscles and physical sensitivity to touch are assessed. During a neurological exam, a doctor looks for damage to nerves at the origin of pain and also checks for spreading nerve damage.
Oftentimes, the emotional health of people with chronic pain is affected. A mental health exam will determine if an individual is dealing with depression and/or anxiety.
An X-ray provides a clear picture of the bones.
A computerized axial tomography (CT) scan shows a more detailed image of the bones than an X-ray. It also shows tissue and nerves. This test allows the doctor to determine if pain is the result of a broken bone, a pinched nerve, or damaged tissue.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), also shows a detailed image of the bones, tissue, and nerves. However, the body is not exposed to small amounts of radiation as in a CT scan or X-ray.
An electromyography (EMG) test determines if the muscles respond properly when the nerves are stimulated.
A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test is typically partnered with an EMG test. It helps detect nerve damage.
Blood tests detect infection, autoimmune disorders, and liver and kidney conditions that may be the cause of chronic pain.
A bone scintigraphy scan is a nuclear medicine test that helps detect conditions of the spine, such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, fractures and infections.
A myelogram is a test that uses a special dye that is injected into the fluid around the spinal cord. An X-ray or CT scan is then done to obtain a detailed image of the bones in the spine.
A nerve block is an injection to decrease pain in a nerve. It is sometimes used to identify the suspected source of pain. s used to identify the suspected source of pain.