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What you should know before you go to the doctor.

I have low back pain: what should my doctor do first?
Most of the time back pain will go away on its own within a few weeks. However, if you decide to go to a doctor, your doctor should look at your medical history, symptoms, and give you a physical exam. Imaging tests (x-rays) are usually not needed.

Based on your symptoms and the physical exam, the doctor may suspect a more serious problem. At this time an x-ray should be the first test ordered. The most serious causes of back pain are best seen on plain x-rays. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test should not be the first test for serious causes of back pain. After an x-ray is provided, if your doctor thinks itís necessary, then an MRI may be the next imaging test ordered.

For more information, visit the web site:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00311