You’ve probably heard from someone about how their back hurts, causes them constant pain, or simply just aches. Unfortunately, the back is just one of those areas in your body that can be prone to pain, discomfort, and injury. Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone, and also take comfort knowing that there are a wide variety of treatment options available depending on the cause of your pain. Whatever your condition, there are always steps you can take in order to help reduce your pain and improve your quality of life. We’ve gone over many ways to help reduce sciatica pain on our blog for Progressive Health and Rehab, but today we want to help you understand how many of these back conditions are actually diagnosed.

In some cases, diagnosing sciatica pain and other lower back pain can be relatively easy based solely on the described symptoms. There are very key signs of sciatica pain that can be used to provide a diagnosis without further testing. However, other conditions, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and bone spurs to name a few, can only be properly diagnosed with proper tests, imaging, and experience. So what are the different types of imaging that can be used to help diagnose lower back pain in order for you to be able to provide the right treatment?


The first step in any spinal diagnosis is to acquire x-rays. These images allow a medical professional to see all the different bone structures in your spine and the alignment. You can also see the spacing between bone structures, which can help to indicate if the spaces are too small, which you would see with disc compression or osteoarthritis, or too big from excess fluid and swelling.

CT Scans

CT scans are very similar to x-rays, however, instead of one single image, CTs provide you with many slices to help create a more complete 3-D picture of the internal bone structures. CTs are also highly beneficial imaging options for individuals who are unable to get an MRI scan due to devices like a pacemaker, or other metal in the body.


Fluoroscopy is yet another type of x-ray, however, it’s like watching an x-ray live. While not used for diagnostic purposes, fluoroscopy is commonly used to help guide large point injections in the spine and hip. Fluoroscopy can help to increase injection accuracy and reduce possible complications when it comes to spinal injections and care.


Outside of an x-ray, the most common type of diagnostic imaging that is utilized on the spine is an MRI. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. These images are able to correctly distinguish between the various tissue types in the body, giving practitioners a clearer picture of what is going on. MRIs are ideal to diagnosis things like herniated discs and the extent of spinal damage.

When you need help with sciatica, turn to the professionals at Progressive Health and Rehab to get started on your healing journey. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss possible treatment plans.