Understanding Pain

Common Exams and Tests

In order to determine your condition, pinpoint causes of pain, check severity of bone deformity, degeneration or trauma, your doctor may perform tests and examinations. Your doctor or staff will explain the tests and answer any questions you have.


X-rays are a means to view your bones and structure. They use special photographic film and radiation to reveal your skeletal structure and defects. Your doctor may have you perform certain poses in order to determine skeletal instability.


CAT (computed axial tomography) scans, also known as CT scans, uses a computer to calculate a 3d image of your body from a series of x-rays. By using these x-rays and computers, the scan can show images of bone and implanted devices.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a way to scan your body and show things not found on an x-ray. The MRI machine looks for water content and displays it as light or dark, depending on quantity of water found in the human body. This is very useful for detecting spinal disc abnormalities.


This test involves a dye injected into the covering fo the spinal cord and nerves. An x-ray then is taken to show the flow of the dye and determine any abnormalities such as leaks, compression, or rupture.


This is another dye injection procedure that is injected, with the aid of a fluoroscope, into a spinal disc. An x-ray is then used to reveal any leaks or abnormalities.

Bone Scan

This dye injection procedure is localized to areas of concern and focuses on bones. A scanner shows the dye in areas of high "bone turnover". This will show defects in bone such as fractures, tumors, or other bone issues.


DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scans determine bone mineral density. This helps deterimine bone loss or potential for bone loss. Two x-ray sources are used and a computer calculates the amount of x-ray radiation absorbed by the bones, which helps calculate severity of bone loss.