Ah yes, the age old question for back pain sufferers. And whilst much bad back pain has no specific cause, as many back pain blog readers will frustratingly know only too well, there are many instances when what causes back pain can be identified. An important step towards effective treatment.
To that end, as a recent article on the care2.com website highlights, some doctors have recently returned to a decades old test which has proved it’s effectiveness as a diagnostic tool for back problems with new research.
The test is an electromyogram (EMG) which in simple terms measures the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. The beauty of the EMG, as oposed to an MRI scan which just takes a picture of say, the spine, is that it registers electrical activity in the muscles surrounding the spine.
According to Andrew Haig, a physician and professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Health System, “Taking a photo of a car with a dent in it isn’t going to tell you whether the radio works, and taking a photo of an old spine isn’t going to tell you if it hurts.”
The test can potentially rule out disc problems, and has almost zero false positives. Thus avoiding back surgery when it is unnecessary. The fact that the EMG test is significantly cheaper than an MRI also makes it a very useful option.
The fact that EMG results are more difficult to interpret than a standard MRI does put some practitioners off using it. But Professor Haig is convinced that there is no good reason why doctors should avoid the test as a cheap and effective way of pinpointing the source of a serious back pain.
To read the full article go here.