Neck Pain Diagnosis
Several diagnostic methods may be used in determining the cause of neck pain. A thorough history and physical examination can usually determine a diagnosis in most cases but a doctor may also request x-rays, blood tests, and electrocardiograms depending on the neck pain symptoms, location of pain, and cause of any injury.
X-Rays for Diagnosing Neck Pain
If there is tenderness at the bony areas of the spine or shoulder, or if the patient has a history of fractures or trauma then an x-ray may be required to rule out specific bone problems. X-rays can also detect specific changes in lung and heart condition.
Electrocardiogram for Neck Pain Diagnosis
Further methods may be employed in the diagnosis of neck pain. If the pain is experienced alongside any chest pain, shortness of breath, or if there is a risk of heart problems then it may be advisable to have an electrocardiogram (ECG) conducted. Blood tests may also be performed if these symptoms are present as they could identify problems with cholesterol or other underlying issues.
MRI or CTScan for Neck Pain Diagnosis
If an x-ray is inconclusive or suggests a fracture, or if more detail is required, then a CT (computerised tomography) scan may be performed. These kinds of scans can show up other anomalies such as those involving blood vessels, arteries, and veins. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is unlikely to be used as a primary diagnostic tool but could be employed if a patient is unresponsive to treatment and if pain is ongoing.
For a physician assessing neck pain it is important to determine the cause of pain prior to advising any particular treatment. If the pain is due to a structural abnormality then treatment will differ greatly from that given in the case of a viral infection which is causing inflammation in a particular area, for example. If the pain is short lived and follows an incident where trauma was inflicted on the neck area then there may be no need to acquire a diagnosis as such, whereas, if the pain persists then the trauma may have resulted in more significant damage and necessitate treatment other than rest.