Lab Tests

A Patient's Guide to Laboratory Tests

What it is: Many laboratory tests are used to determine where your back or neck pain may be coming from. Some of these include: blood, urine, and radiology tests.

What the test shows: Many times back and neck pain can be coming from problems that are not the result of spine conditions. However, the problem is causing pain to show up in the back or neck. For example, lower back pain can sometimes be the result of kidney problems or problems in the abdomen, such as an aortic aneurysm or ulcers of the stomach. Back and neck pain can also be caused by diseases which spread to affect the spine, such as cancer of the spine or infection in the spine. Laboratory tests are useful in looking for these other types of problems that can cause back and neck pain.

What the test does not show: There are not any useful blood tests that can tell whether you have wear and tear degeneration of the spine or a problem such as a ruptured disc. Doctors still rely on the history, the physical examination and the radiology scans to look for these problems.

How the test is done: Blood tests and urine tests are done by taking a sample of blood or urine and analyzing them in the laboratory.

What risks the test has: Most laboratory tests, such as blood tests, have minimal risks associated with them.

What the test costs: The tests mentioned here vary in cost.

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