Low back pain is common for Americans. In many cases, the pain will go away or decrease within four to six weeks no matter what kind of treatment you get. Most causes of back pain cannot be seen on imaging. Strains of muscles and ligaments are “invisible” on imaging tests like X-ray, CT-scans, or MRIs. Because of this, it is generally recommended that patients with a new complaint of low back pain not get these types of tests unless your physician identifies certain “red flag warnings” in your history or during your exam.
This measure shows the percent of patients in each practice who did NOT receive an X-ray or any imaging test within 28 days of seeing their doctor for back pain. A higher number is better.
Why it is important
Patients often receive expensive and unnecessary “imaging” tests (X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans) or even surgery that they do not need.
What you and your doctor should do
Discuss the benefits and risks of different approaches to treating low back pain.