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The Appropriate Use of Imaging for Low Back Pain

July 29, 2019

Studies have shown that early imaging for low back pain (before six weeks from onset) does not result in improved outcomes. Patients who have early imaging have substantially higher health care use than those who do not undergo early imaging. Once serious underlying conditions, neurological deficits and non-spinal causes of back pain are ruled out, conservative treatment options should be explored.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, adult patients (age 18 and over) should not have imaging ordered if they only have symptoms of:

  • Low back pain
  • Radiculopathy with the absence of red flags (for example, severe or progressive neurological deficits or suspected underlying conditions such as cancer or osteomyelitis) at the initial visit

If you have a patient dealing with back pain, our trained professionals can help. The BlueShield of Northeastern New York Spine Program was developed to guide patients through the complicated treatment options available for low back pain. You may enroll your patient in our Spine Program online, or by calling 1-877-878-8785, option 2.

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