What is the role of lab testing in the workup for mechanical back pain?

Updated: Aug 27, 2020
  • Author: Debra G Perina, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

Consider performing a urinalysis if the problem is not clearly musculoskeletal or an exacerbation of chronic back pain.

Perform a complete blood count (CBC) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) if the patient is febrile or if an epidural or spinal abscess, or osteomyelitis is suspected. While ESR has moderate specificity, the sensitivity is relatively high in cases of abscess, and it can be used as a screening test.

Perform coagulation studies if patient is on an anticoagulant.

Other laboratory studies are rarely needed unless a disorder other than back pain is strongly suspected.


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