WCM-Q Grand Rounds discusses lower back pain diagnosis
An expert in lower back pain discussed the condition’s many possible causes at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar’s (WCM-Q) Grand Rounds.
Dr. Sumeja Zahirovic, Assistant Professor of Medicine at WCM-Q, explained that lower back pain is a symptom rather than a disease in itself and can be caused by one or a combination of many factors, divided broadly into mechanical, systemic and neurological issues. Mechanical factors can include pulled or strained muscles or ligaments, herniated or degenerated lumbar discs, or dysfunctional joints among many others, she said. Systemic issues such as immune disorders like axial spondyloarthropathies (an arthritic condition characterized by inflammation and eventual fusing of the joints), can also cause chronic lower back pain, as can conditions like osteoporosis, in which the fragile bone of the vertebral bodies may fracture, causing a loss of height as well as increasing the risk of future spinal and hip fractures.
Dr. Zahirovic, who is a graduate of WCM-Q, gave detailed technical explanations of the various diagnostic tools available to physicians investigating lower back pain, which range from physical examinations and discussions with the patient about the nature of their pain to X-rays, MRI scans, and diagnostic spinal injections, among others. A more refined, mechanistic approach to diagnosing the cause of low back pain may yield a more precise therapy in the future.
Dr. Zahirovic said: “Because of the many possible causes that exist, diagnosis of lower back pain must take a multifaceted approach that considers a combination of symptoms and signs. Physicians should carry out frequent follow-ups with patients who have lower back pain where there is no one clear cause and over time they may reach a diagnosis through continued close observation.”
The lecture, titled ‘Diagnosis of Low Back Pain’, was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).