When back pain is not benign. A concise guide to differential diagnosis

Postgrad Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;119(2):62-9. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2006.07.1741.


When back pain does not improve over time with standard treatment measures, there is often the fear that a serious but unrecognized underlying condition may be to blame. Proper evaluation to determine the cause of the back pain can ease the patient's mind and guide rehabilitation. In this article, Drs Siemionow and McLain discuss the characteristic signs and symptoms of the most common serious causes of unremitting back pain, as well as the appropriate methods to establish a diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans