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Doctors Are Not Examining Back Pain Enough, Study Reports

Update Date: Sep 21, 2013 10:59 AM EDT

When people get physical check ups, primary care physicians are supposed to examine all parts of the body. However, even though the physicians should inspect every part of the body, if the patient does not speak up about certain symptoms, some doctors might not address it. Other times, people might seek out specialists for certain symptoms. In a new study, researchers discovered that a lot of doctors are not checking up on patient's lower back pains even if that is the reason why patients came into the office for.

For this study, the researchers headed by Joel Press, MD from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL interviewed 295 patients. The team asked the patients about the types of doctors they sought out for their lower back pain within the past year. The researchers asked the participants whether or not their lower backs were inspected at each physician visit. Some of the questions asked the participants if they were required to put on a gown during the examination and if the physicians used their hands to inspect the problem.

From these surveys, the researchers recorded 696 physician visits. Of these visits, 57 percent of them included inspections. The researchers found that the highest rate of inspections was done by orthopedic surgeons with 72 percent. Chiropractors had an inspection rate of 40 percent and a palpitation rate of 94 percent. 80 percent of the visits to a primary care physician resulted in palpations. The researchers also reported that 43 percent of patients did not get any inspection of their lower back.

"These numbers reflect a need for improvement among providers who treat patients with [lower back pain]," the authors wrote. The researchers believe that doctors need to do more to care for people with lower back pain.

The study was published in Spine.

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