I've been experiencing pain in my lower back for quite some time. My doctor doesn't seem to be able to determine the cause, but she also doesn't think I should have X-rays of my lower back. If she's uncertain of the cause, why wouldn't she order the X-rays?

Studies have found that X-rays for low back pain tend not to be helpful. Although low back pain can be frustrating and debilitating, most causes of low back pain aren't serious to the patient's health. Recent studies have shown that as many as 50 percent of X-rays for low back pain don't fit medical criteria for ordering an X-ray.

Often people tend to think they need X-rays when they don't, and sometimes doctors prescribe them so that the patient feels everything possible is being done. That's a problem because X-rays are costly and involve doses of radiation.

Your first step should be to talk more with your doctor. Explain your concerns to her. Make sure you understand all the reasons she thinks you don't need X-rays.