How do doctors determine if a back injury due to heavy lifting is causing nerve problems?Sport Medicine Pain Neurology Spine Health
Back injury resulting in nerve problems will present as pain or numbness spreading from back/buttock down along your leg, with or without "pins and needles" sensation or weakness in your leg/foot/buttock, ON TOP OF your main back pain.
The presence of one or more of these signs usually necessitate a referral to a spine specialist by your GP so that an MRI scan can be done to evaluate both your spine as well as your nerves (remember X-rays CANNOT visualise nerves).
Just to add to what Dr Shee Yan has mentioned, if you are having red flag symptoms i.e. issues with bowel control, bladder control or numbness around the back passage (anus) please go and see someone urgently.
In many situations, unless there is profound pain or these red flag symptoms, most clinicians will suggest some sort of conservative management first, with pain killers, physiotherapy and sometimes nerve root injections. The latter can be done under CT, X-ray or ultrasound guidance.
Hope this helps.