When a doctor does a spine exam to diagnose back or neck pain, she will touch the suspect areas to help her determine the cause and nature of the pain.
This includes touching the bones of the spine to see if there are fractures, spondylolisthesis, spinal arthritis, infection or other problems. The doctor may also probe the muscles around the spine to feel any spasms or tight, knotted muscles.
Child, Z. Basic Orthopedic Exams Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 2007. Baltimore, MD.
Vacarro, A. Spine: Core Knowledge in Orthopedics. Elsevier Mosby 2005. Philadelphia, PA.