Laboratory blood tests are rarely needed for evaluation of individuals with spinal pain. Blood tests are reserved for those individuals that have symptoms suggestive of a systemic illness. Only a few blood tests are useful for identifying abnormalities associated with systemic spinal illness. These include a complete blood count (CBC), complete metabolic count (CMC), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C reactive protein (CRP).
CBC includes determination of red and white blood cells and platelets. These counts can be abnormal in the setting of inflammatory diseases (ankylosing spondylitis) and cancer (multiple myeloma). CMC tests the status of calcium metabolism, liver function, and kidney function. These counts can be abnormal with hormonal diseases causing osteoporosis. CBC and CMC are more often obtained to monitor for toxicity of drugs.