Diagnosing spinal stenosis should always involve a full evaluation conducted by your doctor. While many people may read about the symptoms of spinal stenosis and assume they have the condition, self-diagnosis can be tricky because spinal stenosis symptoms like numbness, weakness, and tingling can resemble symptoms of other conditions.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal or the small spaces nerve roots use to exit the spine. This constriction can create painful compression on your spinal cord or the nerve roots. The most common cause is osteoarthritis — a condition that wears down the cartilage cushioning the joints in the spine. Read on for more information about the spinal stenosis diagnosis process and the treatments available to ease your symptoms and help you get back to your daily routine.
Diagnosing Spinal Stenosis
If you are experiencing pain in your neck or back, reach out to your doctor immediately. Properly diagnosing spinal stenosis is the first step to getting effective treatment. When seeing your primary care doctor regarding a potential spinal stenosis diagnosis, you will generally start with a thorough medical history and physical exam performed by your doctor. Your doctor will request that you describe your symptoms and how your life is affected to get closer to the potential cause.
Imaging tests are the primary way of reaching an exact diagnosis for this condition. These can determine the location and extent of your nerve compression. Examples of imaging tests include:
- X-ray: Basic imaging that can detect some conditions on a broad level
- MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging test that can provide a more detailed look at your spine condition
- CT scan: Computer-assisted X-ray that can provide a cross-sectional view of the spine
- Myelogram: Imaging that uses dye to provide a high-contrast image, making conditions like spinal stenosis easier to detect
Get Your Life Back
Initial treatment options prescribed by a doctor may include over-the-counter medication to reduce pain and inflammation and strengthening and stretching exercises. Surgery is usually not required for you to experience an easing of symptoms and a return to normal activity.
If several weeks and months of treatment does not bring the expected results of reduced pain and increased mobility, or if you have been recommended for surgery but have doubts about the risks involved with traditional open back surgery, other options are available for lasting pain relief. At BEST Health System, we believe in helping our patients find the least invasive approach to treatment. Contact our team today to learn more about treatment with BEST Health System.