A spondylosis diagnosis can only be ascertained by your doctor. The difficulty in diagnosing spondylosis, or spinal arthritis, lies in the symptoms you may be experiencing, because the pain, stiffness, and inflammation that affect arthritic facet joints in the spine are similar to the symptoms associated with other spinal conditions. To confirm that spondylosis is causing your discomfort, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and that of your family, as well as perform a physical evaluation and order diagnostic imaging tests.
Medical History & Physical Evaluation
When you visit your doctor for a spondylosis diagnosis , he or she will ask you about your medical history to find out if you or any family members have had back or neck problems in the past. Genetics are believed to play a role in the development of degenerative spinal conditions like spinal arthritis. Your doctor will likely also want to know if you’ve had any other health problems or previous surgeries.
The inflammation and stiffness associated with spondylosis can affect the normal, healthy movement your back or neck is usually capable of performing, so testing your range of motion may also be part of your evaluation. Your doctor may also check the reflexes in your hands and feet, as a poor reflex response may point to nerve compression or damage.
In most cases, a spondylosis diagnosis is confirmed with one or more diagnostic imaging tests. X-rays can reveal the presence of bone spurs (osteophytes) and inflamed facet joints. A computed tomography (CT) scan can provide a more detailed, cross-sectional look at the spinal components and is particularly helpful in displaying spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides the most detailed images because it can show the degree to which the vertebrae and facet joints have degenerated, as well as if spinal soft tissues (discs, ligaments, nerve structures, etc.) are affected.
Once your doctor accurately ascertains a spondylosis diagnosis, he or she will likely recommend a course of conservative treatments, such as pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy. If several weeks or months of these treatments fail to provide relief, you may be asked to consider surgery. Before you consent to any procedure, contact the orthopedic specialists at Laser Spine Institute to find out if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive spondylosis procedures.