How a spinal stenosis diagnosis is made

A spinal stenosis diagnosis typically requires the diagnosis of another spinal condition, such as degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis or spondylolisthesis, among others. This stems from the fact that the leading cause of the narrowing of the spinal canal is the misalignment, inflammation or deterioration of an anatomical component of the spine. Once a physician has determined that a patient does, in fact, have a degenerative spinal condition and is able to make a spinal stenosis diagnosis, he or she will typically prescribe a regimen of conservative treatments.

The diagnostic process

Most physicians will begin the process of making a spinal stenosis diagnosis by asking a series of questions, such as:

  • What symptoms have you been experiencing and for how long?
  • What methods have you utilized to relieve your pain? Have they provided any relief?
  • Do you have any medical conditions?
  • Does anyone in your family have a history of spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease or any other spinal condition?

This question-and-answer session is then typically followed by a physical examination to test the patient’s reflexes, check for muscle weakness and palpate the spine. Diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI, might also be ordered so the physician can view the inner workings of the spine.

Treating the condition

The majority of patients who receive a spinal stenosis diagnosis will be able to alleviate their symptoms through the use of conservative, non-surgical techniques. If a patient is unable to find relief after following a conservative treatment regimen for several weeks or months, his or her physician may recommend surgery. Before consenting to traditional open spine surgery, patients might wish to learn about the minimally invasive procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, and they don’t require a lengthy recovery period.^ Contact us to learn more and to schedule your initial consultation.

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