How a physician makes a compressed nerve diagnosis

You may suspect spinal nerve compression is the source of symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness, cramping and muscle weakness but it’s important to see a physician for an accurate diagnosis. While a description of your symptoms might be enough to reach a preliminary conclusion that nerve compression might be a contributing factor, it usually requires much more information to determine the exact location of the problem, the underlying cause and how it should be treated.

It starts with your decision to go to the physician’s office, which usually doesn’t occur until neck or back pain or other symptoms have become serious enough to affect everyday activities and your quality of life. Learning more about how a physician diagnoses nerve compression can make you more engaged and confident as you work with him or her to find the relief you deserve.

Questions to diagnose nerve compression

In addition to lab testing and diagnostic imagery, some of the most important tools used by a physician to make a compressed nerve diagnosis are relatively simple. Most appointments to diagnose neck or back pain begin with questions about symptoms and your medical history. These questions might include:

  • Have you or has anyone in your family experienced neck or back pain before?
  • If so, what was the nature and cause of it?
  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Do they occur more frequently or are they more extreme during certain times of day or during certain physical activity?
  • What types of treatments have you already attempted?

A physician will use the answers to these and other questions to create a larger picture of your condition and overall health. He or she will also conduct a physical examination that could include palpation of the spine and range-of-motion tests. Medical imaging, including an X-ray, MRI or CT scan might be ordered to confirm a diagnosis or pinpoint the location of the compressed nerve.

After the compressed nerve diagnosis is made

Once the diagnosis has been reached, a treatment plan will be developed. This plan usually begins with a course of conservative methods such as prescription narcotic drugs, exercise, stretching and other nonsurgical treatments. Surgery might become an option if symptoms persist after several weeks or months.

If you have received a compressed nerve diagnosis and have been unable to manage your symptoms conservatively, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients since 2005 and are often the clinically appropriate first surgical choice compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.

Reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost review of your MRI report or CT scan* to determine if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery.