The diagnostic process — how it helps in determining spinal stenosis causes

Spinal stenosis causes include age-related degenerative spine conditions such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease (DDD) that significantly reduce the stability of the spinal column. No matter what causes spinal stenosis, or narrowing, many patients who have the condition are not aware of it. That’s because narrowing in the spinal column isn’t always painful.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis are usually related to compression of nerves in the spinal column, which can lead to neck or back pain, shooting pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the area of the body reinforced by the affected nerve root or compressed portion of the spinal cord. An important first step in treating these symptoms is to confirm the underlying cause through the diagnostic process.

Helping your doctor with the diagnostic process

In some cases, underlying spinal stenosis causes can only be confirmed by medical imaging — an MRI, a CT scan or an X-ray. Before that however, the diagnostic process begins with a conversation between the patient and the doctor, including questions to get a better idea of your symptoms and how they’re affecting your lifestyle.

These questions might include:

  • Are symptoms experienced more frequently at a particular time of day or night?
  • How long have you experienced symptoms like stiffness, neck pain, back pain and tingling, numbness, muscle weakness and pain in other areas of the body?
  • Does a particular motion, position (such as leaning forward) or activity reduce or give rise to the symptoms?
  • Have you ever suffered a neck or back injury?
  • Does your family have a history of degenerative spine conditions?

Your answers will provide the doctor with clues about whether or not you may have spinal stenosis, and possibly whether there are specific underlying spinal stenosis causes, like herniated discs, spondylolisthesis or osteoarthritis. In many cases, treatment will begin with a course of conservative treatment options, including physical therapy, medication and epidural steroid injections.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis

If spinal stenosis causes you chronic, debilitating pain or other symptoms that interfere with your way of life, it might be time for you to seek more advanced treatment options, including surgery. To learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery for spinal stenosis and other degenerative spine conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute.

We can help you receive a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.

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