Spinal stenosis — MRI test to diagnose spinal stenosis
An MRI is an essential step in diagnosing spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a complex spine condition for two reasons: it shares the same symptoms as many other spine conditions and it can be caused by another spine condition. Unlike spine conditions like scoliosis or other easily diagnosed conditions, a physician would need an in-depth anatomical view of your spine to be able to diagnose spinal stenosis and determine the cause of your condition.
If you or your physician suspects that you have spinal stenosis, schedule an MRI test and follow up with an MRI review with your physician or a Patient Empowerment Consultant. Having an accurate diagnosis of spinal stenosis will help you and your physician create a treatment plan to specifically address your needs.
What to expect during your MRI test for spinal stenosis
An MRI test for spinal stenosis is a non-invasive, painless test that allows physicians to see the anatomical structure of your spine.
During the test, you will lie on your back on a table, directly beneath and enclosed by a large tube. Imagine if you were lying in the road in a tunnel, with openings for the tunnel just beyond your head and your feet. This is similar to the structure of the MRI bed and overhead machine.
You will be asked to remain as still as possible while powerful magnets in the tube send signals toward your body. These signals pass through the body, and, in turn, are picked up by radio waves that are sent to a scanner and then to a computer for later review and analysis by physicians. This process will be loud, so you are encouraged to bring ear plugs.
Tell the MRI technician if you have any internal medical devices, such as pacemakers, plates, or screws. These can interfere with the screening and your safety. If you are concerned about claustrophobia during the MRI test, request to test at a facility with an “open” MRI designed for claustrophobic and larger patients.
MRI test for spinal stenosis diagnosis
Because spinal stenosis can be a result of several other spine conditions or the side effects of natural aging, it is imperative to review your MRI test with your physician before you begin a treatment plan for your pain.
A review of your MRI test may detect:
- Spinal stenosis — the narrowing of the spinal canal
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Pinched, inflamed or compressed nerves in the spinal cord
If an MRI picks up any of the conditions that indicate spinal stenosis, your physician will use this information in conjunction with a physical examination, mobility tests and possibly X-rays or CT scans to determine the next course of action. Spinal stenosis treatments may include rest, exercise, pain medication, corticosteroid injections or perhaps even surgery.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive surgery to treat spinal stenosis. If you would like to learn more about our treatment options, contact us. Our team can provide you with a no-cost review* of your MRI to determine your candidacy for our procedures.