A spondylosis diagnosis should only be made by your primary care doctor or a qualified specialist. Spondylosis, which is a general term for age-related degeneration of the spine, requires a thorough diagnostic process to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. If chronic neck or back pain is taking you away from the people and activities you love, getting the treatment you need for a full, active life depends on a proper diagnosis. Having a better understanding of diagnostic procedures can help you to better participate in your treatment and get back to the life you’ve been missing.
Medical history and physical evaluation
When you visit your doctor for a spondylosis diagnosis, he or she will ask about your medical history to learn if you or your family members have had neck or back problems in the past. Genetics are believed to play a role in the development of degenerative spinal conditions like spondylosis. Your physician will also want to know if you’ve had any other health conditions or previous surgeries.
The inflammation and stiffness associated with spondylosis can affect the normal, healthy movements of your neck or back, so testing your range of motion may also be a part of your evaluation. Your physician may also check the reflexes in your hands and feet as poor reflex responses may point to nerve compression or damage.
In most cases, a spondylosis diagnosis is confirmed with one or more diagnostic imaging tests. Here are three of the most common tests used by physicians:
- X-ray. This form of radiography uses X-rays to take internal pictures of the body. In the spine, this can reveal conditions like bone spurs and inflamed facet joints.
- CT scan. This computerized tomography takes X-ray images and combines them with computer processing. This provides a more detailed, cross-sectional look at the spinal components and is helpful in displaying spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
- MRI. Magnetic resonance imaging provides highly detailed images which can show the degree to which the vertebrae and facet joints have degenerated. It can also show spinal soft tissues — discs, ligaments, nerve structures — that are affected.
Once your doctor makes a spondylosis diagnosis, he or she will likely recommend a course of conservative treatments, including rest, medication and physical therapy. If several weeks or months of these treatments do not relieve symptoms to resume normal activity, you may need to consider surgery.
Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to the risks and difficulties of traditional open spine procedures with our minimally invasive spine surgery. Our board-certified surgeons+ use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine and relieve pressure on spinal nerves. This leads to less risk of complications like scarring, infection and failed back surgery syndrome compared to traditional open spine surgery performed in a hospital setting.
To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.