Spinal stenosis is a serious condition that should be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. To receive a correct diagnosis of spinal stenosis, the patient may consult with an experienced orthopedic surgeon for a detailed evaluation.
Southern California Hip Institute (SCHI), led by board certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tigran Garabekyan, provides orthopedic surgery and other treatments to patients in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, and surrounding communities across the horizon.
Arriving at a diagnosis to identify the cause of pain for spinal stenosis or any other condition typically involves three core steps:
Discussion of Symptoms and Review of Medical History
The surgeon will ask the patient for details regarding their symptoms, lifestyle, previous treatments, diet and various similar questions during the question-and-answer session. The objective is to determine the possible reasons behind the patient’s discomfort. The surgeon will also inquire about the medical history of the patient’s family because many causes of back and neck pain can be inherited.
The surgeon will put a gentle pressure on the back and neck, test the range of motion, assess neurological function and determine the location of the pain to comprehend the reason behind the symptoms. While this process can cause mild discomfort, it provides vital information. The surgeon will investigate specific signs such as numbness, muscular weakness, areas of sensory abnormalities, and irregular reflexes.
An accurate diagnosis of spinal stenosis often requires medical imaging. A CT scan or MRI offers an inside perspective of the spinal column and highlights the exact reason behind the narrowing, such as herniated disc material or a bone spur. Some types of image testing are:
Plain x-rays are done initially. They are useful in locating tumors, infections, and determining issues with spinal alignment. They can help identify fractures, narrowed disc space, bone spurs (osteophytes), osteoarthritis (spondylosis).
Today, MRI is the leading technology used to diagnose spinal stenosis. The MRI relies on electromagnetic signals to generate spinal images. In comparison to CT scans or X-rays, MRIs are more efficient as they display a higher number of structures such as muscles, nerves, and ligaments.
In this test, the patient will have a special dye injected into the fluid in the spine around the nerves and spinal cord. Before the dye is injected, the area is numbed. The patient will then undergo a CT scan. The resulting image will offer a comprehensive anatomic visual of the spine, specifically of the nerves and bone surrounding them. The doctor will try to identify compressed locations or areas of pressure on the nerves. CT scans along with myelography are especially useful in the diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis.
This scan will assist the doctor in identifying spinal issues such as fractures, infections, and osteoarthritis. The doctor will inject the patient with a minuscule amount of radioactive substance into a blood vessel. This will travel through the patient’s bloodstream and be absorbed by the bones. Areas with abnormal activity such as inflammation will incorporate more radioactive material.
Dr. Tigran Garabekyan is a board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip preservation. To learn more about Southern California Hip Institute or to schedule a consultation, click here to contact us or call:
Serving patients in Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, West Hollywood, Century City, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and other neighboring cities in the greater Los Angeles, California area.
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