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How Spinal Stenosis Is Diagnosed

How Spinal Stenosis Is Diagnosed

Your spine is arguably one of the most important parts of your body; it not only gives you shape, but also protects your spinal cord. Because your spine is so important, when something goes wrong, it often causes a world of problems. Spinal stenosis is just one of the conditions that can affect your spine, and cause a lot of discomfort and pain.

Our expert team at Kellogg Brain and Spine is here to help you figure out what’s causing your pain. Our board-certified neurosurgeon, Dr. Jordi Kellogg, provides you with an accurate diagnosis. If you have spinal stenosis, it’s good to know the details of the condition so you know just what you’re up against.

The signs of spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition that leads to the narrowing of your spinal canal, which can cause compression of your spinal nerves. This can lead to severe pain and even sciatica, which is also due to nerve compression.

In the first stages of this condition, you may not have any symptoms at all. That’s because spinal stenosis is a progressive disease, which usually starts slow. However, as the disease progresses, you may notice more noticeable symptoms, which may include:

In severe cases of spinal stenosis, you may experience worsening symptoms, such as losing control of your bowel or bladder. This is due to the severe compression of the nerves in your lower spine.

Spinal stenosis can affect your neck or lower back, and the symptoms are similar. However, symptoms alone aren’t enough to diagnose this condition. Dr. Kellogg uses other methods as well to determine if you’re suffering from spinal stenosis.

Getting a diagnosis

If you’re having neck or back pain with symptoms of nerve involvement, Dr. Kellogg narrows down the causes through a number of different methods. 

He first discusses your symptoms and talks to you about when they started and how often they occur. He also performs a detailed physical exam to determine what makes your pain better or worse. 

However, while a physical exam and the history of your symptoms says a lot about your condition, Dr. Kellogg gets definitive proof through a number of different imaging studies. 

Some of the tests that he may order include:

An MRI is the best way for Dr. Kellogg to see all the structures in your spine, including your nerves and intervertebral discs. However, the other tests, such as electromyography, give him other details, such as the status of your spinal nerves.

The types of tests that Dr. Kellogg orders for you are dependent not only on your symptoms, but your overall health as well.

What are your treatment options?

If your imaging tests show spinal stenosis, Dr. Kellogg discusses your treatment options right away. The type of treatment he recommends is based on the severity of your condition and how it’s affecting your daily life.

Often, Dr. Kellogg starts you out with conservative measures, such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. However, if these aren’t helping, he may suggest other treatments like:

Many times, these treatments are enough to give you the relief you need. But if your pain persists despite conservative measures, Dr. Kellogg suggests surgery to correct the problem. However, because spinal surgery is an invasive procedure, it’s usually the last resort in controlling your pain.

To discuss your treatment options or find out if spinal stenosis is causing your pain, call one of our offices in Portland or Wilsonville, Oregon, to schedule a consultation. You can also click the request an appointment button while you’re here on our website. 

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