How do doctors diagnose cervical spondylosis?

Your doctor will perform a physical exam to find the cause of your neck pain or other symptoms.

Your symptoms and their severity give doctors clues to how much pressure your cervical spine might be under. During a physical exam, a doctor may check your:

  • Neck flexibility
  • Muscle strength and reflexes in your hands, arms, or legs
  • Walking function

Sometimes, doctors can diagnose cervical spondylosis with just a physical exam. Other times, they may recommend tests to learn more about what may be causing your symptoms. These tests may include the following:

  • X-rays show the bones in your spine. Not all bone abnormalities cause symptoms. Doctors may use X-rays as a starting point. X-rays or other tests can also help doctors rule out other causes of your discomfort, such as a spine tumor.
  • MRI images show the details of soft tissues such as cartilage and nerve roots. This test can show spinal compression more clearly than X-rays. An MRI can help doctors identify the source and location of pain.
  • Other tests may include a myelogram (type of CT scan) or electromyography (nerve function test). These tests give doctors more details on how cervical spondylosis may be affecting your nerves

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