How do healthcare providers diagnose cervical spondylosis?

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

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

  • Neck flexibility.
  • Muscle strength and reflexes in your hands, arms or legs.
  • Reflexes.
  • Gait (how you walk).
  • Neck and shoulder, looking for trigger points (a small bump or knot in the muscle of your neck or shoulder that may be the source of your pain and tenderness).

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

  • X-rays show the bones in your neck, their alignment, loss of bone and bone spurs (if present). Not all bone changes cause symptoms. Healthcare providers may use X-rays as a starting point. X-rays or other tests can also help rule out other causes of your discomfort, such as a spine tumor.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans provide more detail than X-rays. This scan can help better view the spinal canal and bone spurs.
  • MRI images show the details of soft tissues such as cartilage, nerve roots, muscles, spinal cord and disks. This test can show spinal compression or herniated disk more clearly than X-rays.electromyelography An MRI can help identify the source and location of pain.
  • Other tests may include a myelogram (type of CT scan) or electromyogram (nerve function test). These tests provide more details on how cervical spondylosis may be affecting your nerves.

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