Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Your doctor will likely start with a physical exam that includes:
- Checking the range of motion in your neck
- Testing your reflexes and muscle strength to find out if there's pressure on your spinal nerves or spinal cord
- Watching you walk to see if spinal compression is affecting your gait
Imaging tests can provide detailed information to guide diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor might recommend:
- Neck X-ray. An X-ray can show abnormalities, such as bone spurs, that indicate cervical spondylosis. Neck X-ray can also rule out rare and more serious causes for neck pain and stiffness, such as tumors, infections or fractures.
- CT scan. CT scan can provide more detailed imaging, particularly of bones.
- MRI. MRI can help pinpoint areas where nerves might be pinched.
- Myelograpy. A tracer dye is injected into the spinal canal to provide more detailed X-ray or CT imaging.
Nerve function tests
Your doctor might recommend tests to determine if nerve signals are traveling properly to your muscles. Nerve function tests include:
Nov. 18, 2015
- Electromyography (EMG). This test measures the electrical activity in your nerves as they transmit messages to your muscles when the muscles are contracting and when they're at rest.
- Nerve conduction study. Electrodes are attached to your skin above the nerve to be studied. A small shock is passed through the nerve to measure the strength and speed of nerve signals.
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