Obtaining a Pinched Nerve Diagnosis
While the idea of getting a pinched nerve diagnosis can be scary, just remember that the sooner you know what exactly is causing your pain, the sooner you can relieve your symptoms with an appropriate treatment plan. If you have been experiencing pain, weakness, tingling, numbness, or a pins-and-needles sensation in your back, neck, and/or extremities and think a pinched spinal nerve may be to blame, make an appointment with your primary care physician.
The Diagnostic Process
Every doctor will have his or her own approach to confirming a pinched nerve diagnosis, but you will likely undergo some combination of the following:
- A physical exam - Your doctor will probably palpate your spine to check for areas of swelling, tenderness, or other abnormalities. He or she may also conduct tests to gauge your reflexes, flexibility, and range of motion.
- A review of your symptoms - Your doctor will want to know very specific information about your symptoms, including their location, duration, frequency, and severity. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to remember all of this during your consultation, write out a list of symptoms beforehand and bring it to your appointment.
- Analysis of family’s medical history - Some patients are genetically predisposed to developing conditions that cause pinched nerves. For this reason, your doctor may ask if your parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents ever suffered from the condition. If you aren’t sure, try to find out before going to your consultation.
- Medical imaging - If the above diagnostic techniques do not provide your doctor with enough information to confirm a pinched nerve diagnosis, he or she may order an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to get a detailed view of the interior of the spine. This will allow the doctor to see any bone or tissue abnormalities that may be pressing on a spinal nerve or nerve root. e
The Next Step - A Treatment Plan
Once a pinched nerve diagnosis has been confirmed, you will need to embark on a treatment plan to try and minimize your symptoms and maintain mobility. Most patients will be able to achieve these goals through non-surgical means, but a small percentage of people will need to consider the option of surgery. Minimally invasive procedures are available, but not every patient will be a candidate. For more information about advanced endoscopic treatments for pinched nerves, and a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, Contact Laser Spine Institute.