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Cervical Spine Spondylosis Diagnosis

Physical examination
Cervical spondylosis can limit the range of movement in your neck. Your Specialist (Neurosurgeon) may ask you to try and rotate your head from side to side and tilt your head towards your shoulders.

Your Specialist (Neurosurgeon) may also test your reflexes in your hands and feet and check you have full sensation in all your limbs. Problems with your reflexes or a lack of sensation could indicate nerve damage.

Your Specialist (Neurosurgeon) may also study how you walk, as cervical myelopathy can often affect walking and balance.

Investigations

X-ray
An X-ray may show characteristic features of spondylosis, such as the presence of osteophytes (lumps of extra bone). However, the spinal cord and nerve roots cannot be seen on an X-ray, and X-rays cannot show a herniated disc.

MRI scans
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are arranged if your radiating arm pain is severe and not settling,  or if your doctor is concerned about cervical myelopathy. The spinal cord and nerve roots can be seen on an MRI scan, which can also show a herniated disc.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan
A CT scan of your spine uses X-ray technology, but produces a more detailed image than X-ray can. MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves and can produce detailed, cross-sectional images of your spine. These tests may help your doctor determine the extent of damage to your cervical spine.

Myelogram
An X-ray dye is injected inside your spine to make the spinal cord and nerve roots more visible during an X-ray or CT scan. This procedure is known as a myelogram.

It is an invasive test (involves going into the body) and requires admission to hospital as a day case. It is only done if an MRI scan is not possible or, occasionally, after an MRI scan when a specialist requires additional information if surgery is being considered.

Electromyogram (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. The purpose of an EMG is to assess the health of your muscles and the nerves that control them.

Nerve conduction study. For this test, 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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