Physical Therapy for Spinal Stenosis Series (Part 3)
How is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
Because the symptoms of spinal stenosis are often similar to those of other age-related conditions, a careful diagnosis is important. Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation, including a review of your medical history, and will use screening tools to determine the likelihood of spinal stenosis. Your physical therapist may:
- Ask you very specific questions about the location and nature of your pain, weakness, and other symptoms
- Ask you to fill out a body diagram to indicate specific areas of pain, numbness, and tingling
- Perform tests of muscle strength and sensation to determine the severity of the pressure on the nerve root
- Examine your posture and observe how you walk and perform other activities
- Measure the range of motion of your spine and your arms and legs
- Use manual therapy to evaluate the mobility of the joints and muscles in your spine
- Test the strength of important muscle groups
If you have muscle weakness, loss of sensation, or severe pain, diagnostic tests such as an X-ray or MRI may be needed. Physical therapists work closely with physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure that an accurate diagnosis is made and the appropriate treatment is provided.
Research shows that in all but the most extreme cases of spinal stenosis (usually involving muscle weakness or high levels of pain), conservative care, such as physical therapy, achieves better results than surgery.
If you think that you may need physical therapy to address your spinal stenosis contact the PT’s at Buffalo Back and Neck Physical Therapy. We are the area’s leading experts in the treatment of back and neck pain.