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Spinal Stenosis - Diagnosis

Most doctors use a combination of tools, including:


The doctor will begin by asking the patient to describe any symptoms he or she is having and how the symptoms have changed over time. These symptoms include:
  • leg or buttock pain while walking
  • stooping forward to relieve symptoms
  • feeling relief when using a shopping cart or bicycle
  • muscle weakness or numbness while walking
  • low back pain

Physical Examination

The doctor will then examine the patient by checking for any limitations of movement in the spine, problems with balance and signs of pain. The doctor will also look for any loss of arm or leg reflexes, muscle weakness, loss of touch, or abnormal reflexes which may suggest spinal cord involvement.


After examining the patient, the doctor can use a variety of tests to look at the inside of the body. Examples of these tests include:
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – this is the least invasive but can often take about 45mins of lying still in a tunnel
  • CT Scan (Computerized axial tomography) – to further evaluate the bones.
  • X-rays – these tests can show the structure of the vertebrae and the outlines of joints and when performed erect then shows the spinal alignment.
The Patient Line website offers information for patients with spinal conditions:
Sciatica, back pain, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, scoliosis and many other spine conditions explained in a clear reliable, and trustworthy way. Not for profit EUROSPINE experts are here to help patients and their families understand what may be worrying them.

EUROSPINE is a society of spine specialists of various disciplines with a large knowledge of spine pathologies. All well-known and accepted treatment modalities for spine pathologies are represented by the members of the society. However, the Society cannot accept any responsibility for the use of the information provided; the user and their health care professionals must retain responsibility for their health care management.
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page last updated on 06.03.2019