How Do You Test for Spinal Stenosis?

Seeking treatment for spinal stenosis can relieve pain and get you back to your active lifestyle. St Louis Pain Consultants is a top pain management clinic that will evaluate your condition to identify the source of pain and offer effective treatment. Here’s what you can expect when testing for spinal stenosis: 

Symptom Evaluation 

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the openings in the spine begin to narrow.  This causes compression in the spinal nerves and spinal cord. The disease manifests through various symptoms, depending on the location and severity of the narrowing. Here are some symptoms specialists look for when diagnosing spinal stenosis:

  • Pain or numbness in the legs when standing: This can be a sign of neurogenic claudication, which results from compressed nerves in the lower back.
  • Gait problems: This can be a sign of stenosis in the lumbar or cervical spine.
  • Radiating arm pain: This may result from compressions in the cervical spine. 
  • The inability to lift your feet upwards: This can be a sign of stenosis in the lumbar vertebrae. 
  • Severe pain in the lower back: This can signify lumbar stenosis. 
  • Problems with fine motor skills: This can be a sign of cervical stenosis.

Our specialists begin with a clinical evaluation aimed at analyzing your symptoms. This helps us determine which condition to test for. We often recommend diagnostic testing to determine if you’re suffering from spinal stenosis.


An x-ray is an imaging test that allows us to view your spine. The location of your symptoms can help us determine the kind of x-ray to order. Problems with your fine motor skills can indicate compression in the cervical spine, so our technicians may conduct a neck x-ray. If you’re having problems with your lower back, our clinicians may order a back x-ray. The x-rays can help us identify bone changes that may make your spinal openings smaller. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

An MRI is a test that uses magnetic signals to produce images of your spine. Our specialists can recommend an MRI if an x-ray fails to pinpoint your source of pain as an MRI shows more structures than an x-ray. It can show muscle, ligament, and nerve structures — this can help our specialists identify damage to your disks and ligaments. 

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan 

A CT scan is a non-invasive imaging test that combines special x-ray equipment and computer technology to produce bone and soft tissue images. Doctors can recommend a CT scan instead of an MRI if you have metal implants in your body. The scan may help our specialists determine the causes of spinal stenosis. It can show bone spurs, herniated disks, and tumors, if any. 

Electromyography (EMG) Nerve conduction Study (NSC)

This diagnostic procedure analyzes a muscle’s electrical activity in response to nerve stimulation. The analysis is conducted when the muscle is at rest and when it’s slightly and fully contracted. This test can help our specialists determine the severity of your nerve compression and identify the affected nerves. 

Visit a Pain Management Clinic 

If you suspect you have spinal stenosis, set an appointment with a pain management clinic. The providers can test for the condition using an x-ray, MRI, CT scan, or EMG. These tests can pinpoint the root cause of your pain and the severity of the disease.

St Louis Pain Consultants specializes in helping people manage chronic pain. We’ll evaluate your symptoms, order tests to understand the source of your pain, and recommend a treatment. Contact us to get started today.

If you are living with chronic pain, seek help from St. Louis Pain Consultants.

We want to help remind you what life without pain feels like.

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