Q. Will I have an X-ray during my first visit?
X-Rays are typically used to check bone alignment, fractures, infections, or tumors. After finding out more about your symptoms and other factors, your spine specialist will be able to judge whether or not an X-ray is necessary for you.
Q. How will my spine provider start to examine my spine?
We look at your history, talk to you about your symptoms and do a physical examination that includes checking for:
After the physical examination, your spine provider may need additional tests to make an accurate diagnosis of your condition such as MRI scans, CT scans, x-rays, and lab tests.
Q. What is an MRI scan?
A magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) provides images of soft tissue generated by computers. MRI’s help your spine provider identify conditions such as:
Q. What is a CAT scan?
A computer assisted tomography (CAT) scan is a cross between an x-ray and an MRI. It shows bones and soft tissues. The images provided by CAT scans aren’t as clear as MRI’s or x-rays. In order to see the soft tissue easier, a CAT scan is typically combined with a myelogram where a special dye is injected into your spinal canal so that the images are clearer.
Q. What is a discogram?
A discogram is a type of x-ray with a specialized dye injected into your injured disc. With this dye in place, your spine provider is able to have a clearer image of the disc on the x-ray film and fluoroscope screen. Discograms are ideal for patients who may have a disc problem.
Q. What is a spinal tap?
A spinal tap is used in order to take a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding your spinal cord. We may do a spinal tap to check for inflammation, bleeding, white blood cell levels, or protein levels. The information we get from a spinal tap can help spot signs of an infection, tumors, or bleeding around the spinal cord or brain.
Q. What is an EMG test?
EMG stands for electromyogram. An EMG test is used to look at the function nerve roots that leave the spine. An EMG can help the doctor diagnose pinched nerves or other issues between the neck and muscles we test.
Q. What is a bone scan?
A bone scan helps your spine provider pinpoint issues in your spine. We inject a tracer into your bloodstream, then take pictures of your skeleton using a specialized camera that is able to record the radiation of the tracer. The camera will pick up dark spots known as “hot spots” that signal high bone activity, which is where bones are changing quickly due to a fracture, bone tumors, osteoporosis, or overuse.