When obtaining an accurate diagnosis for radiculopathy, doctors employ many of the same tools and tests used to diagnose many nerve conditions. There are three steps doctors will perform when diagnosing Radiculopathy:
- Go over your complete medical history.
- Perform a thorough physical examination.
- Perform diagnostic tests.
When obtaining your medical history, your physician will be able to determine if you are predisposed to any hereditary conditions. You will also be asked:
- When did you first notice your pain and symptoms?
- What were you doing when it happened?
- Do any activities make the pain worse?
- Is there anything you do to feel better?
During the physical examination your physician will examine any sore or painful areas, check your reflexes and range of motion, as well as perform a variety of nerve sensory tests.
Diagnostic Tests for Radiculopathy
Although X-ray or CT scan images do not allow for much detail when visualizing soft tissue, they may be ordered to rule out other conditions that may also be responsible for your symptoms. An MRI image with a special dye injection may be taken for detailed images of soft tissue, the spinal cord, or exiting nerves. An EMG (electromyography) test may be performed to test for abnormalities in nerve signals. Nerve compression from radiculopathy will show good results, while nerve irritation due to radiculitis often provides only small readings. This helps to rule out one or the other.