Cervical Arthritis Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Cervical Arthritis (Spondylosis)

Flexion tests, MRI, and CT scans, and X-rays are frequently used in the diagnosis of cervical arthritis (spondylosis). Strength tests, such as the physician asking the patient to squeeze both of his hands with theirs, can demonstrate nerve/spinal cord compression. A pin-prick test may also be conducted to establish the severity of any problems of sensation. This is where the doctor will ask the patient to discriminate between the location of two separate gentle pin pricks to the skin in the upper limbs. Other neurological tests may be performed including a needle electromyography or nerve conduction test, although this is a more invasive procedure and may not always be necessary.

Spinal manipulation tests are frequently performed to ascertain the degree of physical disability from cervical arthritis. Spurling’s Test involves the physician bending the patient’s head to the involved (painful) side and placing gentle pressure on the top of the head to observe any reproduction of the painful symptoms. The Neck Distraction Test is where the prostrate patient is tested for pain or relief of pain when the physician pulls their head back by holding the back of the head and the chin whilst the patient is lying on their back. If a patient experiences an alteration in pain and symptoms when they place their hand on top of their head whilst seated, then they have a positive result on the Shoulder Abduction Test.

A further test that may be carried out in the doctor’s office is the Upper Limb Tension Test where the physician will move the patient’s arm through a range of motion whilst the patient is lying face up. This test tenses the nerves in the arm and may reproduce symptoms of pain at varying stages during the motion. All of these tests aid the diagnosis of cervical arthritis and allow the physician to ascertain which vertebrae are likely involved, with ramifications for the treatment of cervical arthritis (spondylosis).

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