Workers compensation spinal stenosis diagnosis begins with a complete history and physical examination. The doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and how your problem is affecting your daily activities. This will include questions about pain or if there are feelings of numbness or weakness in the legs. This is when the patient should clearly explain to the doctor or intake person how any job duties affect the back pain or limit range of motion. Also, any specific accident or particular incident, which incited or aggravated back pain should also be told to the doctor’s office. It is important that the injured worker tell the doctor how the worker believes the back pain is work-related. Consistent medical histories to each doctor or therapist are important to the credibility of the case.
The doctor does a physical examination to see which back movements cause pain or other symptoms. Skin sensation, muscle strength, and reflexes are also tested. A wide-based gait (legs far apart) is often observed. Special clinical tests can be done such as the Romberg test, hip extension test, and tests of neuromuscular function.
X-rays can show if the problems are from changes in the bones of the spine. The images can show if degeneration has caused the space between the vertebrae to collapse. X-rays may also show any bone spurs sticking into the spinal canal.
The best way to see the effects and extent of lumbar spinal stenosis is with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The MRI machine uses magnetic waves rather than X-rays to show the soft tissues of the body. This test gives a clear picture of the spinal canal and whether the nerves inside are being squeezed. This machine creates pictures that look like slices of the area your doctor is interested in.
Computed tomography (a CT scan) may be ordered for those patients who can’t have an MRI for some reason, when the results of the MRI are unclear, or symptoms don’t match the MRI findings. The CT scan is a detailed X-ray that lets your doctor see slices of bone tissue. The image can show any bone spurs that may be sticking into the spinal column and taking up space around the spinal nerves.
When there is a concern about neurologic problems, doctors may recommend electrodiagnostic tests of the nerves that go to the legs and feet. An electromyogram (EMG) checks whether the motor pathway of a nerve is working correctly. Motor impulses travel down the nerve and work to energize muscles.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin provide legal representation to employees with workers compensation spinal stenosis in workers comp claims.