Diagnosis of Radiculopathy
To diagnose radiculopathy, a physician will review a patient’s medical history, asking about the location and type of the symptoms to help determine if a nerve root is being affected.
A physical exam will follow, focusing on range of motion and flexibility, as well as muscle strength, sensation, and reflexes to determine what nerve root is being compressed.
To verify the diagnosis, several tests may be needed. An X-ray will be performed first, which can help identify the presence of trauma or osteoarthritis, as well as early signs of infection or tumor growth. A CT scan or an MRI may follow. A CT scan can show the amount of space nerve roots are allotted by the foramen, or openings in the vertebrae of the spine. An MRI scan can best reveal the location and extent of nerve compression because it is designed to show the soft tissues around the spine, including discs, ligaments and nerves.