Orthopedic injuries affect the bones, joints, muscles, and/or other supporting structures, including the spine. We don’t typically think of the spine as having joints, but it actually does have joints between each set of two adjacent vertebrae – enabling us to bend and twist our back and torso.
With all of that bending and twisting, back injuries are bound to happen. In the United States alone, more than 15,000 orthopedic spinal injuries occur each year.
It’s crucial to have back injuries diagnosed as soon as possible after the injury occurs, so your orthopedic doctor can administer the proper treatment. Let’s talk about how an orthopedic spinal injury is diagnosed, and where you can go in southeast Michigan for world-class spine care.
How an Orthopedic Doctor Diagnoses a Spine Injury
Here’s how your orthopedic specialist can diagnose your spinal injury:
The first step toward diagnosis is a physical exam, during which your orthopedist will check for signs of stiffness, tenderness, or deformity. The doctor may probe your spine with their fingers to look for any abnormality. They will also test your range of motion by asking you to maneuver your spine to bend and twist in different ways, and to see what movements cause pain.
Orthopedic doctors can use a few different types of tests to diagnose orthopedic spinal injuries. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can help to pinpoint the precise injury or damage to the spine. These tests can show things like fractures, dislocations, and other abnormalities.
An X-ray is a type of radiation that can go through your body and create an image on a film. X-rays show the alignment of your bones and can help identify fractures, dislocations, and masses (such as tumors). An X-ray uses a very low radiation dose, so it is considered safe for occasional scans.
A CT scan uses multiple X-rays and computer technology to create a three-dimensional image, in this case an image of your spine. This test can help diagnose problems such as fractures, tumors, or herniated discs. Because it harnesses multiple X-ray images from different angles, a CT scan gives a more detailed image than a single X-ray.
An MRI of the spine uses a large magnet and radio waves to create a detailed image of your spine. An MRI can reveal things like herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and tumors. It can also show the alignment of your vertebrae and the surrounding soft tissues.
Your orthopedic doctor may also use an electromyography (EMG) test, which measures the electrical activity of your muscles and nerves. It can display any damage to your spinal cord or nerves. This test can detect problems such as herniated discs, pinched nerves, and spinal cord compression.
Diagnosis of Orthopedic Spinal Injuries in Rochester Hills, MI
Orthopedic spinal injuries can be challenging to diagnose because of the many issues involved. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, as well as an EMG, can help in determining a definitive diagnosis.
If you’re looking for an experienced spine doctor in Rochester Hills and southeast Michigan, look no further than Ahlgren Spine. Dr. Bradley Ahlgren is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon who can provide an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for your spinal injury and back pain.
If you would like to find out more or to schedule a consultation, call our friendly staff today at (248) 215-8080 or fill out our secure online appointment request form now. We look forward to serving you at one of our convenient locations in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Royal Oak!