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Spine Testing and Diagnosis

Our Banner Brain & Spine experts specialize in providing comprehensive and compassionate care to patients experiencing back and neck pain. Before your neurologist or orthopedist can determine the best route of treatment for your condition, it’s important to understand the spine disorder or condition you have.

Spine Exam

During your visit with your specialist, they may conduct a spine exam to get a better understanding of your spine and back pain. The spine exam includes an evaluation of how you walk, your posture while walking or sitting and an examination of your back and spine to look for swelling and alignment issues.

Spine Disorder Imaging Tests

To help confirm the diagnosis of your spine condition, your specialist may order one or more imaging tests. These imaging tests can help determine the best type of surgery and treatment options for you.


X-rays can help detect spine defects, tumors, fractured bones and more. An x-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation that takes images of the bones in your body. While x-rays do not show as much detail as other tests, they are usually the first test your doctor will request. Learn more about x-rays


MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce an image. This imaging test shows the soft tissue and discs in your back, as well as the spine and nerves. MRIs are a radiation-free test and may be used instead of an x-ray. Spine MRI images may also show inflammation where you are experiencing back pain. Learn more about MRIs

CT Scan

CT scans can be used to look for nerve damage as well as issues occurring within the tissue surrounding the spine. This scan can also be used to assess the spine for herniated discs and tumors. Learn more about CT scans

Bone Density Scan

A bone density scan measures the bone mineral density in your spine to evaluate how strong your bones are. As we age, our bones become thinner and weaker. This test can help diagnose osteoporosis of the spine and other conditions. Learn more about bone density scans

Nerve Conduction Studies

Nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG) measure how fast electrical activity moves within your nerves and muscles. An EMG test focuses on your muscles both at rest and during activity, while nerve conduction studies focus on the electrical activity in your nerves. Both of these tests detect how the brain is reacting and responding to the electrical waves sent out during the tests. This can help determine if there are any damaged nerves that your specialist should take a closer look at.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are used to help diagnose spine issues that may be caused by an infection. Our team will look at the blood count, especially if the white cell count is high to determine if there is an infection. From there, our team will determine next steps for treatment. This blood work can also be helpful for our team to get a better picture of your overall health.

Spinal Tap

A spinal tap is a test used to help rule out infections that may affect the brain and spinal cord. Your neurologist or orthopedist may also use this test to inject dye for x-ray testing or to inject medications.

Learn more about what to expect during a spinal tap procedure

Once testing is complete and a diagnosis has been made, we’ll work with you to develop a custom treatment plan to treat your spine condition.

We understand that getting answers about your health is your main priority. We’re here to walk you through this journey.