Diagnosis of Herniated Disc

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When you go to your physician about pain coming from your back, you might suspect to get a diagnosis of herniated disc. On the other hand, you may have no idea what is wrong. Either way, the doctor will have different ways to come to a diagnosis of herniated disc.

The doctor will start with a medical history. He/she may do this or have an assistant take care of it. The medical history will focus on problems of your family members and problems that you have had. Any instances of herniated disc in the family will be interesting to the doctor.

The doctor will ask you what kind of work you do and if you have done anything different lately. You will be asked how much you exercise. Your physician will want to know if you have had any injuries to or surgeries on your back in the past. Any information you have that relates to your back will help the doctor in determining if the diagnosis of herniated disc is appropriate.

The next step in the diagnosis of herniated disc is to do a simple physical examination. If you feel pain or numbness in your legs, you might be surprised at even the possibility of a diagnosis of herniated disc.

Your doctor will have you cross your legs and will raise the leg that’s feeling normal. Then you will be asked to hold your legs straight and raise the leg that is causing you problems. In either case, pain behind the knee can mean a diagnosis of herniated disc.

That may be enough to make a diagnosis of herniated disc without any further tests. However, to be sure, and to prepare for treatment, tests may be done. X-rays are the simplest and most common of these tests. They will only show how the bones fit together but will not be an extremely clear image of the discs.

Computerized tomography may be used to provide cross-sectional images of your body for further detail. This is also called a CT scan. MRI’s or magnetic resonance imaging tests can also be used to aid in the diagnosis of herniated disc. With these two tests, more details become evident than with a regular X-ray. This makes it easier for the doctor to confirm the diagnosis of herniated disc.

However, there may still be questions, especially if surgery is being considered. The doctor will want all the information available before taking such drastic measures. There are other tests that can be done to help with the diagnosis of herniated disc. One easy addition to the X-ray and CT scan would be to add an injected dye to make the structures of the spinal nerves stand out.

Another test that is used less frequently is the electrical nerve conduction test. To do this test, tiny needles are inserted into you muscles at key points. These are used to pick up any electrical activity in the muscles. What the examiner is looking for is damage to the nerves which would lead to a diagnosis of herniated disc.

In the end, doctors must use a variety of methods to make the diagnosis of herniated disc. For one thing, not everything that shows up on an imaging test is actually a problem. For another, some problems are difficult to see at all. Making a diagnosis of herniated disc takes a good deal of medical skill.

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