Testing for a herniated disc can be an important step in the diagnosis and treatment of back pain. A herniated disc is a bulging or ruptured disc in the spine that can cause pain and other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness. Depending on the severity of the herniated disc, a doctor may order tests to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the best treatment plan.
One of the most common tests used to diagnose a herniated disc is an imaging test such as an MRI or CT scan. These tests can show a detailed image of the spine, which will help the doctor determine the size, location, and severity of the herniation. The doctor may also order a myelogram, which is an imaging test that uses a contrast dye to help visualize the spinal cord and nerves. This can help distinguish a herniated disc from other causes of back pain.
In addition to imaging tests, the doctor may also order an electromyogram (EMG) or nerve conduction study. This test measures the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves to help diagnose nerve damage. It can help the doctor determine if a herniated disc is causing the symptoms.
Finally, the doctor may ask the patient to undergo a physical exam to check for other signs of a herniated disc. The doctor may check for muscle weakness, reflex changes, and sensation changes. The doctor may also ask the patient to perform certain movements to test for pain or discomfort.
The tests used to diagnose a herniated disc can help the doctor identify the cause of the pain and determine the best course of treatment. Treatment may include rest, physical therapy, medications, or surgery, depending on the severity of the herniation. In some cases, the herniated disc may resolve on its own without any treatment. It is important to speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your specific condition.