How Do You Diagnose a Bulging Disc?

For a physician to diagnose a bulging disc they need to look at a few different aspects of your pain. The medical history of the patient is taken into account, along with physical examination. If deemed necessary, diagnostic tests will also be ordered. The medical history of the patient will help describe when the pain started, what the patient was doing that caused it, what the pain feels like; Is it a burning sensation? Does it radiate to the arms? Does it feel less intense in one position rather than the other?

During the physical examination the physician will test for nerve function as well as how strong the muscle is in certain areas of either the arm or leg. The physical manipulation tests that are performed should give your doctor a good idea of what condition or injury may be causing the pain.

If your symptoms are severe and threaten to cause permanent damage to your spine or its surrounding structures, bulging disc surgery may be required before conservative methods are attempted.

Diagnostic Tests for a Bulging Disc

Because the vertebral disc is comprised of tissue, an X-ray will not have favorable results. A CT scan may be ordered if access to an MRI machine is difficult, but these results are subpar compared to results that an MRI would provide. An MRI can provide detailed views of a bulging disc and nerves that may be compressed or impinged. Once diagnosis is confirmed, treatment may begin.