Diagnosing a Ruptured Disc
To diagnose a ruptured disc, your physician will start with discussing your medical history, and then he or she will conduct a physical examination. Throughout this process, your physician probably will ask you specific questions about your symptoms, as your answers can provide clues to whether you have a ruptured disc or another condition.
After the medical history, physical exam, and discussion of your symptoms, a ruptured disc diagnosis may include diagnostic and imaging tests, such as:
- Blood tests
- CT scan
- Electromyogram (EMG)
- Nerve root block test
Interestingly, some of these tests – like X-rays and blood tests – will not show the doctor that you have a ruptured disc, but they will rule out other conditions like an infection, fracture, or tumor. This exemplifies why diagnosing a ruptured disc can be difficult; as its symptoms of numbness, weakness, and tingling in the arm, lower back, thigh, or leg can resemble other conditions including sciatica or spinal stenosis.
When a disc becomes damaged, either due to aging or injury, the outer layer known as the annulus fibrosus can break open and push out the material inside called nucleus pulposus, a jellylike material that acts as the disc’s shock absorber. With nowhere to go except into the narrow spinal canal, the nucleus can put pressure on the spine’s nerve roots or spinal cord, causing pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, and other ruptured disc symptoms.
If you’re experiencing lower back or neck pain, contact your physician. He or she can determine whether or not the pain you feel is caused by a cervical ruptured disc, lumbar ruptured disc, or thoracic ruptured disc. Treatment options depend on the location of the ruptured disc and may include over-the-counter medication to reduce pain, as well as physical therapy for ruptured discs.
For symptoms that persist despite conservative treatments, patients might require surgery to obtain relief. Laser Spine Institute offers free MRI or CT scan reviews to determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive, state-of-the-art endoscopic procedures. Contact LSI today for more information about theinstitute, and learn how we can help you get back to living an active lifestyle once more.