During the initial visit to your physician they would check your back for tenderness. You would be asked to lie flat on the table and move your legs in different positions to help your physician understand the cause of the pain. A neurological exam would then follow the physical exams to check your reflexes and muscle strength. The doctor might also check your ability to feel any sort of touch, pinprick and vibrations.
It is easy to diagnose a herniated disc simply by getting a medical history and physical exam. However if your doctor feels that you need to be evaluated further they might order you imaging test like X-rays and CT scan. The CT scanner takes a series of X rays from a number of directions. All these x-rays are then combined to create a cross section image of your spine. An MRI makes use of radio waves with strong magnetic field to create an image of your body’s internal structure. This test can help confirm the location of the herniated disc and to see the nerves which have been affected by it.
Suggested herniated disc treatment
The first step towards treatment is conservative. Firstly your doctor will help you modify activities which would avoid movement and might result in pain. For the pain you would be given been medications which can help relieve symptoms for most people in a number of days. The medications are usually given if the pain is mild to moderate. However if you cannot find any reduction in the pain with the help of medicines you might be given cortisone injections. A corticosteroid is injected into the area in the spinal nerve. At the same time you might be suggested muscle relaxers especially if you have muscle spasms. However it should be kept in mind that these might lead to sedation and dizziness.
If above treatments are unable to reduce the pain your doctor might suggest the use of opioids. These have a number of side effects which could prove to be harmful in the long run. Some doctors also suggest physical therapy and a visit to a physiotherapist. The movement of certain muscles in your body can also help relieve the pain. However it is important that you do all exercises under the watchful eye of your trainer.
There are certain people with herniated disc who might eventually need surgical intervention. A doctor only suggest surgery if the conservative treatments have failed to improve the symptoms within 6 weeks. If you continue having pain which cannot be controlled with the help of medication or if you are feeling numbness or weakness in any part of your body you need to see your doctor immediately. If it has affected your mobility for example you might have difficulty standing or walking it is important that you let your doctor know about it.
The surgeon would remove the protruding part of the disc so as to relieve the pressure on the nerves. Make sure that you keep the above mentioned things in mind while looking for a doctor to treat a herniated disk.