Diagnosing a bulging disc

A bulging disc diagnosis should be backed by a thorough physical examination and, in some cases, diagnostic imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan.

Individuals should never assume that their symptoms are caused by a bulging disc because what appear to be bulging disc symptoms may actually be caused by another condition that requires a different course of treatment. Many spine conditions have similar symptoms because the symptoms often develop from a pinched nerve near the spine condition.


How a bulging disc is diagnosed

When arriving at your doctor’s office for a bulging disc diagnosis, your physician will typically go through several steps, including:

  • A review of your medical background — This involves questions about your symptoms, current and past health problems, previous accidents, past surgeries and your family’s medical history. You may also discuss medications you are taking as well as your occupation, activity level and participation in sports.
  • Physical examination — Your physician will test your reflexes and muscle strength, as well as determine how your arms and/or legs respond to stimuli. Additionally, your physician may ask you to get in various positions to see if certain movements cause you pain or discomfort, or conversely, relieve your symptoms. Finally, your physician may decide to press on your spine in certain areas, which can help to indicate any spinal arthritis, a lumbar bulging disc, a cervical bulging disc or other degenerative spinal condition.
  • Tests — Once a medical review and physical examination help the physician arrive at a preliminary bulging disc diagnosis, often that diagnosis will be confirmed with a CT scan, MRI or another medical imaging test.

Bulging disc treatments

If your medical history, physical exam and diagnostic tests all point to a bulging disc diagnosis, then it’s likely that your physician will recommend a course of treatments to help ease your pain and other symptoms. Initial bulging disc treatments can vary from rest and physical therapy to pain medications and chiropractic adjustments, as well as other conservative therapies.

If you have undergone a series of conservative treatments and you are still suffering from chronic bulging disc pain, you may be recommended for spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Our minimally invasive procedures offer lower risks and shorter recovery times^ compared to traditional open neck and back surgery.

Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

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