Why is an MRI crucial in diagnosing and treating a herniated disc?

Obtaining an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan can be a very important step in correctly diagnosing a herniated disc in your spine. Unlike an X-ray, which can only capture pictures of bone structure, an MRI uses a magnetic field and a computer to produce and record detailed images of the inner workings of your whole body. This technology is also capable of producing two-dimensional or cross-sectional views of the body, which greatly helps doctors in identifying a herniated disc.

An MRI scan has a number of distinct advantages that benefit a herniated disc patient, including that it is unobtrusive, painless and free of radiation. Also, due to the fact that an MRI is able to focus on a particular part of the body, the results from this advanced technology are proven to be extremely accurate in correctly diagnosing a variety of neck and back issues, like herniated discs. Read on to learn about how a doctor can use an MRI to diagnose your herniated disc condition and what treatment options may be suggested to alleviate symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.

Herniated disc diagnosis with MRI

If you believe you are experiencing a herniated disc in your neck or back, the first step is to visit a doctor, who will be able to give you a full examination and review of your medical history to make a preliminary diagnosis. After that, you may be referred to an imaging specialist to perform an MRI that can confirm and pinpoint the herniated disc diagnosis.

At the imaging center, you will be placed into the tubular MRI machine for a body scan. You may remain enclosed in the MRI machine for up to an hour while the detailed scan of your spine or other area is completed. The MRI can show the exact condition of the herniated disc and surrounding spinal structures. This allows your doctor to better understand the origin of the disc damage and resulting pain to develop the right treatment plan for you.

Treatment options for a herniated disc

Most patients are able to successfully treat herniated disc pain with nonsurgical conservative treatments prescribed by their doctors. These include anti-inflammatories, chiropractic visits, physical therapy, acupuncture and epidural steroids, which allow the herniated disc to shrink and heal on its own. When conservative treatment does not bring a desired return to previous activity after six to 12 weeks, surgery can then be explored.

If you are researching surgical options and have become concerned by some of the risks and unsuccessful outcomes of traditional open back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. We offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures that are able to have patients up and walking within a few hours after surgery.^ We have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck or back conditions.

Our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive spine surgery, including minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgeries. These procedures are completed using a small incision and muscle-sparing techniques to remove the herniated portion of the disc and treat some of the most severe symptoms.

Our dedicated team can complete a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, which can help you get your life back from the discomfort associated with a herniated disc.

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