In most herniated disc cases,dis a physical exam and a medical history are all that's needed to make a diagnosis. Before determining which type of treatment is best for you, your doctor will also want to determine the type of herniation you have - contained vs. Non-contained disc - and rule out other conditions that can cause chronic lower back and leg pain. Chronic low back and leg pain may have many other causes and in many cases patients may be able to prevent back surgery by first undergoing conservative care treatments which includes chiropractic care, exercise therapy, and pain medications.

For these reasons it is important to have a thorough medical evaluation and diagnostic work-up prior to considering and undergoing surgery. Your doctor may order one or more of the following diagnostic imaging tests:

To learn about your diagnosis and if you qualify for non invasive methods See our Physician Locator to find an outpatient office. Or call us toll free at 1-888-747-7470. See our video testimonials for real life successes and learn more about this same day procedure that may help.

X-ray imaging. Conventional and enhanced x-ray imaging is often the first imaging technique used to see the bones in your spine. Although plain x-rays do not detect herniated disks or lumbar degenerative disc disease, they are often used to look for broken bones or an injured vertabrae along with other causes of chronic low back pain including infection, tumor, spinal alignment issues, narrowed vertebral spinal channels (spinal stenosis), fractures, bone spurs (osteophytes), or osteoarthritis.

Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan is a quick and painless process in which a scanner takes a series of pictures from many different directions and combines them to create three-dimensional cross-sectional images of your spinal column and the structures around it. Bones, soft tissues and nerves can be visualized. A CT scan is generally done when disc rupture, spinal stenosis, or trauma to vertebrae is suspected as the cause of lumbar spine pain.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This non-invasive procedure uses radio waves to evaluate the lumbar region for bone degeneration, degenerative joints, or injury or diseases in tissues or nerves, muscles, ligaments, and blood vessels. This test can be used to confirm the location of the herniated disc and to see which nerves are affected. It represents the gold standard in imaging and is best for looking at soft tissues such as discs or nerves.

Discography. A special contrast dye is injected into the spinal disc at the level thought to be causing the lower back pain. The dye outlines the damaged or degenerative areas on x-ray and the fluid injection may replicate your symptoms, which may include leg pain. It is most often used to confirm or deny evidence of nerve involvement and to verify the level of the slipped disk or herniation causing the pain.

Myelogram. A dye is injected into the spinal fluid, and then X-rays are taken. This test can show pressure on your spinal cord or nerves due to multiple herniated discs or other conditions.

Electromyelogram (EMG). An EMG involves placing small needles into various muscles and measuring electrical activity. The muscle's response, which indicates the degree of nerve activity, is measured. This test is able to help your doctor distinguish between nerve root disease and muscle disease. An EMG can also help determine which nerve root or roots are being affected by the disc herniation.

Bone Scan. This test may help to detect very fine stress fractures, arthritis, infections, or tumors. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into your blood stream and collects in the bones, particularly in areas of abnormality. A scanner can detect the amount of radiation in all your bones and show the "hot spots" (the areas with more radioactive material) to help your doctor determine the location of the problem.