If you have been experiencing pain, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling and think that you might have a bulging disc, schedule an appointment with your physician to confirm a bulging disc diagnosis.

Medical history review

As part of the diagnostic process your physician will complete a full review of your medical history. The medical history review can help to identify or rule out any other conditions that might be contributing to your pain. In order to conduct a full medical history review, your physician will ask questions about your history and family history of illness and surgery, previous medical diagnoses, current medication, recurring health problems and any other past or current health conditions or concerns.

Physical Examination

Your physician will also conduct a full physical examination in order to gain a thorough understanding of your current health status and physical symptoms. If your physician suspects that a bulging disc is the cause of your symptoms, he or she will perform physical tests to determine if a bulging disc has affected your muscle strength. Your physician may also palpate certain parts of your body to determine where you are experiencing pain and how it is affected by light physical pressure. A reflex hammer may be used to test the function of nerves and reflexes at certain points on the body as well.

Symptoms review

Another step in the process of diagnosing a bulging disc is a thorough review of all of the symptoms you are experiencing. Your physician may ask you some of the following questions in order to review all of your symptoms:

  • In what locations are you feeling pain?
  • Describe the pain you are experiencing. Is it localized, radiating, sharp or throbbing?
  • Does your pain increase or decrease with certain activity or movement?
  • Are you experiencing any muscle weakness?
  • Are you experiencing any loss of sensation or pins-and-needles?

All of these questions will help your physician better understand the symptoms you are experiencing and help determine an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnostic testing

Your physician may order one or more diagnostic tests in order to confirm a bulging disc diagnosis. Diagnostic and imaging tests that may be ordered include CT scan, MRI, or discogram.

Once your physician has confirmed a bulging disc diagnosis, he or she will discuss conservative treatment options and surgical options to alleviate your pain.