A bulging disc can cause pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, pins-and-needles sensation, tingling, and numbness. In order to properly treat a bulging disc, your physician has to diagnose your condition. Learn more about the steps your physician will take to diagnose your painful condition and the treatment options available for a bulging disc.

Medical history review

Your physician will ask you questions about your medical history and your family’s medical history. This will include information about past surgeries, medical conditions, allergies, accidents, physical limitations, prescription medication and vitamins. Your physician may also want to know details about your occupation, activity level, participation in sports, eating habits, drinking habits and smoking history.

A thorough medical history review allows your physician to understand any pre-existing conditions, any past medical history that may be causing symptoms and to rule out other possible conditions. Your medical history will also help your physician make good treatment recommendations specific to you and your health status.

Other steps in a bulging disc diagnosis

In addition to a medical history review, your physician will also complete these additional steps in order to confirm a bulging disc diagnosis:

  • Physical examination. Your physician will perform a physical examination in order to test reflexes and muscle strength. He or she may also ask you to make certain movements or get into specific positions to see if your symptoms are aggravated or relieved.
  • Symptoms review. You will be asked several questions about your symptoms such as when did symptoms start, have symptoms progressed, what types of pain are you experiencing, has there been any improvement, have you tried home care, what areas of the body are affected and are there any activities that make symptoms worse or improve symptoms.
  • Diagnostic testing. In order to confirm a bulging disc diagnosis, your physician may order diagnostic testing such as an MRI or CT scan.

Bulging disc treatment

Once your physician confirms that you have a bulging disc diagnosis, you will work on a treatment plan combining conservative treatment options. Conservative treatment for a bulging disc typically includes some of the following: rest, massage therapy, exercise and stretching, heat and ice therapy, pain medication and physical therapy.

If after a few months of conservative treatment your symptoms are still not under control, consult with your physician about bulging disc surgery. If left untreated, a bulging disc can result in permanent nerve and muscle damage.