Medical History and Physical Exam for a Lumbar Herniated Disc
During the first visit to your doctor for a possible lumbar (low back) herniated disc, you will be asked about your medical history, including:
Your doctor will also ask questions to check for any other conditions that may be causing your symptoms. This may include questions about:
During the physical exam, your doctor will watch how you sit, stand, and walk. You will also be asked to do certain movements while standing, sitting, and lying down. This allows your doctor to assess the flexibility of your spine, any areas of pain or tenderness, and any muscle or nerve problems that typically occur with a herniated disc.
These tests may include:
In addition to the above tests, the physical exam may also include general abdominal (belly), pelvic, and rectal exams.
Why It Is Done
A history and physical exam are done when symptoms of a herniated disc (such as leg pain or numbness) are present.
Findings from the history and physical exam may include the following.
Pain, weakness, or nerve-related symptoms cannot be reproduced during the physical exam. Laboratory tests and additional physical exams may be done to find out whether some other medical condition is causing your symptoms.
Your history provides information that suggests irritation of and pressure on a nerve root may be a cause of your symptoms. Testing done during the physical exam causes pain and/or nerve-related symptoms that are typical of a herniated disc.
Treatment (pain relievers, gradual increase in activities, and other home treatment) may be started at this point. Imaging studies will probably not be needed unless your doctor suspects a more serious cause of nerve root compression, such as an infection or tumor.
What To Think About
A herniated disc can usually be diagnosed using a medical history and physical exam.
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