According to WEB MD:
“The bones that form the spine (backbone) are cushioned by round, flat discs. When these discs are damaged from an injury, normal wear and tear, or disease, they may bulge abnormally or break open (rupture) in what is called a herniated or slipped disc.
Spinal discs break down with age, becoming drier, less flexible, and more easily damaged. Injury and prolonged overuse or misuse can speed the formation of tiny tears in a disc’s outer covering (capsule).
Excessive pressure on a weakened disc can cause some of the jellylike material in the center of the disc to squeeze through the tears in the capsule, causing the disc to rupture (herniate) into the space that surrounds a nerve root or the spinal canal. A herniated disc can interfere with nerve function, leading to weakness, numbness, or pain in a leg or arm.”
In many cases, symptoms of a herniated disc can be managed with nonsurgical treatment and will go away over time. In a few cases, surgery is needed.
Diagnosis and Testing For Herniated Discs
It is important that when you first experience pain that you consult your family physician. Your doctor will look at your complete medical history to understand your symptoms, any prior injuries or conditions, and determine if any lifestyle habits are causing the pain. Next a physical exam is performed to determine the source of the pain and test for any muscle weakness or numbness.
Your doctor may order any one or a combination of the following tests to complete the diagnosis:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
- EMG Testing
In the case of Herniated Discs an electro-myelogram (EMG) involves placing small needles into various muscles and measuring the electrical activity. The muscle’s response in the EMG Test indicates the degree of nerve activity. An EMG Test can help determine which nerve root or roots are being affected by the disk herniation.
Based on the results, you may be referred to a neurologist, orthopedist, or neurosurgeon for treatment.