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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Medical History and Physical Exam for a Lumbar Herniated Disc
During the first visit to your doctor for a
lumbar (low back) herniated disc, you will be asked about your medical
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.
tests may include:
In addition to the above tests, the physical exam may
also include general abdominal (belly), pelvic, and rectal exams.
A history and physical exam are done
when symptoms of a herniated disc (such as leg pain or numbness) are
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 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
A herniated disc can usually be
diagnosed using a medical history and physical exam.
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
March 12, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
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