To accurately diagnose disk pain, one or a combination of the following tests may be done. The right diagnosis can also help determine the best herniated disk treatment or bulging disk treatment for a specific case.
Palpating specific structures can help determine the pain source. For instance, severe pain when pressure is applied to the spine can mean sensitivity secondary to a damaged disk.
A neurological exam may be carried out to determine if the nerve root is compressed by a herniated disk. It is also done to assess muscle strength. A muscle strength test can include holding the legs or the arms out to the front or side of the body. Doctors will also check for muscle atrophy, tremors, and other abnormal movements.
Nerve root irritation can affect the reflexes of the legs and arms. A reflex involves using a reflex hammer to tap into certain areas of the body. If there is minimal or no reaction, it can signify a compressed nerve root in the spine.
Movement tests designed to assess the spine’s range of motion can include bending the torso or neck backward, forward, and to the side. In addition, if raising a leg in front of the body worsens the leg pain, it can be a sign of a lumbar herniated disk.