There’s a lot to be said about self-reliance, individualism, and toughing things out. Sometimes that’s the only way forward. However, when it comes to chronic pain, these same characteristics can become your worst enemy. Pain is a signal from the body that something is not right. Chronic pain, especially in the back and especially when it gets worse over time, is a blaring alarm that there is something wrong. One possibility is that you have a herniated disk. If the pain starts in your low back and radiates down your leg, the disk is probably in the lumbar spine. When you feel this sort of pain, you need to get yourself to your doctor as fast as possible.
Most experts agree that a herniated disk usually happens gradually. With age, the disks in the spine become less flexible and more prone to injury. Some people seem to have a genetic predisposition. If your job requires a lot of heavy lifting, that can increase your risk as well. While you can reduce your risk with exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, there is no way to eliminate the possibility of this type of injury.
Don’t Wait to Get Treatment for a Herniated Disk
Why should you go to the doctor if you have chronic back pain? Why not just take some more ibuprofen and wait it out? When caught early, herniated disks respond well to conservative treatment. You can get cortisone shots to relieve the pain. Your doctor might prescribe muscle relaxants if you experience muscle spasms. Physical therapy can bring many people a lot of relief. The therapist can give you special exercises to do at home to strengthen your core muscles. They can also show you positions for sitting and standing that will mitigate pain. If the herniation is bad enough, you might have to have surgery. Early treatment may mean that you won’t need surgery.
Electromyograms and nerve conduction studies (or EMG/NCS testing) is often part of diagnosing herniated disks. These tests show how electrical pulses move in the nerve tissue. They can help your doctor figure out exactly where the problem area is. Imaging tests, including x-ray and MRI, can also help diagnose the issue.
Please give our office a call if you need nerve testing in Southern California.