Workers comp low back pain diagnostic tests to determine a herniated disc from a work accident or job duties over time include the following. Keep in mind every case is different and only a doctor with benefit of a good history and clinical examination is in a position to determine which tests are appropriate.

MRI Scans

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnetic waves to create pictures of the lumbar spine in slices. The MRI scan shows the lumbar spine bones as well as the soft tissue structures such as the discs, joints, and nerves. MRI scans are painless and don’t require needles or dye. The MRI scan has become the most common test to look at the lumbar spine after X-rays have been taken.

CT Scans

The computed tomography (CT) scan is a special X-ray that lets doctors see slices of bone tissue. The machine uses a computer and X-rays to create these slices. It is used primarily when problems are suspected in the bones.


The myelogram is a special kind of X-ray test where a special dye is injected into the spinal sac. The dye shows up on an X-ray helping visualize a herniated disc. Myelogram is not used as often today due to the advent of MRI.


A discogram has two parts. First, saline is injected into the disc to create pressure. If this reproduces your pain, then it suggests that the disc is the source of your pain. During the second part of the test, dye is injected into the disc. The dye can be seen on X-ray. Using both regular X-rays and CT scan images, the dye outlines the inside of the disc. This can show annular tears and ruptures of the disc.

Bone Scan

A bone scan is a special test where radioactive tracers are injected into the blood stream. The tracers then show up on special X-rays, showing build up in areas where bone is undergoing a rapid repair process, such as a healing fracture. Usually the bone scan is used to locate the problem. Other tests such as the CT scan or MRI scan are then used to look at the area in detail.


An electromyogram (EMG) is a special test used to determine if there are problems such as the nerve roots having been pinched by a herniated disc. During the test, small needles are placed into certain muscles that are supplied by each nerve root. If there has been a change in the function of the nerve, the muscle will send off different types of electrical signals.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents injured workers with low back pain in workers compensation claim cases.