Workers Compensation Lumbar Disc Herniation Diagnosis begins with a complete history and physical exam. The doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and how your problem is affecting your daily activities. This is the place where it is very important that the injured worker describe 1) detailed incident description of how he or she got hurt at work if from a single traumatic incident or 2) detailed explanation of the physical job duties that have caused the back pain over the years if from job duties over time as opposed to a single work accident. This medical record can make or break a workers compensation claim.
Then the doctor examines the worker to determine which back movements cause pain or other symptoms.
X-rays are of minor help in diagnosing disc herniations. The discs don’t actually show up on X-rays. However, doctors can tell if the space between the vertebrae is smaller than normal. This can be an indication that wear and tear on one or more discs is causing problems. However, many peoples’ X-rays show degeneration of the discs.
Computed tomography (a CT scan) may be ordered. This is a detailed X-ray that lets doctors see slices of the body’s tissue. The image can show if a herniated disc is putting pressure on a spinal nerve.
Doctors may combine the CT scan with myelography. To do this, a special dye is injected into the space around the spinal canal, called the subarachnoid space. When the CT scan is performed, the dye highlights the spinal cord and nerves.
When more information is needed, the doctor may order magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI machine uses magnetic waves rather than X-rays to show the soft tissues of the body. It gives a clear picture of the discs and whether a herniation is present. Like the CT scan, this machine creates pictures that look like slices of the area your doctor is interested in. The test does not require special dye or a needle.
Doctors sometimes order a specialized X-ray test called discography. Dye is injected into one or more discs and viewed on X-ray while stimulated to determine which disc is causing problems.
Doctors may also order an EMG electrical test to locate more precisely which spinal nerve is being squeezed by measuring how long it takes a muscle to work once a nerve signals it to move.
McCormick Law Milwaukee, Wisconsin workers compensation attorneys review the medical records to determine if a good factual basis exists for an expert opinion on legal causation that the workers compensation lumbar disc herniation is work-related.