In the past I’ve had several new patients come in and during the history portion of the exam they state that they have had x-rays in the past and were told based on those x-rays that they have a herniated disc. X-rays give a lot of information and can help diagnose a lot of things but a disc herniation is not one of them. They can help visualize the amount of wear and tear in your spine, give us information regarding proper curvature and proper alignment and more importantly rule out significant trauma or disease. But in order to truly diagnose a herniated disc you would need to have a MRI performed.

A lot things play a role in diagnosing a patient. The patients history, age and general overall health are on top of the list. In some cases when the patient doesn’t show improvement with conservative treatment a MRI may be warranted, and based on the findings of that MRI decisions are made regarding the type of treatment that would best help the patient.

So when patients complaining of pain, numbness, tingling or even weakness in their arms or legs come into my office, I let them know that many things can be causing these symptoms and a true disc herniation is present only a very small percentage of the time. More often than not it is a combination of several factors that is causing their pain including soft tissue irritation and swelling. Most of my patients with radiating pain respond very well with chiropractic treatment and never need further diagnostic studies, but if no improvement is shown several other studies can help us identify the true problem.

NCV/EMG-An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during contraction. A nerve conduction study (NCV) measures how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals. An EMG study is usually ordered to find the cause of weakness, paralysis or muscle twitching. Problems in a muscle, the nerves supplying a muscle, the spinal cord or the area of the brain that controls a muscle can cause these symptoms. An EMG study will not show brain or spinal cord diseases. A NCV study is ordered to find damage to the peripheral nervous system which includes all the nerves that lead away from the brain and spinal cord and the smaller nerves that branch out from those nerves.

Vascular Studies- are used to assess the blood flow in the arteries and veins helping to diagnose disorders of the vessels in the upper and lower extremities. Especially important in diabetics.

All of these tests can be ordered by our office if warranted, but usually only if the patient does not respond to conservative chiropractic care or to rule out more severe conditions based on the patients history and exam findings. If you have any questions regarding these tests or to see if you may benefit from chiropractic care please feel free to call Alexandria Chiropractic Center at

859-635-666 or email Dr. Kevin Crowley using our contact form at
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