Diagnosis begins with a complete patient history. You will be asked how your pain started, where it travels, and exactly what it feels like.
A physical examination may help pinpoint the irritated nerve root. Tests include assessment of your muscle power by asking you to walk on your heels and toes, and perform a straight-leg raise test.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is the investigation of choice and will help to confirm which nerve roots are affected.
Indications for surgery:
Patients who have unrelenting pain that fails to settle are potentially candidates for surgery. In addition patients who present with muscle weakness from the start of their symptoms may benefit from surgery undertaken at a significantly earlier time. This has been shown to improve their chances of muscle recovery.