Can a chiropractor tell if you have a herniated disc in your spine

I was under the impression than an X-ray will not show a herniated disc, but you need an MRI or CT. Does anyone know if a chiropractor can tell via manual examination if you have a herniation? Is MRI the only way to find out?

Herniated discs are often diagnosed by symptoms and medical history. Imaging is nice if you need to be certain (as you do need to be certain before spinal manipulation). You are correct that an x-ray won’t show a herniated disc. It’s often ordered if your symptoms and medical history narrow the diagnosis down to herniated disc or something else; it can rule out the something else. But an MRI is needed to definitively and with certainty diagnose a herniated disc and its location.

No, you cannot feel a herniated disc, whether you’re a chiropractor or an MD.

I’ve seen three chiropractors (one for me, two for my son) in my life, and all of them wanted an MRI before they’d do an adjustment, to make sure they wouldn’t cause more damage. I wouldn’t see a chiropractor who didn’t, if the patient presented with severe chronic pain or obvious spinal deformity.

In addition to WhyNot’s input, know that even if an MRI shows a herniated disc, that doesn’t mean that said disc is a problem. Many herniated discs are seen on MRI done for other reasons, in folks that have absolutely no back symptoms. And many herniations are also seen on patients with back pain whose pain is strictly musculo-skeletal, and not the radicular kind of pain that a herniation may cause.

I still rely much more on patient history and clinical exam to determine if back pain is caused by a possible herniation. And tend to get an MRI only if the patient is not responding to conservative treatment in a reasonable period of time (like 3 months or more) and we’re contemplating an epidural injection or other intervention, or need to establish the diagnosis more quickly.

I do not order MRIs to clear someone for physical therapy for typical radicular low back pain, save in cases of significant cervical spine symptoms.

I also do not believe in chiropractic manipulation other than as a sort of more aggressive physical therapy. I learned a lot about chiropractors after becoming friends with a ‘Scientific Chiropractor’ who despised his own profession, and limited his interventions to manipulation for short periods of time for acute musculo-skeletal problems.

Regular x-rays will not show a herniated disk, and also will not demonstrate chiropractic so-called “subluxations”.

While there has been some movement within chiropractic to do away with standard full-spine x-rays, there are chiros who still promote this practice ((which exposes patients to unnecessary radiation and seldom reveals actual treatable pathology),

The only thing a chirprctor can tell is if you have money you’re willing to give to a half-baked physical therapist who mixes a dose of not-bullshit with a whole lot of woo-woo bullshit and keeps you coming back forever.

If you have that, they can tell immediately.

Anything medically wrong with you, they can only tell by asking a doctor. A chiropractor who claims to diagnose you with a medical condition is practicing medicine without a license. Unless they happen to also be a licensed physician of course.