Discography Can Help With Pain Treatment

Discography Can Help With Pain Treatment

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in the United States.  It is also a cause of missed work for many people.  Chronic back pain can range from a dull, aching pain, to sharp, stabbing, and radiating pain.  Back pain can leave people feeling hopeless, and with a decreased quality of life.  It can stop them from going to work, or participating in social settings.  Chronic back pain is one of the most difficult ailments to treat in the world of pain management because there are so many different aspects that contribute to back pain.  This includes everything from spinal structure to stress.  Fortunately, there are techniques available to help patients suffering from back pain to determine the cause and get some relief.

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Discography is a procedure that can be used by pain management specialists to identify the source of pain for those patients suffering from chronic back pain.  Discography can be used to determine which discs in the spine are leading to discomfort for the patient.  Discography is considered a minimally invasive procedure that is typically performed as an outpatient, meaning the patient has the ability to go home the same day as the procedure is performed.  While it is minimally invasive, it is still a procedure involving the spine, and more conservative options are typically tested before resorting to discography.

Discography includes using a fluoroscopic x-ray needle which is placed in various discs around where the pain may be.  For example, if the pain is in the neck, the needle may be placed in the cervical region of the spine.  If the pain is in the lower back, the needle may be placed in the lumbar region of the spine.  Pressure in the discs is measured and the contrast is used to show the shape of the discs.  This contrast can show cracks that exist in the discs which may be leading to pain.  In addition, injecting the dye can actually reproduce the back pain the patient is feeling, thus confirming the disc that is the source of pain.

The best candidates for discography are patients with persistent back pain despite conservative treatments.  It takes about half an hour to an hour to perform and patients are able to go home the same day.  If there is an issue with the discs, the patient may be required to undergo further imaging studies to better visualize the discs of interest.

Discography is an important diagnostic tool that can be used to evaluate back pain or can be used prior to a spinal fusion to determine which discs need to be removed.  While doctors do not typically rely on discography alone, since wear and tear is not the only cause of spinal pain, it can greatly help to narrow down what may or may not be the cause of the pain.  Methods such as discography are used by pain management specialists which is why it is important to consult with a pain medicine doctor at the pain clinic Chicago if you are undergoing chronic and prolonged pain.