Using Discography to Evaluate Lower Back Pain

Using Discography to Evaluate Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is an extremely common complaint among American’s, especially in older patients. It can be difficult to diagnose because so many small injuries can cause lower back pain. Damage to a spinal disc or nerve could be the cause of your lower back pain. Discography is a diagnostic tool used to determine if a damaged spinal disc is the reason behind your chronic pain.


What is Lower Back Pain?


The lower back consists of five vertebrae in the lower part of the spine positioned between the ribs and the pelvis. Spinal vertebrae are protected by small, cushioning discs to prevent them from rubbing against one another. Spinal discs are round and flat, with a tough, outer layer that surrounds a jellylike material called the nucleus. Located between each of the vertebra in the spinal column, discs act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones. Of the 31 pairs of spinal nerves and roots, five lumbar and five sacral nerve pairs connect beginning in the area of the lower back. When these nerves are damaged by a fall or accident, they can cause chronic lower back pain. The outer layer of the spinal disc can tear, which exposes the sensitive nerves of the spine. These nerves send signals to all of your limbs and tissues. Exposing these nerves can cause pain signals to be sent to a part of the body constantly.


What is Discography?


Discography is a tool that is used to determine whether an abnormal disc is causing your neck pain. Many doctors find this procedure useful in identifying the source of pain, and whether a disc is damaged at all. Discography is an invasive procedure, so it is not performed early in the diagnosis process. Generally, patients who undergo discography have not responded to the traditional treatment methods, like medications, physical therapy, and changes to their lifestyle and habits. They have also had back pain for at least four to six months, or longer. Discography is usually used in patients who are being evaluated to determine a specific cause of pain so a new treatment plan can be developed to manage the symptoms. Some treatments will not relieve pain completely if they are not specifically designed for a damaged spinal disc or nerve. Discography will tell your doctor where your pain is coming from so it can be stopped at the source, not just covered up with medication.


How is a Discography used to Evaluate Lower Back Pain?


A discogram uses contrast dye to determine if your spinal disc is ruptured, and the reason for your chronic lower back pain. A dye is injected into the disc, and if the dye leaks out of the disc, it is most likely torn or damaged. This helps your doctor to determine where your pain is originating from, and which disc is causing the pain. Discography is a tool that can also rule out a damaged disc.