The struggle of enduring chronic pain without a clear source often feels overwhelming—especially when it seems like there’s no end in sight. But there are minimally invasive procedures that can help you diagnose problem areas, lead to effective treatment and lasting relief.
If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, but non-invasive tests have come back inconclusive, discography for back pain may be the right choice for you. Read on to learn what discography is, what to expect from the procedure, and who the best candidates are.
What is discography?
Discography is an outpatient imaging procedure that lets doctors identify the source of chronic back pain. A physician will perform discography under slight anesthetic, making it minimally invasive and practical for many patients searching for solutions to their persistent discomfort.
How does discography work?
During a discography, patients lie on their stomach while X-ray contrast liquid is injected. Your doctor will then take an X-ray and analyze it to determine which, if any, intervertebral discs are causing your pain.
Discography is a diagnostic procedure, meaning it won’t resolve your discomfort. It simply helps your doctor pinpoint the source of your pain so he or she can discuss effective treatment options with you.
Does discography hurt?
It’s normal to ask this before any procedure. To decrease the possibility of pain, physicians will often administer local anesthetic and an IV at the beginning of the procedure.
When your doctor injects the contrast liquid, you may experience pain similar to what you normally feel. This means he or she has located the source of your pain and can treat it with a variety of pain reduction techniques, including medication management, physical therapy options, and injections.
Are there risks or side effects?
Discography has minimal risks and side effects, but there are a few potential concerns patients may have. Afterward, you might experience increased pain at the injection site, but this is usually temporary.
Because this procedure occurs near the spine, there is a small risk of nerve damage or puncturing the sack of spinal fluid. This may cause headaches, but your doctor can guide you on treating these.
As with any procedure, there are small risks of infection or bleeding, but your physician will walk you through ways to prevent these. Most patients have few (or no) side effects with discographies, and they benefit from the resulting diagnosis that leads to effective treatment options.
Who is a candidate for discography?
If you have consistent pain in your neck, back, and legs—and you suspect a disc problem—you may be a candidate for discography. If other tests have been unable to pinpoint the source of your pain, you are likely the best candidate for the procedure.
If you’re taking blood-thinning medication, currently fighting an infection, or allergic to medications used in the procedure, talk to your doctor about other options for locating the source of your back pain.
Watching non-invasive tests come back inconclusive is frustrating, but you shouldn’t have to suffer when there are other options. If you’re experiencing this, consider talking to an expert about discography for back pain. He or she can help you pinpoint the source of your chronic discomfort and work toward finding a long-term solution.
Lafayette Pain Care is a pain clinic in Indiana. We’re dedicated to helping our patients find lasting relief from chronic and acute pain so they can return to the activities they love. For more information, please visit our website and like us on Facebook.