Discography

Back Pain Symptoms

There is a wide variation in back pain symptoms, as the symptoms correspond to the cause. Signs and symptoms of back pain include:

  • Shooting, or stabbing, pains.

  • Muscle aches.

  • Limited flexibility, range of motion.

  • Pain that affects the legs, often radiating in nature.

What Is Discography?

The discogram, also known as diskogram, is a test procedure to examine back pain and evaluate and determine which abnormal disc (or discs) in the spinal cord is the source of the patient’s back pain. Spinal discs are cushions with a touch protective cover between the vertebrae of the spinal cord. Through discography a specialist can determine a course of back pain treatment.

What does the procedure look like?

The patient lies on their stomach while being prepared for the procedure. A medication is administered through an intravenous line to relax your nerve, as well as an anesthetic to desensitize the skin and tissue surrounding the disc area. In the procedure, a small x-ray device, referred to as a fluoroscope, is utilized to assist the physician in seeing the exact position of the disc’s location. The patient should be conscious during the procedure, providing feedback to the physician on how or what they are experiencing.

Using the flouroscope, the physician locates the target disk. A needle, referred to as a guide needle, is inserted into the anesthetized track traversing to the fringes of the disc. A smaller needle is inserted into the guide needle to access the disc’s core. This procedure may be done to several discs, depending on how many discs are injured.

Once each needle is secured in place, each disc is pressurized and injected with contrast dye. The patient may experience either pain or an increase in pressure with every injection. If the patient experiences pain the physician will ask them to differentiate the current pain from the pre-existing pain of the condition. The pain being similar is an indicator of a diseased disc.  After each disc is tested pictures are taken through the fluoroscope.

When the procedure is complete, the needles are withdrawn. The entrance wounds are then cleaned and the patient is given a CT scan to generate more images of the interior part of the disc or discs.

Usually a discography is accomplished in an hour or less to complete. The patient may still feel soreness from the affected area for a few more days after the procedure. The physician often advises the patient to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and to place an ice pack on the affected area for a few minutes each day until the pain subsides.

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