A discography, or discogram, is a diagnostic injection procedure that identifies the cause of a patient’s back pain. The procedure is typically performed on individuals who have not responded to extensive, conservative treatment regimens. A discography may also be used for surgical planning. This diagnostic procedure pressurizes spinal discs with a sterile liquid to induce pain. If pain is felt during the procedure, the source of the pain will have been located and a treatment plan will be determined shortly after.
What is Discography?
Discography, or a discogram, is a diagnostic injection procedure that works as a pain generator to identify the cause of a patient’s back or neck pain – whether it’s caused by a weak, damaged, or displaced disc.
How Does Discography Work?
The procedure attempts to reproduce a patient’s pain in order to isolate which disc is painful and causing the problem. It’s typically performed on individuals who have not responded to extensive, conservative pain treatment regimens.
A discography may also be used for surgical planning.
This diagnostic procedure pressurizes spinal discs with a sterile liquid to induce pain. If pain is felt during the procedure, the source of the pain will have been located and a treatment plan will be determined shortly after.
Expectations and Recovery
You’re advised not to eat after midnight the night before your procedure, among all the other instructions your doctor gives you.
You will also need someone else to transport you home as you will not be allowed to drive immediately after your procedure is completed.
Remember, discography is a diagnostic procedure – not a treatment.
You’ll likely have increased pain in your back 24-48 hours after your procedure, which can be eased with pain medication or ice packs.
Your results will be sent to your physician to help them determine the nature of your back pain and how to potentially treat and resolve it.
What are Typical Causes of Back Pain?
Back pain can be caused by something as simple as a strained muscle or other muscular issues, but there’s a wide range of causes, including:
- Ligament strain
- Herniated or ruptured discs
- Skeletal structure problems (bone fractures or bone spurs)
Other Conservative Treatments for Neck or Back Pain
Other treatments and procedures used to relieve long term back or neck pain include:
- Neck Pain Exercises and Stretching
- In order to strengthen the cervical spine and surrounding muscles, exercises and stretching can be implemented, in conjunction with steroid injections if prior pain relief is necessary.
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- For short-term pain relief (typically 3-4 months), steroid injections can be used to treat neck pain and can be combined with physical therapy and exercise for maximum benefit.
- Nerve Blocks
- Therapeutic nerve blocks contain local pain medications that can control acute pain.
- Radiofrequency Ablation (Rhizotomy)
- A minimally invasive procedure in the neck, middle or lower back, that destroys nerve fibers in the back that carry pain signals. It is performed under fluoroscopy (live x-ray).
- Spinal Cord Stimulation
- If other therapies aren’t effective for treating your pain, an implantable pain management device can be an option. These devices administer mild electrical pulses to block the transmission of pain.