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What Is a Lumbar Discography & Can It Treat Accident Pain?

If your current treatment for chronic pain isn’t working anymore, a lumbar discography could provide insight into the source of your pain.

Discography is an outpatient procedure that is used to locate back pain that is caused by spinal lesions, which enables doctors to design a treatment plan that targets the problem.

Keep reading to learn more from our pain management team at Impact Medical Sun City Center.

What Does Discography Mean?

Damaged or herniated spinal discs can lead to degenerative disc disease. This is a condition that occurs due to aging or injury and can cause back pain that may extend to the thighs and buttocks. This pain is like the discomfort that stems from facet syndrome or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Unfortunately, diagnosing and treating these conditions is difficult, even with an MRI, physical examination, and comprehensive medical history.

Discography is a diagnostic imaging test that evaluates back pain to determine if its source is spinal disc damage. Considered an invasive procedure, it is not the first test that doctors rely on to evaluate back pain and is only suggested as a last resort after trying physical therapy.

Do I Need Lumbar Discography?

It is important to note, lumbar discography is not a treatment. Rather, it is a diagnostic tool that is used to aid doctors in designing a treatment plan for chronic back pain where the cause is hard to diagnose.

In many cases, you may undergo lumbar discography after you experience 4-6 months of chronic back pain that is not related to an injury or underlying disease. An Impact Medical doctor may recommend a lumbar discography to help them create a plan to treat your pain more effectively or to help them determine if surgery is necessary.

The Stages of Lumbar Discography

Here is what you can expect if you undergo lumbar discography:

#1. Physical Assessment

The first stage in a lumbar discography is the physical exam and medical history phase. In this stage, your doctor will interview you and review your medical history to assess your state of health.

The stage ensures that your doctor has the correct information to provide you with the best care. Your doctor will also give you essential details outlining the procedure during this phase.

#2. Preparation

If you agree to undergo lumbar discography, your discographer might administer a sedative to keep you relaxed during the procedure. This is not compulsory, and some doctors may not use sedatives to avoid interfering with any sensations that you may feel that can help diagnose your back pain. You may also receive antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.

Before the procedure, you will lie on your side or abdomen on a specialized table. The doctor will use a fluoroscopic (X-ray) unit to mark your back with an ink pen. These markings indicated the disc spaces that will be examined.

#3. The Procedure

To begin, your doctor will administer a numbing injection to reduce your pain from the discogram needle. The discogram needle will enter your body safely and precisely through the fluoroscope.

Next, your doctor will inject a contrast dye into the disc and check to see if it spreads using an x-ray or CT scan. The dye will stay in the center of a normal disc but will spread outside the center of a worn-out disc, which could be the reason for chronic back pain after an accident.

During the procedure, you may feel pressure, pain, or even nothing. If you feel any pain that is similar to the backache that you already have, it indicates that the disc that is being examined is likely the source of your lumbar pain. A normal disc will produce little to no pain when examined.

#4. Post-Procedure

After the procedure is complete, you will remain under observation for about an hour. Then you will be free to leave, barring any complications. Driving yourself is unwise, so make sure you have someone to take you home.

You may feel pain at the injection site for a few hours after the procedure. This is normal and can be relieved with ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can also apply ice packs to the injection site every 20 minutes to relieve pain.

Now that the procedure is complete, your doctor will assess your medical history and images. This will give them an idea of how to properly treat your condition.

Relief from Chronic Pain

Though lumbar discography itself will not treat your chronic back pain after an accident, it is a tool that can be used by our pain management team at Impact Medical Sun City Center to create a treatment plan to relieve your pain.

Say goodbye to chronic back pain. Call Impact Medical Sun City Center to schedule an appointment today at (813) 938-5195!