Discography Back Pain Specialist Doctors NYC

Back pain can be debilitating, but to treat it, our NYC pain management specialists needs to know exactly where the pain is coming from and what’s causing the pain. Only by confirming an accurate diagnosis can a proper course of treatment be prescribed. If other diagnostic procedures can’t confirm the pain source, your doctor may have to perform a discography test. To start a discography test, your pain management specialist has to determine the area of your spine that’s causing your back pain. If he can narrow it down to one or two, through other diagnostic procedures, he then injects a dye into one or more of your discs. The dye can reveal cracks, breaks or leaks in your disc or discs through a subsequent X-ray or CT scan.

Your spine is a structured network of bones, cartilage, nerves, ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. So sometimes, getting at the root cause of your pain requires a more conclusive test than an MRI, CT scan or ultrasound. Discography is a medical test that can help your pain management doctor determine if the source of your back pain is one of your vertebral discs.

The Shock Absorbers of Your Spine

The discs in your spine sit between the bones, cushioning and protecting the bones when you jump or jar your back. The discs allow the flexibility you normally enjoy, providing the soft space between the bones that enable you to bend and twist. Even with ligaments, tendons and muscles holding everything together, you’d be immobile without discs.

Your vertebral discs have a thick outer shell that holds in the jelly-like, softer interior. Discs can squish in different ways when healthy, keeping your vertebrae — the bones of your spine — from grinding against one another. But your discs can become more brittle with age, and they can be damaged by accident or illness.

The Discography Process

Since discography is a more invasive procedure than other diagnostic tests, your pain management doctor only uses it when he absolutely has to. You may feel some pain during the injection, but it’s usually short-lived. There is no permanent damage from the test, as your body eventually absorbs and discards the dye.

Diagnosing Back Pain

Your NYC pain management doctor can’t treat you without a diagnosis, even though most doctors start you off with conservative pain relief treatments. The discography test is done when your doctor suspects a disc is causing your pain but can’t find other corroborating evidence. During the discography:

  • The process takes about a half hour, although you may need up to three hours from the time you arrive to the time you can leave.
  • You may be given a sedative to help you relax.
  • A fluoroscope or X-ray allows your doctor to pinpoint the spot to insert the needle with the dye.
  • If your back pain is due to the disc, you may feel similar pain during the injection. It is not intolerable, and the sedative helps reduce the pain.
  • After the dye is injected, the fluoroscope or X-ray shows if the dye stayed in the center of your disc, indicating that it’s healthy, or not.

Your doctor reviews the image while you relax and recuperate. Rarely is a discography test alone enough to make a diagnosis; it just confirms what your doctor already suspected, based on your description of your pain, a physical exam and other diagnostic procedures.

Stanford Pain & Sports Medicine of NYC
51 East 25th St, 4th Floor, Ste B
New York, NY 10010
(212) 533-3954