To get treatment for back pain, it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis of its cause. Doctors can use this diagnosis to formulate the best possible treatment.
Diagnosing back pain with a discogram
Doctors use a few different techniques for diagnosing back pain. They will review your symptoms and consider factors like medical history, lifestyle choices or age.
Many diagnoses are completed with the use of imaging. X-rays, MRIs and CT scans can provide an in-depth view of your body at the source of pain. Doctors can use these images to visually identify abnormalities that may be contributing to your pain.
One common contributor to back pain stemming from the spine is disc dysfunction. The discs are supposed to cushion the vertebrae from friction and impact. However, when the discs wear down or rupture, they can cause pain and put pressure on the nerves in your spine.
Discs do not normally show up in X-ray images or CT scans. So, when a doctor needs to see the disc, they will use a discogram.
What is a discogram?
A discogram is a diagnostic test for determining the cause of back pain. If your doctor believes the discs may be complicit in your pain, he or she may order a discogram for confirmation.
During a discogram, a spine specialist will inject a special dye directly into the disc in your spine. This dye is designed to display in X-ray and CT scan imaging. When the dye enters the disc, it fills up the disc’s space. This allows doctors to see a clear outline of the disc’s shape to determine if it’s healthy or not.
Are discograms safe?
Discograms are generally a safe procedure. Complications are very rare, though they can occur.
Potential complications during discogram may include:
- Allergic reaction
- Nerve damage
- Blood loss