Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Does all spinal pain require a discogram?"
I've been having chronic back pain for years and am trying a new doctor to get it treated. This doctor wants to do a discogram, but I don't understand why that's necessary
There is a broad differential diagnosis associated with low back pain, and performing a discogram is only one method out of a multitude of tests that can be done to identify the underlying cause. During a discogram, a dye is injected within the disc that is considered to be the pain causing culprit. If the pain you normally experience is similar or exacerbated during the injection, and the x-rays done after the procedure show that there is a tear within the outer covering of the disc (known as the annulus), then this may guide the surgeon in planning for a surgical intervention. On the other hand, there are many other tests that may be done prior to having a discogram that can give a great deal of information as well. Also, a trial of steroids, epidural injections, physical therapy, anti spasm medications, acupuncture and massage therapy may be a good place to see if nonsurgical methods to treat your back pain may be of some help. The risks, benefits, and complications associated with discograms are beyond the scope of this discussion, and it is recommended that you discuss this procedure further with your pain management specialist or primary care doctor.
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