As we age, the discs in our spines degenerate—that is, they lose water and decrease in height. Because disc degeneration happens naturally as a function of growing older, it is considered a normal part of aging and is not always a source of pain. For some people, this degeneration can lead to pain in the neck or back. In cases of severe degeneration, pain results from the spine pressing on nerve roots. If you’re suffering from lower back pain that was not caused by an injury, disc degeneration may be to blame. Fortunately, our Texas pain specialists have many different methods of determining the root cause of lower back pain symptoms—including discographies.
You may be wondering, “What is a discography & how can it help persistent back pain?” Read on to learn how disc degeneration is identified, how it is treated, and how qualified Texas pain management doctors in San Antonio can help you choose the right back pain treatment so you can obtain back pain relief.
Symptoms of Disc Degeneration
Wondering if your back pain may be caused by disc degeneration? You should know that the most indicative symptom of disc degeneration is a continuous, moderate or dull pain that occasionally flares up (for days or weeks) into a more serious form of pain.
Other symptoms of degenerating discs include:
- Local tenderness in the lower back area
- Painful sitting
- Leg pain (sometimes accompanied by numbness or weakness)
- Feelings of sudden weakness in the lower back
Discographies: How Texas Pain Specialists Identify Disc Degeneration and Find the Right Back Pain Treatment
So, what is a discography & how can it help persistent back pain? According to Dr. Raul Martinez, a discography (sometimes called a “discogram”) is a procedure used by doctors to determine if disc abnormalities are causing your back pain symptoms. Lumbar discographies are used to figure out which specific disc is the cause of your lower back pain, so that a treatment plan can be developed.
What to Expect During a Discography
During a discography, your doctor will apply a local anesthetic to the affected area of your spine while you are lying on your side or on your abdomen. Although you will need to be awake during the procedure, you may be given a light sedative to help you relax. Then, the doctor will carefully insert needles into one or more spinal discs. These needles will be used to inject x-ray dye into each disc. If the dye is injected into a normal, healthy disc, you won’t experience pain. If the injection is painful, then it signals the presence of disc abnormalities.
During the procedure, patients are asked to rate their pain levels after each injection. After the dye has been injected, an x-ray will be taken, which will be used to look for tears in the disc lining. When healthy discs are injected, the contrast dye will remain in the center of the disc. If the disc has fissures or other damage, the dye may spread outside the disc’s center on the x-ray. For a helpful video illustration of this procedure (and many other procedures as well), visit our website.
Suffering From Persistent Back Pain? We Can Help
If you’re suffering from persistent pain symptoms and have been unsuccessful in finding a back pain treatment plan that works for you, our Texas pain specialists in San Antonio are here to help you find back pain relief.
Our Texas pain management doctors at the offices of Dr. Raul Martinez have years of experience identifying and treating various causes of back pain. We offer both surgical and non-surgical options using the latest and best techniques available. Since no one treatment is universal, we offer customized treatment plans to our patients to address their unique symptoms and needs.
For more information, check out our treatment education resources or schedule an appointment today to find out how we can help.