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Prone to Back Pain? Consider Discography

Everyone gets back pain once in a while. Whether it’s from sleeping poorly, lifting something too heavy, or from stress, this kind of back pain usually resolves on its own with time. However, if you’re suffering from back pain that doesn’t seem to go away, it could be something more serious.

The Painless Center offers discography to patients in Tenafly and Carlstadt, New Jersey, to help them diagnose the underlying cause of their back pain. Read on to learn more about this procedure and if you’re a good candidate for it.

What’s involved

Sixty-five million Americans experience back pain every year with 16 million experiencing chronic back pain — when you experience back pain for three months or longer. Back pain can limit your range of motion and make easy tasks like cooking or brushing your teeth incredibly painful.

Discography is a diagnostic procedure to help identify if your back discs are causing a portion or all of your back pain. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and takes about an hour to perform. 

Jason Chiu, MD starts the procedure by administering an IV of sedation medication to keep you comfortable during your procedure. Dr. Chiu uses X-ray imaging to help guide the insertion of small needles into the disc. 

A dye, called a contrast, is inserted into the disc to see how it responds and how you react to the needles being inserted. Your heart rate and blood pressure will also be monitored throughout the procedure. 

Understanding the results

Dr. Chiu will be able to tell during the procedure if your discs are the cause of your back pain. If the dye travels to the center of the disc and you don’t experience any pain, it usually means that you have a healthy disc. 

However, if you experience pain and the dye swarms around the disc, it may mean that you have an unhealthy disc. Dr. Chiu will assess how you respond to each disc’s treatment and incorporate any areas of pain into your treatment plan.

Does it hurt?

Discography is one of the best tests to help diagnose back pain and get to its root cause. However, the only way to pinpoint what’s causing it is by simulating your back pain. You’ve already experienced the pain, so it won’t be any worse than what you’ve already felt. 

Most patients tolerate the procedure well, and Dr. Chiu will provide IV sedation and pain medication to keep you as comfortable as possible. Discography may reveal and put an end to your back pain, so keeping this in mind may make the process easier to overcome.

What to expect afterward

After Dr. Chiu has completed your test, you’ll remain in the testing room for 30-60 minutes afterward. You’ll be able to go home the same day, but will need a friend or family member to pick you up. 

Many patients experience some mild pain at the injection site for a few hours after the procedure. Applying an ice pack to your low back or area of pain can help alleviate the discomfort. You must keep your back dry for 24 hours following your procedure.

If intense back pain occurs or you experience a fever, call us or your primary care physician right away.

Am I a good candidate?

Discography can offer many answers for those dealing with back pain, but it usually isn’t the initial test performed. Usually, Dr. Chiu suggests an MRI or CT scan before discography is suggested. Since it’s considered an invasive test, it’s usually a good option for those who’ve tried medication and physical therapy for four to six months with little to no improvement. 

Dr. Chiu may suggest discography if you’ve undergone an MRI and received inconclusive results. You may be a good candidate if Dr. Chiu believes a disc problem is the culprit of your back pain.

No one deserves to live in pain. If you’re experiencing back pain, the best way to put an end to it is by meeting with Dr. Chiu.

Contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chiu today.

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