This is a procedure used to diagnose painful discs. Discs normally aren’t painful. Only the outer portion of the disc has pain fibers. As discs degenerate, the inner jelly of the disc can come in contact with the outer pain fibers causing the disc to become painful. This is known as discogenic pain. It can be very debilitating, and proper diagnosis will help guide treatment.
Patients will have an IV started and antibiotics are administered. Sedation is given to keep you comfortable, but you do need to be awake for the procedure. A needle is gently placed inside the disc that is suspect, as well as a normal disc for control. Dye is injected into the disc with a pressure manometer and pressures are measured. You will be asked if this is the same pain that you normally have. We will also be looking for leak patterns during the procedure, which would indicate tears in the outer portion of the disc. From this information we can tell what discs are causing your pain and which are not. This information is extremely useful in guiding the various treatment options. Patients can be treated with weight loss, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections. Sometimes all of these modalities fail, and surgical stabilization is needed.