Discogram

The first step of addressing lower back pain is to uncover what is the cause of the pain. One of the more popular diagnostic procedures for understanding back pain is a discogram.

A discogram is a provocative test performed with the goal of reproducing  a symptom rather than resolving the problem in order to determine the cause of the pain itself. 

In the human spine, there are discs that exist between the vertebrae, helping to absorb shock and provide flexibility to the spine.  As individuals age, disc degeneration occurs which can negatively affect the individual’s spinal health. Degenerated discs are a common cause of lower back pain, but there are individuals with degenerated discs that experience no back pain at all. Consequently, to deduce the true source of the back pain, may recommend a discogram may be recommended.

The Discogram Process

  • A needle filled with a contrast dye is inserted into a disc.
  • The contrast dye fluids are injected into the disc, raising the pressure inside the disc.
  • This newly raised pressure will cause the patient to experience the pain they have felt previously.
  • The pain intensity is noted on a scale from 0-10.

Afterwards, the doctor can reach a conclusion about the cause of the pain—a successful discogram can reveal whether the source of the pain is chemical or mechanical, or which discs are responsible for the back pain. With that knowledge, the doctor may then make recommendations about how to proceed and treat the cause of the back pain. Based off the results, an individual may have to undergo spine reconstruction surgery, or see more conservative treatments.