Lumbar Discography Specialist

The Rehab Doctors

Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation & Board Certified in Sports Medicine located in Rapid City, SD

Damaged discs in the lumbar spine are one of the top causes of chronic lower back pain. When the board-certified team at The Rehab Doctors in Rapid City, South Dakota, needs to evaluate the discs and verify the exact disc that’s causing your pain, they perform a lumbar discography. If you have ongoing lower back pain despite conventional medical care, The Rehab Doctors offers many pain-relieving therapies. To learn more about your treatment options, call the office or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.

Lumbar Discography Q & A

What is a lumbar discography?

A provocative lumbar discography, also called a lumbar discogram, is an imaging test that evaluates and diagnoses problems in the spinal discs in your lower back.

A discography combines X-rays with a special dye that serves two purposes:

Highlights the disc

Injecting a contrast dye makes the disc visible on the X-ray, allowing The Rehab Doctors’ team to diagnose the problem.

Verifies the source of your pain

The Rehab Doctors’ providers use real-time X-ray imaging, called fluoroscopy, to guide a needle into the targeted disc. Then they inject the contrast dye. 

The dye increases the pressure in the disc, which should trigger the pain you normally experience in your lower back. If the injected dye causes pain, it verifies that the disc is the source of your pain. 

The Rehab Doctors’ team specializes in relieving pain. In this case, however, reproducing your pain is the only way to be sure you get the best treatment and that it targets the right disc.

When might I need lumbar discography?

The Rehab Doctors’ team performs discography to diagnose low back pain caused by disc conditions such as:

Herniated lumbar disc

The discs between each vertebra have a strong, fibrous, outer covering that surrounds a gel-like center. Age, injuries, and daily wear and tear take a toll on the outer cover, creating spots that are weak and thin. 

The inner gel bulges out through the weak spot, potentially pinching nerves. When the cover ruptures, the gel spills into the spinal canal, causing nerve inflammation and pain.

Degenerative disc disease

As you get older, the discs lose water and shrink or flatten. As a result, they can’t continue to support your spine or absorb shock, leading to spinal instability, compressed nerves, and pain.

What should I expect during a lumbar discography?

You should not eat any solid foods after midnight on the night before your discography. It’s also important to arrange for transportation to and from the hospital.

Your provider at The Rehab Doctors also talks with you about the medications you take. You may need to stop taking certain medicines prior to your discography.

You may receive a sedative to help you relax; otherwise, you stay awake throughout the procedure. Your provider places you on your stomach or side, numbs the area with a local anesthetic, injects the dye, and then takes X-rays.

The procedure takes 30-40 minutes, and then the team monitors you for about a half-hour before sending you home.

If you have ongoing low back pain, you receive compassionate care from the experts at The Rehab Doctors. Call the office or book an appointment online.