Herniated discs may cause pain when they put pressure on the spinal nerves, but in some cases the discs themselves become painful. Nerve fibers within degenerated discs may grow and spread, and can cause a pain that tends to stay along the spine.
Discography is a diagnostic test that involves the placement of needles into degenerated discs, then the injection of small amounts of x-ray contrast to see if they cause your normal pain. If the injection causes your typical pain, then that is considered a positive test and that information can be used to guide future treatments or possibly surgery. This procedure is most commonly done in the low-back, but can also be done in the neck.
Discography typically takes 30 to 40 minutes, but may be less depending on how many levels of your spine are to be tested.
You will likely feel tightness in the area that was injected – discography is a test and is not designed to relieve pain.
One benefit of discography is that it can provide a diagnosis for your pain. Your physician will also discuss options for treatment – next-steps may include radiofrequency ablations to the disc itself or surgery.
Treatment for herniated discs and degenerative disc disease.