Closeup of female doctor in labcoat and stethoscope holding digital tablet, reading patient report. Hands holding medical report, discussing Provocative Discography.

Why You Might Need Provocative Discography

When you’re dealing with constant and debilitating back pain, you’ll do anything to find relief as quickly as possible. However, determining the source for your back pain can be difficult if there is a long list of potential causes. It can take time and several doctor visits to discover the reason for your discomfort.

Provocative discography is a diagnostic procedure your physician might suggest to determine the root of the problem. To learn about this process and why you might need it, read more below from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.

What is Provocative Discography? 

Lumbar provocative discography, also called discography or discogram, helps your physician discover the source of your back pain. It identifies the disc or discs in the spine that appear abnormal and are painful. Then, your doctor can determine if surgery or another type of pain management is needed to help relieve your back pain.

How Does a Provocative Discography Work?

This procedure requires you to rate your pain during the procedure, so you will not be sleeping during it. Here are the common steps for a provocative discography.

  • Numbing medicine is applied to decrease the amount of pain felt during this procedure. 
  • A discogram needle enters the body and into the center of the disc. 
  • Then, a contrast dye is injected. 
  • The doctor will ask you to rate your pain and whether it corresponds with your normal area of pain.
  • Next, a CT scan or an X-ray is used to see how the dye spreads. 
  • If the dye spreads outside of the disc and it reproduces your pain, it could be the source of your pain. 

Why You Might Need It 

This procedure gives doctors an inside look at the quality of your spinal discs. The ones with the most wear and tear and reproduce your pain indicate the potential source of your back pain.

However, the efficacy of provocative discography in determining the source of back pain is still controversial within the scientific community. Sometimes, dye spreading past the disc doesn’t match your normal pain.

Because of this discussion, it’s best to consult with your pain physician beforehand to determine if provocative discography is the best procedure to identify your pain. 

If you have any more questions about why you might need provocative discography, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.