As a pain management specialist, one of the most common types of pain that Dr. Daniel Batlan treats is neck and low back pain. The human spine is designed to allow it to protect the body’s central nervous system while supporting the body’s core during weight-bearing activity. Running from the cervical vertebra down to the sacrum, the spinal column consists of 24 bony structures called vertebrae. The spinal cord runs through the center of the spinal column, while cushioned discs rest between each vertebrae to keep the bones from rubbing together, as well as to protect nerves from impingement.
Many factors may lead to degeneration or tearing of these spinal discs, including injuries, genetic factors, hard work, and age. As the discs degenerate or tear, water and other fluids may leak from them, reducing the cushioning and natural protection. Likewise, the fluid that leaks from the disc’s nucleus may irritate nerve tissue. All of these factors may cause significant pain along the spinal column and throughout the back.
When Dr. Batlan suspects intervertebral disc damage, he may recommend that his patient undergo an advanced procedure entitled discography, so he can determine whether specific discs are damaged and causing pain. During a discogram, sterile X-ray contrast dye is injected into a disc using a thin needle while the patient is under sedation. X-rays will show whether the contrast remains in the center of the disc, indicating a healthy disc, or if it spreads, indicating a compromised one. The quality of the information that is created with discography is often far superior than the information that is conveyed from other imaging procedures such as plain Xrays or MRI scans. Discography may enable Dr. Batlan to pinpoint the exact location of tear(s) in the spinal disc(s).
The procedure takes approximately an hour and can be performed on an outpatient basis. The doctor may ask you to assess pain levels during the procedure.v