LUMBER DISCOGRAPHY FOR BACK PAIN DIAGNOSIS…

A discogram is an investigation which will help your surgeon to see which level of your spine may require surgery. It is usually performed only on patients who the surgeon feels may need or benefit from spinal surgery for maybe a spinal fusion or an IDET treatment.

Discogram or diagnostic discography is an X-ray procedure that can help to determine the source of your lower back or leg pain. This procedure is used to determine if a degenerative or worn out disc is the cause of your back pain. They enable the surgeon to determine the level of the fusion required or to confirm disc degeneration which is unclear on MRI scans. A discogram is hardly ever used to diagnose the cause of back pain.

If you have been suffering from severe back or leg pain, this may be due to a worn-out disc but it is not always very easy to tell which part of your spine is causing you this pain. You may have already had an MRI or CT scan but because these investigations have not determined for definite where your pain is coming from, your doctor has asked us to try to find
out which part of your back is affected.

At the time of injection, there is usually some pain which may be similar to or different to your usual pain, so you will be awake in order for you to experience the sort of pain you are in. I’ve had this done twice and although it is obviously quite uncomfortable it helps the surgeons decide on possibly some very import surgery. You are mildly sedated so you soon forget how bad it was.

It is done as a day case and you lie flat face down and a local anaesthetic (lignocaine) is put on your skin. Under X-ray control, the needle is advanced into the disc space in question and they dye (which is visible on Xray) is then injected during which you will be asked whether this causes the type of pain you are suffering. The procedure is then repeated at another level if necessary.

This procedure can aggravate the pain for a few hours after the procedure or in my case a few days but I just increased my pain killers. The pain disappeared gradually. If the disc is the source of your back, spine, extremity and/or leg pain the injection will temporarily reproduce your symptoms, thus resulting in a positive discogram. If the disc is not the source of your pain the injection will not reproduce your symptoms or cause any discomfort, thus resulting in a negative discogram.

You can find out more information about this procedure on Spine Universe and Spire Healthcare.

A CHAT WITH NICHOLA ADAMS ON BACK PAIN AND POSTURE…

Nichola Adams is one of “Britain’s most experienced and highly qualified consultants in back pain”.

Nichola provides professional support and advice to companies and individuals nationwide on how they can introduce measures and improvements to reduce the risk of back pain in the workplace.

Nichola and I had a lovely chat yesterday about back pain and how important it is that our laptop/computer screens and work stations are at the correct height as this is one of the biggest causes of back and neck pain in the workplace.

 

Nichola is an “Ergonomist” specialist. “Ergonomics” derives from the Greek words ‘ergot’ meaning ‘work’ and ‘nomoi’ meaning ‘natural laws’, and is the science of making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for human use.

Nichola regularly consults in ergonomic seating design, works with rehabilitation companies, and has designed her own range of orthopaedic chairs, so she knows exactly what to recommend for each particular person’s experience.

After experiencing her own back problems with sciatica and a coccyx injury, Nichola had a change in career and took a Masters degree in Health Ergonomics.

We chatted about how much emotions can influence the amount of pain we are in. Simply being aware that you are feeling angry and frustrated about something can influence your pain.

Nichola told me: “I spend a lot of time going into companies around the UK to advise them and help support and educate their employees about the importance of looking after their posture so they can reduce back pain in the long term. 

 

“In my 12 years of experience supporting businesses, unfortunately I find it’s so often the case that people go to see a physiotherapist or an osteopath and then undo all the good work and treatment as soon as they sit back down and slump at their desk again. Simple changes to your workstation set-up can also have a powerful impact.

“It has long been understood that stress plays a big role in the amount of back pain a person might experience. The reverse is also true in that back pain can cause you stress. It’s important to recognise this in order to break the viscous cycle. 

“Simple things such as deep breathing, recognising the impact of stress on your body and taking time out for yourself can all make a big difference.”

Nichola recommends a book all about this called ‘Healing Back Pain.The Mind-Body Connection’ by John Sarno. Dr. Sarno reveals how stress and other psychological facts can cause back pain and how you can be pain free without drugs, exercise or surgery! Something I know my readers would love to hear.

 Dr. Sarno’s program has helped thousands of people find relief from chronic back conditions without drugs, physical therapy, or dangerous surgery. His book is available from Amazon.

 

It was lovely to chat to Nichola who is putting together another post for my readers with infographics and details on the correct posture while working (or playing) on your laptop or computer. It is actually law that companies should look after their employees in their workspace which means your workstation should be the right height etc.

 * Nichola Adams, the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics (inspiredergonomics.com), is one of the UK’s leading back-pain experts, advising companies on how to minimise the risk of back pain in the workplace.

“Pictures: Giles Barnard”

MY TOP TIPS TO AVOID HURTING YOUR BACK OVER CHRISTMAS…

It’s easy at this time of year to forget the correct way to pick something up or the correct way to sit to avoid stirring up your back problem, so I’ve put some tips together to remind you.

If your using public transport don’t forger your badge or stick as you should be offered a seat.

When brushing your teeth rinse with a cup of water, don’t bend, it’s a classic position to trigger low back pain.

If you have to have a bath as you have no shower, either bend your knees to the floor then fill up your bath or get someone else to fill the bath for you. I have pulled my back out twice while filling a bath. When you do have a shower remember to have your toiletries at the correct height so that you are not stretching or bending.

Always, always, always bend the knees when picking up anything or bending down. Use your legs when lifting. Bend at the knees and straighten your legs as you lift the object. This puts less strain on your back.

And for the women, don’t carry your life around in your handbag.

And for the men, don’t carry too much in your computer bag.

Another one for the women, don’t wear high heels all the time. The long term effect can not only effect your back but also your feet.

Standing incorrectly I suppose is an obvious one but they say that if you can avoid leaning while standing (against a wall or similar) and do not stand on one leg as this can create muscle imbalances.

If you stand for long periods of time, raise one foot on a box to lessen the strain on your back. Check your posture and try to maintain the natural curve in your spine. Take frequent breaks if possible.

If you must sit for long periods of time, get up every 30 minutes, walk around and do a few stretches.

If you work at a computer, adjust your chair so your elbows to wrists are parallel to the floor and the screen is at eye level.

If your going to stay with family over Christmas do pay attention to how you get in and out of the car. Sit down facing the door and swing both legs into the car together. Getting out is the reverse. It may look cumbersome but many a bad back is triggered by getting in or out of the car the wrong way. Ensure if you are driving any distance that you take regular breaks and have a walk around, and pop a cushion or towel behind your back.

 

A POEM ON PAIN WRITTEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT…

Isn’t it strange, how nature makes you forget,
That terrible pain you have and continually get.
It comes in waves when you least expect it,
And you think, please stop now and give me a rest for a bit.

With my batteries recharged, I’m ready for the next bout of pain,
Gosh, I forgot how it was driving me insane.
I keep my head high and everyone says I look just fine,
But they have no idea how I really feel at this present moment in time.

I may not have bandages and plaster anywhere on my body,
But believe me, it just keeps on coming back and driving me potty.
Now I’ve tried everything available in the book,
And yes, it helps but only with my foot!!!

I’m writing this poem as I just can’t sleep,
It’s that awful pain again from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.
I’m sure one day someone will find a cure,
But until then I shall just have to suffer some more.

So, while your sleeping like a baby in bed,
Think of me some time while I try again to clear my head!
I’m afraid that’s all I can think of, for the time being anyway,