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Has anyone had a Lumbar Discogram ???

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hiya! I'm due to have this procedure this Wednesday (eeek!) and am feeling a bit apprehensive about it. If anyone has had this before, could you explain if it's painful or not? I've had 7 facet joint injections over the past 4 years and presume it feels similar, am I right?

I cannot believe I got an appointment so quickly after my initial consultation only last month. Because I work in a school and we're off on half term this week, it couldn't have been more perfectly timed - however, I'm starting to worry a bit (as a man I met on Saturday has had a discogram before and said he was 'out of sorts' for quite a few days).

For the first time, I attended a 'spinal support group' at Nuffield Hospital in York on Saturday and, if any of you are within travelling distance, it's extremely worthwhile. I met many people who have had spinal fusions and the difference the surgery has made to their lives is inspiring! However, there was nobody there for whom the surgery was unsuccessful, but I suppose that's to be expected in a way. There were about 50-60 people there and I would say over half hadn't been before and were all contemplating surgery to one degree or another - so I suppose the event could be seen as good publicity for the surgeon. I don't know.

Nonetheless, I came away from the 2 hour session having many of my questions answered (apart from the negative comment made about discograms, hence my question above), and on the whole, I feel VERY positive about the future now, which is a good thing. If my discogram confirms that a fusion would benefit me long term, and if it's offered to me as an option, then I am 100 per cent going for it! I don't want to be restricted in the things I can do (like I am now, big time!), and therefore have limited personal/social choices in the future as a result. Or to feel in ten years time that I should have gone for it, but perhaps it could be too late by then. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. If you're curious at all, I would thoroughly recommend the "Kspine" website. It's full of tons of information on different procedures and advice etc.

I hope someone can allay my fears about having the discogram??? I wanna know everything about it, warts and all!!!

Bye for now

2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!


  • I have not had one but many have had it here. Obviously it is not a pleasant experience given the main purpose of the exam is to reproduce the pain so they can be definite of where within the lumbar region it is coming. It is usually given as a prelude to surgery. You can be given a sedative before the exam. Instead of thinking about the procedure itself, think about more of the benefits associated with it. There will be no more further question of why you are in pain.

    Next I understand that surgery can be successful for many but have you tried all conservative treatments. Most would go for atleast a year or more of conservative treatment before going into surgery and fusion. That is always the last step when all else failed.

  • Be sure to plan on clearing your schedule for a day or two afterward. People who are able to take it easy afterward tend to do better with any lingering effects from the procedure.

    You can type "discogram" into the search box above and you can see various threads from the recent past that discuss just what you are asking. Many people on the board have had a discogram....it is probably given more than it should be.

  • SueD

    I had a discogram like Gwennie said their are other threads on the subject like under injections. Its not a pleasent test. Easy way to look at it is this, if your disk is healthy, its not that painful, if your disk is not healthy, it can be painful, because their trying to make it hurt to see if the disk is bad. Mine wasn't that bad except the doctor hit a nerve going in which my leg shot up and at the time my disk was healthy. But everybody is different. Good Luck.
  • Thanks alot for your all your comments so far. It would seem that if it hurts alot, then that is a good thing because then the consultant will know what is causing the pain. I will be sedated, so I'm hoping it won't be too bad.

    By the way, I have tried many different options to reduce low back pain over the last 5 years (including 7 facet joint injections, 2 epidurals, radio frequency ablations, 6 weeks of pain management, TENS machine, chiropractice, physiotherapy, electric heating pad, heat patches, frozen peas! and am currently on morphine patches with extra solution at night to help me sleep AND I've even lost 5 and a half stones! Unfortunately all to no avail. I think the fact that I work in a primary school doesn't help either because the only chairs available are for very small children and the desk sizes are very low - which makes my back pain even worse when I'm trying to bend over to use the paper cutter etc. etc.) - between me, my local GP (whose been great) and many different consultants, I believe we have tried everything short of surgery so far. The discogram has been offered by a consultant whose second opinion I sought at the end of last year, so it's all good and I feel, at last, that I'm finally reaching a final conclusion, one way or another.

    I feel a little happier about having the discogram now because, as you say, it will help to identify what is going on precisely. At least if it doesn't cause pain then they can discount the disc as a pain source once and for all.

    Thanks for all your help.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • Hi Sue

    Please let us know how it goes. I am waiting to schedule mine and am a little nervous.

    In my case, the doctor needs to figure out which of two possible discs is causing the majority of my pain. I kind of look forward to it myself so that I can figure out exactly which screwed up disc is causing the most pain.

    Good luck!

  • Sue,

    I've had a discogram and I fell into the painful category. I was heavily sedated while they set up the needles in my discs and then brought out of it for the test and then given many of good pain meds as soon as the test was over.

    The pain I felt was very very bad, but again it was only for a few seconds and then the IV meds kicked in and I was fine for the rest of the day. It did take me a good few days for the bad pain to subside and for some reason I had increased pain for weeks after.

    Like Eric said if your discs are not causing you pain it will not be bad at all (with two of my discs I only felt pressure), but if they are you will feel it and it can be bad. The information they get from this procedure will allow the surgeon to make the right decision on surgery for you.

    Best of luck and let us know how everything goes.......Mitch
  • Woops! I posted a reply then saw your other post stating that you had your discogram already so I deleted it. I hope the discogram wasn't too painful for you. I had 2 discos in the last 12 months and they are not fun at all.
  • ShawbriSShawbri Posts: 2
    edited 07/19/2014 - 1:17 AM
    Before I had my discogram, I made the mistake of reading several posts by others who have had discograms. I was curious about what to expect. Every post I read described the procedure as extremely painful and almost like torture. Needless to say, I was very nervous about having the test done, and almost cancelled it. But I knew it was necessary if my Dr was going to perform surgery on my back. My Pain Dr put my mind at ease by telling me it would be uncomfortable but not unbearable. He was right. I did feel a sharp pain in two of my discs that shot all the way down my leg. It hurt and I said so, but it only lasted a few seconds. He gave me something in my IV to help me relax and then gave me something else for pain. The entire procedure didn't seem to last too long. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes. Then they took me to radiology to have a CT scan. I decided to post this on the same sites I had read before I had the test done so that if someone was looking for a more positive experience, it would be there for them. Maybe the reason I didn't have a bad experience is because I had a really good and experienced Dr. Idk. But for me, it was not terrible and I'm glad I had it done in order to pinpoint the area that is causing my pain.
  • Some specialists insist that they need to be done without any meds because they're attempting to reproduce the pain symptoms. I've had them both ways & it made a HUGE difference for me. Like all 'procedures' I think the experience & technique of the person performing has a big effect on the pain during & after. Fortunately the first time it was with 'relaxing' & pain killing meds. I would never agreed to doing it again if it had been the other way around! For me, in my experience, I don't think it changes the results by having the meds but I know some surgeons would disagree.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Hope3HHope3 Posts: 751
    edited 07/19/2014 - 5:05 PM
    I can honestly say it was one of my worst memories through the different
    tests. The spine doctor I had, told me there was nothing to it and I am
    not a person to say bad words but I used a very harsh one that day.
    It hit and shot down my leg two times, the pain was unreal but I can
    see the reason they do it. Funny later he said I was not a candidate for
    surgery but in the future, then why do the test. I got a copy of my charts
    later on and he wrote " I had a charley horse " . Hum I think I know
    the difference between a Charlie horse and that pain.
    But I have friends who have had them and said it was not too bad,
    so we are all so different. I have read some information where some
    specialists say it is a good test and others say no.
    So for anyone facing it I wish you the very best and I would do it again
    if it helped in deciding what direction to go.
    Take care
  • So I have to agree with everyone else who has said they are painful. I completely agree. I had the very agonizing situation that the steroid injected after the discogram actually gave me the first pain relief I'd had in 7 years (besides narcotics). So I went back for 3 additional amended-discogram procedures: not done as a pain test but as a therapeutic procedure. Same exact mechanics but injecting steroid instead of fluid. These injections helped me take back part of my life for nearly a year. Yes, each of them were painful and I never had any sedation (call me crazy), but it really is MIND OVER MATTER. I think anyone who is determined to find the cause of their pain can get through this procedure just fine.

    I did. 4 times.
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Backpain MomBBackpain Mom Posts: 7
    edited 07/20/2014 - 2:35 AM
    They had me very heavily sedated and gave me pain meds afterwards to ensure I wasn't in pain when I woke up. I was a little sore for a few days, but didn't feel it was any different than the facet injections or transforaminal ESIs that I've had done.

    Be honest with your doctor when they come in to see you before they take you back for procedure. Let him/her know that you're feeling very anxious about feeling the pain during the procedure. Chances are, they'll make sure you're comfortable because they don't want you squirming while they're doing the procedure. Stress will only make your anxiety worse so try not to fret. Good luck!

    P.S. I also received antibiotics via IV prophylactically. They did this to ensure I didn't get an infection since they were going through so many "layers" and into my disc. I didn't have any side effects with antibiotic, nor did I get an infection.
    Herniated L4/L5, pinched L5 nerve, degenerative disc disease, ruptured L4/L5 with scoliosis
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