Diagnostic tests for finding the causes of neck and back pain
For patients dealing with neck or back pain, the first step in finding relief should be to obtain a clear diagnosis of the underlying cause. This often begins with a visit to your primary care doctor, who will likely review your medical history and perform a comprehensive physical examination. Once this process is complete, your physician can then order any additional tests, such as imaging scans or diagnostic injections, which he or she might need to make a final diagnosis.
Upon diagnosis of a spine condition — such as a herniated disc or spinal arthritis — as the source of symptoms, treatment will typically begin conservatively with methods like medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes. However, if pain persists and more involved treatment like surgery is recommended, additional testing may be ordered for a more precise diagnosis.
Diagnostic injection tests for back pain
Several types of injections may also be used during the diagnostic process, especially to determine if a patient is a candidate for spine surgery. Diagnostic injections can give a physician a better idea of the precise area requiring surgical treatment and if it can offer relief. Specific types of injections include:
- Selective nerve root blocks. Many nerves enter and exit the spinal canal. If a nerve is compressed by a herniated disc, bone spur or other similar condition, it can cause significant pain. A small amount of numbing medication can be injected into a nerve that is suspected to be under pressure. If the result is immediate pain relief, your physician can pinpoint the specific part of your spine that requires treatment.
- Facet nerve blocks. Facet joints allow the spine to bend and twist. A small amount of numbing medication can be injected into one or more of these joints to determine if the pain is related to joint damage or inflammation.
- Medial block injections. The medial nerves are small nerves that branch out from the facet joints and carry pain signals to the brain. A small amount of anesthetic medication can be injected directly into one or more of these joints to determine if they are causing back pain.
Diagnostic testing at Laser Spine Institute
Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures.^ After a patient is determined to be a potential candidate for one of our procedures through an over-the-phone MRI review or an in-person consultation, he or she will receive a thorough evaluation upon coming to one of our state-of-the-art outpatient facilities for surgery. This may include diagnostic testing such as the taking of additional imagery or the administration of diagnostic injections.
An option we offer for potential candidates who are considering the benefits of our procedures is our Relief Confirmation Test. Although surgical outcomes can never be completely guaranteed, this test is a selective nerve root block that can temporarily let patients know the potential relief that minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute can provide. To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today.
We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to help you find out if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.