Pain signals are generated from nerve roots and travel neural pathways through our body. When nerve roots are compressed, they generate pain signals that can be felt in different areas throughout the body.
Patients with lumbar disc problems, for example, often report pain radiating into one or both legs. This is because the nerve roots that travel to our legs exit our spine in the lumbar chain. More commonly, however, chronic back pain patients present with several painful areas resulting from pathology at multiple levels. Further, many patients will have combinations of facet joint and disc problems.
If a patient has a prior back surgery, there is likely to be scar tissue as well. Back pain is very complex and difficult to treat comprehensively and effectively – a statement that will not surprise any chronic back pain sufferer who has tried multiple treatments with limited or no success.
For this reason, locating the source of a patient’s pain is often a key step in the North American Spine treatment process. The pain mapping procedure helps our physicians to more accurately pinpoint the true cause of the pain you are experiencing, increasing the chance of significant pain relief.
To isolate the pain cause, the pain mapping procedure may include creating the pain, and temporarily treating the pain, in a specific location. The pain mapping approach will be determined by the physician, based on your medical history, MRI and symptoms.
To better identify the cause, the physician may use injected dye and imaging to “see” what is happening when the pain is evoked. The physician may also administer a Selective Nerve Root Block (SNRB) to confirm that the pain will go away if that target area is treated.
Neurostimulation may also be applied to selected locations. While under twilight sedation, the patient is comfortable yet aware enough to respond and interact with the physician to precisely diagnose the origin of pain.
The results of the pain mapping diagnostics determine the course of treatment.
This approach fits with North American Spine’s philosophy: using conservative, unique, innovative, and superior techniques to better treat your pain in a minimally invasive manner.