Spine Diagnostics

Pain Specialists of Austin

In addition to a thorough physical examination and review of any previous imaging studies performed, Pain Specialists of Austin uses a variety of techniques to diagnose your spine or nerve pain and determine the location of your pain.

Every diagnostic procedure that requires an injection is performed with fluoroscopy guidance to ensure that our doctors capture the most exact picture possible of the problem area. Fluoroscopy is especially helpful in diagnosing conditions that result from muscle, nerve, and soft tissue damage.

With an accurate diagnosis, our pain management doctors can recommend the most effective treatments to get your pain under control. Many diagnostic procedures are also therapeutic, meaning they can be used to simultaneously diagnose AND treat pain.

Electromyography

Muscles rely on messages from the nerves to perform movements. When the muscles don’t work properly, a diagnostic test called electromyography, or EMG for short, measures the nerve impulses in muscles during contraction. 

Our pain doctors use EMG to diagnose neuromuscular disease, neurological disorders, muscle disease, and nerve abnormalities associated with pain or numbness.

Electromyography (EMG) is performed using a computer, electrical impulses, and a fine wire placed into muscles to find the reason for pain, numbness, or weakness. Once an accurate diagnosis is made, the most effective treatment can be started.

Facet Blocks

A facet block is an injection to determine if a particular facet joint is the cause of pain. Facet joints connect the vertebrae to form the spine and allow back motion. 

Facet pain and inflammation can be caused by spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, sciatica, arthritis, and a herniated disc. 

If your doctor determines that one or more facet joints are the cause of your pain, facet joint injections can help relieve pain in your neck, low back, and legs.

Nerve Blocks

A nerve block is an injection used to determine if nerves are a cause of pain. They can be administered at any number of places along the spine to test various nerves.

During a nerve block, your doctor places medication directly around a suspected nerve in your spine to help determine if it is the source of pain. If the nerve block relieves the pain, then your doctor can proceed with treatment, which may include additional pain management injections, interventional procedures, or minimally invasive procedures.

Examples of nerve blocks targeting specific nerves include:

  • Occipital nerve block to determine if there is injury to the occipital nerve, which sends signals to the head, face, and neck
  • Stellate ganglion block to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nerve that sends signals to the head, neck, chest, or arms
  • Lumbar sympathetic block to determine if there is damage to the sympathetic nerve that sends signals to the legs or feet

Discogram

A discogram is a diagnostic test in which contrast dye is injected into a disc in the patient’s spine. Discograms help pinpoint which disc is causing back or leg pain. It is often done as a pre-surgical evaluation to consider what further treatment is needed. 

After a discogram is performed, a CT scan will be scheduled to show where and how the disc is damaged. 

If you’re tired of living with pain and ready to understand what is causing your pain so you can proceed with an effective treatment plan, call us at (512) 485-7200 or request an appointment online. With 10 clinic locations throughout the Austin, Texas metro area, Pain Specialists of Austin is nearby.