diagnostic test

Pain Management Content Related to diagnostic test.

Sacroiliac Joint Arthropathy

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Pain that is localized to the low back, hips and buttocks is commonly caused by sacroiliac (SI) joint pain.   SI joint pain commonly radiates to the outside of the thigh, but rarely past the knee.  Stress applied to the joint on physician exam can suggest this as the source of pain, but is very non-specific.  A targeted injection with local anesthetic under fluoroscopic (X-Ray) guidance is really the only way to diagnose SI joint pain.  If the pain is relieved completely after injection, a definitive diagnosis can be made.  The addition of a concentrated low dose of steroid to this injection can provide long-term pain relief.  Other treatment of SI joint Arthropathy involves NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs), local anesthetic patches (5% Lidocaine, but is off-label), and most importantly physical therapy.  Physical therapy involves gait training (how you walk) and muscle strengthening.  The results of Aquatherapy have been promising.  Radiofrequency treatment of the nerves that supply the SI Joint has also shown some promise as a long-term tratment.

Rare causes of SI joint pain include trauma, infection and tumor involvement.

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Medial Branch Nerve Blocks

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Medial branch nerve blocks are a diagnostic test for facet joint arthropathy.  This test can be done in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines.  I perform this procedure under intermittent X-ray guidance to localize the exact area of the nerve.  Each facet joint has two nerves that supply it.  By performing a local anesthetic block, facet arthropathy can be diagnosed or excluded.  After the injection, facet-loading maneuvers are performed.  In the low back, I have the patient bend back at the waist and to the affected side.  In the neck, this is done by the patient laterally flexing the neck (touching the ear to the shoulder).  If the pain is absent after the block, a diagnosis can be made.  This normally will only result in short-term relief.  However, with this information, radiofrequency ablation of these nerves can now be performed.  That will result in long-term relief.

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