By: Dr. Michael Rimlawi, Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained spine surgeon and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas
Some types of pain are easy to diagnose: You stub your toe or you get a paper cut on your fingertip, and you know exactly what’s causing the pain and how to treat it. But sometimes the source of pain is less obvious, especially if an injury causes what’s known as referred pain – pain that’s felt in an area away from the injury site. Referred pain typically is associated with nerve impingements like slipped or herniated discs in the neck or back. These injuries can press on nerves as they exit the spine, causing pain anywhere along the nerve pathway and making it more difficult to determine the exact source of pain. For instance, chronic arm pain may actually emanate from an injury in the neck; leg pain might be caused by a disc herniation or nerve impingement in the lower back.
Other times, referred pain symptoms can be associated with trigger points, local areas of tenderness that often form in the upper back, neck or shoulders. These areas of “knotted” muscle fibers can cause chronic headaches along with persistent pain in the arms, back or neck.
Pain Mapping: The Key to Accurate Diagnosis
Obviously, treating pain effectively depends on knowing the source of the pain. But with referred pain, identifying the source can be problematic, even with the use of diagnostic imaging like X-rays or CT scans. The good news: Pain mapping can be extremely effective in pinpointing discrete causes of pain that otherwise may be missed during a traditional diagnosis.
The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s pain mapping uses a series of special techniques to “zero in” on the sources of pain so treatment can be optimized for the patient’s specific needs. During the mapping process, the doctor injects pain-relieving medications at different locations depending on the patient’s symptoms and their medical history. Based on the effects of each injection – specifically, whether or not the injection provides a temporary relief of pain – the doctor will be able to identify the original source of painful symptoms so a treatment plan can be “mapped out.” Before the procedure, the injection sites are numbed with local anesthetics and light sedation is administered to ensure the patient remains relaxed and comfortable.
Pain Mapping for Optimal Pain Management
Because it’s a highly specialized technique, pain mapping should only be performed by a trained pain specialist. At the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, we rely on the most advanced pain mapping techniques using state-of-the-art tools for accurate diagnoses of most types of chronic pain, including pain emanating from the spinal nerves. If you have chronic pain, pain mapping can provide critical insight into the underlying cause so you can enjoy more targeted therapy and faster, more meaningful relief of your symptoms.
To learn more about pain mapping or to have your chronic pain issues evaluated, visit https://www.mispinerelief.com/ or call the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at 855-466-6741 and schedule a consultation today.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon, Board Certified, Fellowship-Trained
Spine Surgeon Dr. Michael Rimlawi is director and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s team. Dr. Rimlawi is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon who completed unique training in both orthopedic-spine and neurosurgery-spine at the renowned University of California San Diego. Dr. Michael Rimlawi treats all aspects of spinal disease including degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. More than just a back doctor, he is a leader in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery and a pioneer in endoscopic laser spine surgery.