The Power of the Patient



The Power of the Patient
October 13, 2014

An invention in modern medicine that has gained praise and momentum has, with great certainty, been the endoscopic (tiny) instruments now used in many areas of procedural medicine. Our team at ASC utilizes this technology everyday we are in the operating room. A highly successful solution to uncover and gain control over chronic pain in the spine involves is a fantastic combination of a small endoscopic probe and verbal communication with the patient. The method is usually referred to as spinal probe. More specifically, the tiny holes that our nerves (our pain triggers) run through in the spine called the foraminal areas is where the focus is during this procedure. Suspected areas of pain receive gentle pressure with the endoscopic probe from the surgeon and the patient simply describes to us their sensation or when their symptoms are being reproduced. We considered this collaborative effort very effective as a diagnostic procedure for this type of back pain. It allows us to spotlight the area and focus on the best treatment plan.

This very minimal technique that utilizes the gift of technology and the personal feedback of the patient to find a source of back pain can usually be performed in under 30 minutes. The essential part of this diagnostic technique is that the patient remains awake and will interact with the doctor as the tool traces the area that the patient has been experiencing their symptoms.The back is numb with anesthesia but the patient will stay fully engage during the 10-15 minutes of the "interview" part of the procedure. Once unveiled through the patient-doctor verbal interaction, that area of pain can now be reported and treated much more effectively.

The advantage this study has over standard x-rays, CTs and MRIs is that it places a very accurate marker on tiny and very exact areas of nerve induced pain whereas other forms of radiology illuminate the problem but sometimes only confirms a generalized area of pain generation. This sensitive form of diagnostic work with the spinal probe is able to detect pain triggers at a highly successful rate well into the 90th percentile.  For patients with back pain caused by things such as degenerative diseases of the spine or disc herniation, identifying these pain triggers means relief is on the way.