Has your doctor mentioned a Discogram? If not, do your research on the test and the specialists that perform them. Discogram is an invasive diagnostic test that uses x-rays to examine the intervertebral discs of your spine. A special dye is injected into the injured disc or series of discs. The dye makes the disc visible on a fluoroscope monitor and x-ray film. Discograms are used to locate precisely which discs are damaged and are causing back pain. I was surprised to discover that many, many people have bulging discs but do not experience any pain. I believe surgery should be a last option, and I was at that point in 2009. I had tried every treatment for my lower body pain—physical therapy, steroid injections, Botox, prescriptions, acupuncture, etc. I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which I did have, but only as a result of four years of chronic pain. So when a specialist suggested steroids as a treatment option, or the one test I had not done yet, a Discogram, I lost all faith in the doctor and left his office. Steroids are not a long-term option. Of course steroids provide relief, but it can be at quite a cost from harmful side-effects. It was clear that I had two choices—surgery or pain management, so I researched the neurosurgeons in my area and made an appointment to have the Discogram done.

It’s a little complicated to explain, so if you want more details, MAYO CLINIC has an excellent article. For me, it was the answer. Only one of my two bulging discs was a problem. Once I had the surgery, the source of pain was removed and my fibromyalgia symptoms decreased about eighty-five percent! I still have some tightness in my legs, but my quality of life is astronomically better for which I’m extremely grateful. I was lucky—I had a strong support system and good health insurance at the time. But what really saved me was  my research about my diagnosis. One symptom stood out, didn’t fit the fibromyalgia diagnosis, and that led me to the Discogram. If you don’t have the strength to be your own advocate, and believe me, it takes strength to get answers, please don’t give up. Family, friends, your church, a neighbor, a classmate—don’t be too proud to ask for help. Your quality of life may depend on it. If you want to know more about this test, my experience with fibromyalgia or anything else, feel free to contact me.

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