The first stage of any consultation is for your consultant to take a medical history and have a detailed discussion about your condition and symptoms, typically lasting around 30 minutes. They will want to know:
- What are your symptoms?
How long have you had these symptoms?
- Can you describe the pain?
- Is it a stabbing pain or does it spread out?
Are your symptoms constant or intermittent?
A physical examination will then be conducted carefully and thoroughly. This can be to assess the health of your spine and check for any nerve root dysfunction, or signs of pain coming from somewhere else.
For example, you may present with back pain, but upon investigation it may be revealed that the source of pain is in your sacroiliac joint (which attach the base of the spine to the pelvis), and treatment can be tailored accordingly.
An MRI is normally required to confirm a diagnosis, and this can be done at our on-site imaging unit. These scans help to highlight inflammation as well as issues like disc bulges and vertebrae problems.
With an accurate diagnosis confirmed, your Consultant can present you with all your available treatment options, depending on your specific condition and the expected outcomes.
Treatment for many conditions can be administered within this initial consultation, such as steroid injections or local anaesthetics. These injections may be into the source of pain (such as directly into the sacroiliac joint) or around the nerve root (known as a foraminal epidural injection, with a 0.7mm in diameter needle, far removed from the kind normally associated with epidurals).
You can also opt to have these injections performed under x-ray guidance for added accuracy, available as a day case procedure. In 70% of cases, these injections can make your condition permanently better, with 90% of patients reporting improvements for conditions such as sacroiliac joint pain. This means a vast majority of patients need no further treatment, save for some repeat injections if appropriate.
If injections and other measures such as physiotherapy have been ineffective, surgery is sometimes necessary to bring you relief.
Our Woodlands spinal team are experts in minimal-access surgery, ensuring an efficient process and faster recovery times, getting you back to good health with reduced symptoms as soon as possible.