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Laporoscopic pain mapping is a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure used to determine the source of pain. Patients are active participants in the process to help hone in on the cause of discomfort.
The lower back, neck, and spine are unique in that they have multiple pain generators (nerve, disc, joint, muscle). Pain mapping involves injecting various areas with numbing medicine (Lidocaine or Marcaine) or steroids to determine which area(s) is generating the pain. The patient describes how much pain is reduced when each area is numbed. The amount of pain reduction when a certain area is numbed correlates with the amount of responsibility that area holds for the pain.
Laporoscopic pain mapping is used in conjunction with MRIs, CTs and nerve conduction studies to isolate the cause of the pain to one or more areas. By isolating the cause, the doctor becomes more equipped to limit the pain and fix the problem in a long-term and minimally invasive manner. The doctor can also better predict the results of different treatment methods.
Pain mapping can help keep patients out of pain clinics and away from narcotics, which is good because many patients who rely on narcotics to manage their pain must gradually increase their intake of medication in order to continue to keep the pain under control.
The amount of injections needed varies based on how complicated the patient’s problem is. At the end of treatment, either the steroids will have eliminated the pain, the numbing medications will have reduced the pain enough for the patient to cope until the problem heals naturally, or the doctor will know what surgery is most appropriate if surgery is needed.
The ideal patient for pain mapping is someone with chronic neck, low-back, or mid-back pain who has been to pain clinics before. Often the person has already tried physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids, with little or no relief.