The relative contributions of the disc and zygapophyseal joint in chronic low back pain

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Apr 1;19(7):801-6. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199404000-00013.


Study design: A prospective cross-sectional analytic approach was taken.

Objectives: This study sought to determine the relative contribution of the disc and the zygapophyseal joint as a pain source in patients with chronic low back pain.

Summary of background data: Previous studies have employed either zygapophyseal joint blocks or discography, but in no studies have both procedures been performed.

Methods: Ninety-two consecutive patients with chronic low back pain were studied using both discography and blocks of the zygapophyseal joints.

Results: Thirty-six patients (39%) had at least one positive discogram as defined by exact pain reproduction, an abnormal image, and a negative control. Eight patients responded to both a screening zygapophyseal joint block using lignocaine and a confirmatory block using bupivacaine. Only three patients had both a positive discogram and a symptomatic zygapophyseal joint.

Conclusions: In patients with chronic low back pain, the combination of discogenic pain and zygapophyseal joint pain is uncommon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bupivacaine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis
  • Lidocaine
  • Low Back Pain / etiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Diseases / complications
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnosis


  • Lidocaine
  • Bupivacaine