Chronic pain and its cause is one of the most difficult diagnostic problems plaguing physicians today. Frequently patient’s tests do not correlate with their symptoms. Individuals with radicular symptomatology may have more than one etiology for their problem. The combined use of anatomic and physiologic testing has long been common in the medical community. However until now the physiologic test of choice has been electromyography (EMG) which studies the motor function of nerve and not its sensory component.
Thermography is a physiologic test (rather than an anatomic one) that measures the autonomic nervous system. While other physiologic tests exist they do not monitor the pathways in the same fashion as thermography. It is my opinion that thermography is the BEST diagnostic tool for the evaluation of individuals suspected of having Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS). In addition to the discomfort inherent in EMG’s the inability of the study to provide adequate information in many cases leads to an incomplete diagnosis. Utilizing non-invasive (and therefore not painful) thermal imaging even more information is available to assist us in the treatment of these individuals. Additionally thermal imaging can be used to monitor the effectiveness of various interventional pain management techniques by using a safe, highly reproducible, sensitive, and accurate diagnostic tool This includes the use of thermal imaging in the positioning of spinal cord stimulators which has increased the accuracy of lead placement. Thermography can detect alterations in the heat patterns of limbs to suggest that there are damaged leads thereby differentiating between an increased pain state and an equipment malfunction. Localization of trigger points by thermographic means has been shown to increase the effectiveness of injections into these areas.
A study currently in progress suggests that Thermography can predict the spread of RSD before it actually occurs, thereby allowing for the earliest possible intervention.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can be demonstrated in real time or by static images using our thermographic apparatus.
Click here to read the article by Dr. Getson titled “The Use of Thermography in the Diagnosis of CRPS: A Physician’s Opinion”.