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Nerve Pain question

tonya42ttonya42 Posts: 810
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Since I've had ACDF it now seems I have a pinched nerve somewhere between my neck and down into my thumb. That's where it starts. Then it crawls across my hand until my wrist is actually painful. I can simply bend my head forward and make my thumb start zinging all the way up my arm. I had a nerve study done years ago on my ulnar nerve but try as I might I cannot for the life of me remember what they did. Can somebody please remind me what the procedure is like for a nerve study? I would really appreciate knowing before Friday what I'm in for. If anyone could enlighten me I'd be eternally grateful.


  • If it was like the one I had done they use very fine needles and check out the nerve conductivity. They put a small needle that stays in place and move the other up and down where the nerve travels in your arm. It produces a very slight electrical charge to make sure your nerve is not damaged. It is not painful at all. Hope all goes well. Jay.
  • I appreciate that. I am couldn't remember a needle being involved the last time so I have been searching all day. He's added an EMG. Now I'm wondering what my options are after the test. I've looked and it talks about cervical traction, ESI, injections in the hardware to see if it is causing the problem. Oh how I hope it's not the latter. I was recovering so well until this happened. I know lots of people on here who have had ESI injections in the back but the neck? Anybody have any experience with this one? Although I look forward to any relief this sounds like the treatment I'd most like to avoid. Anyone who's had this happen after ACDF I would love to know what I'm up against. I can only guess tonight that it's coming from C6 and I am dreading the results of this test.
  • I have had many ESI injections in my neck. I did this before my surgery. They seemed to work for a little while but the pain would come back. I have heard that some in people it last longer than others. When I had it done they gave me an all over numbing medication and something to help me relax. When they did that it was a piece of cake.
    It does require an I.V. to do but it was worth it to me.
    I hope I was not too late with this info because you say that the doc appt. was today. I hope everything turned out good for you. Thanks, Jay.
  • I've actually only had the nerve conduction study and EMG today. So my doctor hasn't given me any game plan. I am just exploring my options and trying to figure out what he might suggest next. If it's PT I'm totally game. But if he suggests and ESI I want to be prepared with what that would be like. Although I'm an impatient patient if an ESI is not as painful as I imagined then I would like to at least know that is a possible option. So thank you for the information. But I will not sugar coat it. My shoulder is so sore tonight I'm just going to have to take it easy until the swelling goes down. The needle straight into my muscle which is still in a constant spasm was painful to say the least. But that part is now over and I want this fixed once and for all. Thank you for the info. It just sounded dreadful so I'm glad that you shared your experience.
  • I hope everything works out for you. I tried everything for years before having surgery. I had a four level fusion c3 thru c7 back in Nov. Life is getting better for me every day. I can only wish the same for you.
    Take care, Jay.
  • I'm sorry the tests were so painful and hope your shoulder relaxes by tomorrow. Hope you get some restful sleep tonight. My EMG and nerve conduction study was also painful, but I don't think it lasted more than a day or so.

    Take care,

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859

    Trust me, ESIs are not painful. When its done correctly, you should not experience any discomfort during the procedure.
    You may experience some sorness (that can range) after the injection. But that negative side should disappear quickly and the positive effects should take over. But , honestly, that does not always happen.

    Im the Spinal Injection forum section, I have posted some details on the actual procedure.. Also try using my FAQ which will provide information and shortcuts. One being all the information that Spine-Health has on Spinal Injections (including videos)

    In addition to the ESI, I have had excellent success with
    Trigger Point injections and Deep Cortisone Injections.
    I have had both in my shoulder. I have some nerve problem resulting fro my multiple ACDFs, but I also have a lot of
    arthritis in both shoulders. That prevents me from lifting my arems more than 90 degrees. Trigger point injections have calmed that down, but honestly two sets of deep cortisone injections cleared that up. There are two types of cortisone shots. I dont have the exact medical terms, but one is shallow with a small needle and the other is deep with a LOOOONNNNNGGGGG needle. Know if you dont like needles, this is something where you should not look.
    But that deep injection relieved some shoulder problems so that I could start working on manipulating it more. That worked, but only short term (9 months) I am back in that same situation know.

    Good luck,Spinal Injections sound a lot worse than they are actually getting them
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Cheri, I am much better today. The soreness was just one day and I have actually cleaned at least two rooms in my house today which believe me is quite an accomplishment!
    Ron, I'm off to check out all of the info you've provided. You know I noticed something funny yesterday afternoon. Even though my shoulder was soooo sore afterward for a brief moment it seemed like the spasm had disappeared. Which makes me wonder if the needle stick disrupted the nerve if even for a moment. Of course then the minimal swelling started and the ache which made it hard to tell where the pain was coming from but it didn't seem to be the spasm. Weird huh?
  • Tonya,

    There is a procedure called dry needling where a sterile dry needle is inserted into the muscle and it helps to break up contraction knots at trigger points.

    One of my neurologists has found, that some times while giving other types of injections, some patients will get relief initially simply from the insertion of the needle.

  • I've only had one and that was pre-surgery. Some doctors require an IV with an ESI, but mine didn't even offer one.

    The method of doing an esi is different depending on which doctor. Some will require you to lie on your back, some on your side. They use live x-ray (flouroscopy) to position the needle correctly.

    With mine, the doctor injected some numbing medication which was just a little prick, nothing bad at all. And then he began advancing the needle. It was interesting to watch because he would move the needle a bit and the technician would take an xray, and then he would advance again, continuing with the xrays until he was certain the positioning was correct.

    The only part that hurt on mine was when they injected the cortisone. I had an exact replication of my burning radiculopathy for a few seconds, very intense, but was over quickly and I was just able to breathe through it. But this at least told them they were injecting the correct nerve root. It was all over fairly quick. I did end up with a major headache for a couple of days, but all in all it wasn't too bad. the facility that did the injection was 2.5 hours from my home; I slept all the way home and when I got out of the car is when the headache hit.

    I have had several facet injections since that time. This doctor doing the facet ones offers sedation, but to be honest, getting the IV started was more difficult than tolerating the injection. I'm not an easy stick though. I've had 1 injection with sedation, 3 without. So if your doc doesn't offer IV and sedation, don't worry too much. After what you've been through, this will be a minor amount of pain. Good luck.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • 4 ESI's. 2 were fine and 2 hurt horribly. One was so bad I thought I might not live. I think he hit my nerve dead on and could have cared less. He was yelling at me, I was hysterical and trying to not move and the nurse was actually consoling me to a huge degree not seen usually in nurses right in front of the doctor. (Usually they wait until the doctor has left.) It was THAT bad and it was also not with the use of fluoroscopy. It was an anesthesiologist at the hospital who got paid no matter how good he was (no need for referrals, etc.) and when I complained to my doctor, he was furious. Said he had had SO many problems with this particular doctor, treating his patients like cattle.

    Since that horrible ESI, I have been very needle phobic (with good reason - you had to be there!!) and usually require Versed to calm me down enough to even have any injection at all. Then I had my horrible experiences with needles during my SCS trial and SCS procedure and found out I have absolutely horrid and unexpected scar tissue, which probably explains some of the troubles.

    Sigh.......working on turning those pages!! lol

  • That explains that. I just wish it had provided much more relief than just the hour or so that it lasted. I see the doctor again in a couple of weeks so I will know what's up. But at least I'm now ready for whatever he says. I just want this part over with so bad. It's the only pain I have left since surgery and once it's gone then YEA for me!
  • Is this more common before surgery or after surgery I wonder? I just need relief fast and PT is not going to give me any quick fix. I've already been there and done that. I need my right hand back soon. Thanks Cindy. I'll PM you.
  • Is there anything sweetheart that your doctors have not put you through? I always read your posts even when they have nothing to do with me just to keep up with you. I'm glad that your SCS is finally offering you relief so that you don't have to meet yet another uncaring anesthesiologist. You and I share one thing in common. Needle phobia. I'm really tired of being poked on I can't wait until this is over. I'll make sure that if I do this I have the best. My doctor has been so good to me and everyone he works with have been wonderful. Although I have described some of his medication as mean he's definitely not. :)
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