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4 ESI's, 10 Facet inj. Recent RF ....What next?

bimmerellabbimmerella Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am 39 years old and have been diagnosed with bulging disks C1 thru 4. Been fighting with it hard over this past year. I have been very aggressive in trying to slow the progression of my pain and numbness. The ESI's helped with the numbness but not the pain. Facet injections helped the pain, but only for a couple of weeks at a time, so my Dr suggested RF which I had done in early Dec. I had done my homework, and it seemed like I couldn't find any one experience that was negative except for they had gotten no relief. Well, I not only didn't get any relief, I got WORSE! Has anyone been in this situation? What did you do next? My neck feels unstable, stiff, and just wrong. I can move my neck from side to side just barely rubbing the sore areas. Not long ago I began dropping things. I have dropped a whole cup of coffee on myself and my new couch, and my beverage fell out of my hand while I was working at my computer, and that turned out bad. This is all very frustrating!!
I need suggestions on what tests I should assert myself to ask for, as I haven't had an MRI done in 2 years. I would like to know what has helped others when all of the above treatments fail??? Help! I'm 39, I am not willing to give in to this thing! Any advise would be greatly appreciated.


  • Welcome to Spine Health! I'm a lumbar patient, so am unfamiliar with cervical issues. However, I did have ESI's (4 total in 2 years) and 2 bilateral nerve root blocks. I was advised by all doctors to have less then 3 injections per year. Have you had all those in one year???

    My doctor had said that if the nerve root blocks worked, they wanted to move to the nerve ablations (which I believe is the same thing as RF). I had read about people being worse and MUCH worse from the nerve ablations, so I was really scared about that. Considering my diagnosis, all that was wasting my time anyway from what I've read. But I had to jump through the hoops. I was told 2 nerve root blocks minimum, and if they don't help, you don't have to have a 3rd. So I fought HARD to not get a 3rd although they (the clinic) ended up mad. I did NOT need any extra steroids in my body on top of everything else considering it was a wasted shot, but certainly a lot of money for the doctor pushing those shots. And insurance plays it's part by requiring us to go through certain procedures before approving others - sometimes good, sometimes bad, because the insurance people aren't doctors. And some doctors are only in it for the money. Many pain patients are dropped when they refuse to cooperate with the injections.

    Thing was, I was already diagnosed and cleared for the spinal cord stimulator by a former neurosurgeon and then we moved to a new state. The new doctor ignored all former medical records and made me start an entirely new 6 months of conservative treatment. Where I live, I had few other choices and he is considered an expert in SCS. Just has a horrible bedside manner.

    Just be careful while you try to put off other procedures that you don't end up with permanent nerve damage like I did. I only delayed medical treatment 4 months while I practically lived at the chiropractor's office (who never once told me to get medically checked out.) By the time I did, I had a massively herniated L5-S1 and I'm sure those 3 chiro adjustments a week didn't help that herniation, and they might have caused it!! We will never know, but I was MAD MAD MAD as this chiro was also a personal friend. When she thought my husband or sons had a broken bone or anything wrong, she would refuse to touch them and make them get medically checked out first. But I guess that didn't apply to me.

    Not having an MRI in 2 years, yet having all these injections would make me personally nervous. Can you get a second opinion? Has your doctor mentioned the danger in getting all these injections so close together (I'm assuming you did this all last year?) Maybe in your case it is fine - just would be something I would double check on.

    I would be scared like you if I was dropping cups. For me, I have major numbness in my hips, thighs, calves, feet and 4th and 5th toes on each foot, along with burning pain 24/7. An EMG finally diagnosed S1 nerve damage. I just had my SCS placed on the 5th and it has been amazing.

    I will thinking of you and hoping you get some answers or updated diagnosis soon.

    Take care, and Welcome to Spine Health!

  • I have had all of those injections over the past 18 months. I had discussed with my doctor that I wanted to be very aggressive in treating this problem and that I didn't wish to consider surgery until it was my last option. I'm very active and I own my own business and don't have time to hurt! (Who does???) I think I am getting ready to ask for a new MRI and a surgical consult, even though I was hoping to avoid surgery for as long as possible. I am tired of the pain killers and the acid reflux. Did you get better after your surgery? My dad had the same thing happen to him with his Chiro that you did! I guess their business is back pain but jeez, you would think they would want to make sure they weren't hurting someone worse! I actually did have a Chiro tell me that he didn't think it was a good option for me, as my bulge is very high in the neck and pretty tricky. I was surprised but glad he was honest about not being able to help me.
    Thanks for the advise!
  • Maybe you need a second opinion on your treatment. I went to a 2nd pm Dr. and I'm going for a 2nd Ortho next week. I've had only 3 ESIs and 1 set of facet joint blocks. Maybe another MRI because of your recent dropping things and a EMG. But mostly a second opinion. Good luck. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I think that you are absolutely right. I think it's time for a new MRI and a surgical consult. I am going to my PM on Monday and I will be requesting this. I feel like this is one of those times where maybe I should assert more control over my own treatment. Pain management is a strange animal. It's the least control I have ever had over my own situation. From the very beginning they have you signing contracts and pretty much let you know that they are in charge, and if you don't agree with them, they can pull the rug out from under you. It's a very bad position for a person to be in. I need my pain meds or I CANNOT handle what I have to do for the day. PM Dr's don't like you when they know that you have fired one that you didn't feel like presented you with viable options. It automatically puts the label of difficult to control on you, and believe me, it has a bad effect on your treatment. I feel like if I demand this MRI and surgical referral, it might be considered that I am starting to be hard to control, but I'm at the point where I feel like taking control of MY life, and requiring my input to be considered.
    Thanks for the wisdom. It's given me a bit more courage to assert myself.
  • I asked my family Dr. PCP for an MRI. She just ordered bone scans but I knew there was something going on because I couldn't walk. Being assertive these days is important for everyone to have with their Health care provider. If the PM objects there's always another Dr. although we want to keep our good Drs being open and honest with them helps. Tears help sometimes too unfortuneatly. Not that we want to tell our Dr. what to do but to guide them to that subject because they usually know what to do. Presenting the fact that there's more numbness means you need to see Neuro and get an EMG if MRI not readily available. I hope everything works out when you see your Dr. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Well, I went to my PM doc today in a ton a pain, and insisted on a new MRI and I am going Wed. We reviewed my old MRI (18 months old) and he was particularly concerned because it seems that even then I had "on c5-6 a central posterior broad based disc protrusion measuring 3 X 12MM with indentation on the ventral aspect of the thecal sac." He says that since just over the past couple of months that my pain has changed, he is afraid that the disc there may have just completely ruptured. So I guess after Wed. I will know for sure. At any rate he said 3mm and over is considered a borderline herniated disc. Sooooo....is that true?? I have looked for info on this, and can't find any real clear data on it. Any links or help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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