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Freaked Out at Medial Branch Block Procedure Today!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Spinal Injections
I was just fine during the 2 1/2 hours while I waited to go in for this procedure...but as soon as they had me lay on my tummy and I had the screen with my soine on it in front of my face, I started to cry. Then, by the second poke with the needle- I flipped out-couldn't breathe, hyperventilated, got hysterical and said "STOP!". So, the doc stopped-they all stopped and got me out of there. The doc seemed mad- I don't know what he's gonna do now....I wanted to ask him for sedation beforehand but you know how they don't believe you unless they see it firsthand...I've had to be sedated for even minor dental procedures- I'm tough as nails in every other aspect of my life, but I cannot control that crazy reaction to someone 'doing something' to me. Can my doc just get mad and not even give me meds anymore because of what happened today? I was totalyy uninformed going in- I had no concept of what the procedure was going to be like...how can they expect to just go fishing around someones spinal column like no big deal? Any comments anyone???


  • Well Kittykat......lol,I couldn't help laughing whenever I read your post,even though there is nothing funny about it.I totally understand.Maybe the reason I can laugh is because I've been there myself before,and though I know the panic attacks are anything but funny-it's in my past far enough now ...but my heart does go out to you!

    I don't think your Dr should withhold your meds because of this~it sounds like a classic anxiety attack to me,and I'm certain he saw the same.Maybe you should call the office and explain to them how you felt...just tell them what you said here.It sounds reasonable to me why you were freaked and nervous.

    Maybe do some research on the procedure,and ask the Dr/nurse some questions?

    Good luck,and welcome to S~H!
  • Thanks Robin! I appreciate you seeing the humor- I'm laughing about it now too.....I don't know how the two little old ladies that went before me were in and out without a peep! Makes me look like an even bigger wimp! Oh well. Yeah, I called his office today and had the receptionist ask if he can try again with sedation....I'll find out tmorrow. Thanks for your reply and take care!
  • I cried like a baby in my nerve block. i have NEVER felt so much pain. You go in thinking it will help but the fact that it hurts and you are in so much pain already doesnt help. I think most of us are in agony by the time we get to that point.

    I sreamed, yelled, swore and went into shaking shock for half an hour. So I think you did really well!!!!!!!

    They should sedate you, but i think they dont cause they need to know they have hit the nerve (bloody idiots).

    Then they say, this will tickle (TICKLE) try a burning hot poker flying down your nerve while they tell you to be still.

    BUT if it does work i hear its worth it.
    Ignore them, my doc said he had a man freak out after the local and they had to stop and he was one of his mates hee hee.

    Our pain threshold is tough, but we are also anticipating pain as well.......they just have to work with us.

    I would imagine he would sedate you now, even for his own sanity lol.
  • I got through the medial branch block, but I honestly thought it was barbaric. I was quietly crying and the tears and blood were running down my face & dripping on the floor. ( My face was facing downward)I think I had a panic attack from all the adrenaline after the fact. I couldn't stop shaking and tearing from the relief that it was over, and I didn't feel that I had control over my body's response.

    I actually found that the rhizotomy was a bit easier with the versed even though I felt it & remember all of it. Many say that they don't remember any of it. I just wasn't as upset while they were doing the procedure. This is a good thing as it took much longer than the medial branch block.

    Don't feel badly at all. You should tell your doctor just what you have described to us. It might even make it easier if you write it all down. We often get nervous when we speak with the doctors.

    If it makes you feel any better. I had a major panic attack when I went in to get 5 breast cysts aspirated. I thought it was gonna be no big deal. Once they came at me with those needles, & I could see them at the front of my body. I started to panic. I couldn't breath. I couldn't stop shaking. I so wanted to pull it together and get the procedure over with but my body wouldn't cooperate. I got that sense of "flight"!!!! Get me out of here!! I was so embarrassed as the doctor got so frustrated with me that I couldn't stop shaking and shivering! Now that I think of it - How impatient of him- He doesn't even have breasts!! LOL

    Get a heavier dose of versed & anxiety meds & u will be fine. I wish someone had suggested that to me. I wish someone had also reminded me that the doctors work for us and should be compassionate and humane and respectful!!! We are all humans!!

    Good Luck and God Bless!!!

    fellow spiney,


  • I hope no one minds if I bump up this old topic? It's just that my experience was similar to this and wanted to talk about that.

    Actually the block was okay, I had that done as a preliminary to getting radiofrequency lesioning done. It was about the same as getting an epidural, not especially painful in the whole scheme of things. No it was the radiofrequency lesioning that was a total nightmare.

    First of all, my doctor was an #@&. He is a so-called pain management specialist who doesn't believe in using meds to manage pain, just lots of needles. My primary sent me to him in the first place to manage my meds! But we decided to go with the flow and try some of these needle things since I have had a good response to epidurals in the past. My primary is the one who kept me on vicodin during this time, not the pain management doc. Anyway, the epidurals did give me some relief, but you are only allowed 3 per year, and it only brought my pain level down to about 3-4. So then he wanted to try facet point injections. Every single one of those only increased my pain, I had 3 of them. He kept promising, maybe this time, we'll try a different area, etc. And like an idiot I trusted him even while my pain was increasing.

    Wellll with increased pain, I needed more meds, but my primary wasn't comfortable with raising my dosage or trying something new. I am her only patient with chronic pain and she just doesn't know how to handle that...which is why she sent me to a pain mgmt specialist!!! ARGH! So we decided enough was enough and he's fired and she was sending me to a different pain management specialist, who does handle meds as well as the whole gamut of treatments (next up, I'm getting acupuncture.) But...we decided we were doing this right after I had the medial branch block done, which as I mentioned was preliminary to getting radiofrequency lesioning. So when she called him to expedite my records to the new pain mgmt doc, he convinced her to let him try that on me first, and she called me to convince me. Since it's something totally different, I was willing to try it. The way it is supposed to work is that it burns the nerves so that you feel no pain once it's healed, in about a week. I was convinced because of the possibility of being pain free was just too good to pass up.

    Things did not go well at all. It was nearly the most painful thing I've ever went through in my entire life. There was only one thing worse, I had a hysterectomy and was given a morphine pump in the hospital. With that you should press the button every 10-20 mins or so to keep up the levels of narcotics so that you are comfortable. But I fell asleep for 6 hrs and woke up with no morphine in my system and in excruciating pain. That was a level 10 in my book. Anyway, this procedure was a 9, then.

    First they stick a drapery over you with a hole in it for a sterile environment for them to work in. Only the drapery covered my head completely so that I ran out of oxygen and couldn't breathe. The nurse had to keep lifting it up and using something like a bellows to get air to me when I told her I couldn't breathe. Also they had put two blankets over me which was nice at first but after awhile I was so hot and begged them to take them off. The doctor wouldn't let them. I had a 101 fever when they took my temp in recovery. But those are just the minor points, I was given no sedation and nothing but the lidocaine injection for pain. I found out later that many if not most doctors use both during this procedure. Now you must be awake enough to tell them that the needles are in the right spot at first, but once they are in place you should be given demerol for the actual RF procedure. It was so painful, and I had six needles placed, so it lasted almost 3 hours. I was crying and shaking uncontrollably during it.

    To top things off, it didn't work. It only increased my pain. Also I do know that this doctor resented the fact that I (and my primary) wanted to switch to another pain management doctor. He let me know that much. I think he withheld the versed and demerol during the procedure out of spite and let me suffer like that.
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