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Can't get Appt. to discuss spinal injections

I saw a new doctor in August and he agreed to assess my entire spine, which I was very happy about because I have DDD and stenosis in both cervical and lumbar spine. I had new MRI's done and he told me I have large bone spurs along my cervical spine which are causing radiculopathy down my shoulders and both arms.

I have permanent numbness in my right foot from sciatica and the doctor said severe stenosis in the lumbar area. I had nerve testing and it showed nerve damage into my right hip from a sciatica attack several years ago.

I have been very fortunate in that physical therapy has worked well in the past and nsaid therapy as taken care of the pain as long as I restrict my activities. Now I am over 60 and it is getting more and more difficult to control the pain. I have just been diagnosed with diabetes and I need to keep active to keep my blood sugar level under the control. I want to be able to keep going to water exercise classes and riding my bike for short distances (I have a special bike seat that protects my spine.)

He increased my dose of tramadol and also gave me a new nsaid - diclofenac. He also said he wanted to schedule me for spinal injections in both my cervical and lumbar spine. His office sent a request to my insurance company and it was approved.

That is about the time I found this forum and I have been reading the health resources and pain forums about these injections. As a result of my research, I decided to slow down this process and get all of my questions answered about whether this is the right approach for me. The doctor did not talk to me about the injections other than to tell me he wanted to schedule them and I did not know what questions to ask him ( he was late for a meeting and he left pretty quickly).

So I called his office yesterday to schedule another appointment. The person who answered the telephone said I should talk to the doctor's p.a. I left a message with the p.a. but then got a reply from a clerical person who said the p.a. wanted me to address my questions to the "pain center" at the hospital. I said, " I want to talk to a medical person - not a clerical person."

The office person then said, " I'm sure that when you call, you will have to talk to a clerical person at the pain center but you should ask to talk to a medical person who can answer all of your questions."

This is scaring me. From what she said, I am supposed to get my questions answered on the telephone from someone who is not my doctor. I don't know why my new spine doctor or his p.a. would not schedule an appointment to sit down and answer my questions. Maybe this is routine. The pain center is part of one of the large hospitals in town. Still, I know this procedure is not without risks.

Should I run away now? Or, rather swim away, since I am no longer able to run? It takes months to get an appointment with another spine specialist but should I talk to someone else?

(not a) badshepherd


  • The nurse can explain what types of injections that the doctor is suggesting and what they are supposed to do, but if you want the doctor to do that, he should by all means sit down and explain the injections , what the side effects could be, and what the outcomes of them that he is hoping for are.....you can call and make an appointment and not specify the reason to the person making the appointment , and if you are comfortable with the answers given, then go ahead with them , and if you aren't satisfied with the answers or they refuse to allow you to discuss them with the PM doctor, then I would find another doctor who will.
  • badshepherdbbadshepherd Posts: 8
    edited 10/07/2013 - 4:06 AM
    First of all, thanks Sandi. I did succeed in making another appointment with the spine doctor by not telling the scheduler why I wanted another appointment. That was a great suggestion.

    I called the number given to me by the doctor for the pain specialist and the woman who spoke to me said that they did not discuss options with patients but only scheduled injection appointments with a pre-injection consultation. It all must be done on the same day - no time to think it over.

    I am a bit overwhelmed by a recent diagnosis of diabetes and what this means for me. I am really leaning towards more physical therapy (and tramadol and diflenac) to postpone any invasive procedures for awhile.

    Wow, I feel rushed into this but I don't want to seem a difficult patient.

    (not a)badshepherd
  • backbback Posts: 190
    edited 10/07/2013 - 5:30 AM
    Bad Shepard,

    You need to make sure that you have your diabetes under control before you do the injections. Most of these injections involve steroids, which will in turn cause a diabetics blood sugar to rise sharply for several days. If your doctor knows about your diabetes diagnosis, he should have counseled you on this. My PM Doctor is always reluctant to do shots with me and so is my shoulder doctor. I have to adjust my food intake for several days until everything calms down. You should make another appointment and discuss this with your doctor.

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