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Cervical/Thoracic Pain - Thrown To Wolves

Kgirl69KKgirl69 Posts: 2
edited 12/26/2014 - 5:33 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
I'm new to this chat site and always looking for similar situations for guidance on my issues. Originally I had lumbar fusion (L5/S1) over 15 years ago & had exceptional success. Earlier this year I started suffering from extreme pain between my shoulder blades. This is a hot burning, stabbing pain that tends to radiate more to the right shoulder back area. I started with my family physician for x-rays & sent me on to my prior spine surgeon. He did a cervical MRI showing sight buldge/degeneration of C5 & C6 but nothing pronounced. From there I was transferred to his pain management team. This doctor said I was suffering from a rib head out - without even examining me! He sent me to 6 weeks of painful physical therapy which just made the pain worse & finally therapist said there was nothing more he could do that it was more in depth & a spinal issue he could not solve. I went back to the pain management doctor which performed a thoracic MRI showing slight buldge/degeneration of T6 & T7 and prescribed meds to help with the pain. After a few weeks I couldn't handle the pain so I went back for a follow up. He then said go to my family physician as this was NOT a spinal issue (again, no examination!). My family physician was sympathetic & said this IS a spinal issue and sent me to his neurologist. This neurologist prescribed another thoracic MRI w/contrast only to find the same T6 & T7 herniation & degeneration along with a few other levels of degeneration. He prescribed more meds (& I can't take narcotics due to severe sensitivity) & said he didn't know what else to tell me because he's not a surgeon so he can't help me. I went back to my family physician who sent me to a different pain management specialists. She performed occipital nerve & cervical injections which did absolutely nothing but give me extreme headaches the first round. After a follow up & with the holidays coming she wanted to give it another try 10 days later. We did so & the same outcome - severe headaches & no pain relief what so ever. I went back to my family physician who now wants me to see a neurosurgeon for possible spinal stimulator. I said I believe I should see a spinal specialist. I don't want to mask the pain - I want to find resolution & fix the issue! Does anyone out there have any suggestions as to which specialist (neurologist - spine specialist) I should see or what testing I should insist be done to help find a resolution?


  • LizLiz Posts: 8,835

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Kgirl69KKgirl69 Posts: 2
    edited 12/26/2014 - 9:52 AM
    I did view the information you posted but was looking for more of a personal input. I've had x-rays, MRI's, PT, all sorts of meds & injections done. I've been told I should look into a myelogram or discogram testing to find pain source but I don't know anything about these test or who would perform them. I'm in pain all the time & can't take narcotics due to severe sensitivity so have had no pain relief since July 2014! Looking for guidance or advice based on others personal experiences.
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  • that there is disc degeneration and a disc bulge ( not the same as a herniation), then referred you to pain management, they seem to feel that surgery is not an option.
    The usual protocal is conservative treatment first, physical therapy, ice, tens, aqua therapy, for at least 6 weeks, followed by injections to try to determine both the pain generator and to ease any inflammation in the area that is suspected. If the injections fail, a referral back to the surgeon may be in order but if surgery is not an option, there is little that a surgeon can do, other than refer you back to pain management.
    If you aren't experiencing nerve symptoms, some testing is not going to be ordered since certain criteria have to be met in order for insurance to pay for those tests.
    I would suggest that perhaps you may want to consult with another spine surgeon or perhaps a physiatrist who specializes in spines , and based on his examination of you, your symptoms, he will determine what testing may be medically necessary.
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