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Physical Therapy - Problem from E-STIM?

KirstinKKirstin Posts: 1
edited 06/26/2015 - 5:53 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi All,
This is my first ever online post so hope I'm doing it right. :)
I had c5-6 cervical fusion on March 24, 3 months ago, and am doing physical therapy. After 5+ years of chronic neck and arm pain and every conservative treatment I went for the surgery with a reputable neurosurgeon who gave me a 60% chance I would think the surgery was worth it and very small chance of being worse.
Well, as I've returned to work full time on the computer and some stress, my muscle tension and pain are worse than presurgery. I've considered going back to part time work but for financial reasons and my career I've been taking it day by day and hoping PT would help.
In PT 4 days ago I received what I believe is called E-STIM where the therapist rubbed my right trap muscle with the jelly and E-STIM unit. He's done his before, but this time it got really hot and he focused on one spot too long. He was talking to another patient and I pulled away twice saying it was too hot. His arm followed with me and as I pulled away and then he moved it around a little more but it was still pretty warm and focused on the one spot. I was told before it shouldn't be painful but a little uncomfortable at certain points on the body. I'm wishing I would have been more firm with him.
Anyway, about an hour after I got home I started having significant pain in that muscle and shoulder- most severe pain I've experienced (except for immediately post op). At times I think it's nerve pain and others muscle. I now have missed several days of work and can't sleep. I don't know if something happened that I won't recover from and I'm terrified. I don't know what to do- give it time, see a neurologist, an orthopedic, go to the ER, call pain mgmt for more meds (already on lots of pain meds and muscle relaxers), consider a nerve med (hate the side effects and don't know which would work)... I'm panicked that I'm going to lose my job, house, car and ability to care for my son.
Has anyone had a bad experience with E-STIM and if so what happened and how did you get relief?
Physical therapist says we didn't do anything intense at the visit of course and says to use all the pain mgmt techniques we've talked about and to follow up with pain mgmt for injections. My surgeon is on vacation for 2 weeks so I can't get any advice there... When i called before this incident to complain about pain back at work his nurse has told me before to see pain mgmt or neurologist. She did say they'd sign paperwork for reduced work schedule if I need that. Any advice on how to heal from this asap? I'm stepping up my muscle relaxer regimine and lots of ice.


  • That's not an E-stim. An E-stim makes your muscles contract and relax. Sounds like he did some sort of ultra sound therapy and possibly burned you. Try putting some aloe vera or a burn cream on it and see if that helps. The burning pain from a burn can mimic the burning pain from a nerve.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    welcome to spine-health

    please click on the welcome and learn ,ore about sh and how to navigate this site for best benefit to you.
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