This post is a continuation of A Pain in the Neck: Part 1, if you’ve not read it, I suggest doing so before reading this post.
One of the options my pain doctor and I have discussed is getting a neurostimulator device. It is an implant in your spine that sends signals to help block the pain signals you are receiving.
We also discussed other injections and treatment options, but agreed that I needed a more up to date MRI.
Following my MRI, he consulted two other doctors before speaking with me. All agreed that my best option was to try a cervical steroid epidural injection. This is an injection of steroids into the epidural space in the spine. It’s done in a surgical theatre, under x-ray, in the hopes that the steroids will help work as an anti- inflammatory agent and ease the pressure in the spinal space. This, therefore, takes the pressure off the nerve(s) (source).
The procedure is not without risk, however, I was happy to agree. After all… a chance to gain some pain relief is a chance. It was only a 50/50 chance, but it was still a chance!
Several months later, I received a phone call asking if I could be at the hospital in a couple days to get the injection done. Yes!
My ever patient husband arranged to have the day off, and my father-in-law agreed to drive us.
We arrived and the outpatient department was in a brand new building at the hospital, and the nursing staff could not have been more lovely!
They found out that I hadn’t had any breakfast (I tend to be sick a lot and didn’t want to throw up that morning during the injection), but they made it very clear that they were happy to get me anything if I asked. I did not, however, turn down their offer of a cup of tea.
I rarely turn down tea.
My doctor saw me, I filled out the consent forms, and eventually it was time.
The procedure went very smoothly. As I was having the injection done on my neck, I sat on the edge of my hospital bed with my head tilted forward and the x-ray positioned around me.
My doctor cleaned the area, and talked me through the whole thing. He started by injecting local anaesthetic in multiple spots. That was the most uncomfortable part as local anaesthetic has a burning sensation.
After the area was numb, he placed the epidural needle, added more anaesthetic, and then the steroid. The needle was removed and I was quickly laid down, before a dressing was applied.
I was wheeled back to my recovery bay, and told to lie flat for 20 minutes. Once that time was up, I was allowed to slowly sit up, and drink a bit more tea. After a while, they had me sitting in the chair, and once they made sure I had had a bit of toast, and was okay, I was discharged.
I bruised quite a bit from the injection, but that was to be expected. I had a some extra pain for a few days as well too, however, a week later I started feeling some relief.
After about 10 days, I was able to make a fist with my left hand. That’s something I hadn’t been able to do in years. I also was noticing less pain overall and was able to lower my medication.
I have still have had pain, especially in my neck, however it has just been less. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for less pain!
It’s now been almost 3 months since my injection and whilst I’m not in as much pain as I was prior to having it, I have started to notice a bit more breakthrough pain than I have been having.
You can get the injection again though, and as I see my pain management doctor next month, we will obviously be discussing whether or not he feels it’s worth it again.
I know these things might seem rather dramatic to some of you, but anything to ease a life of constant pain, is anything but dramatic to me.