Avatar universal

Looking for suggestions

Hello, I am fairly new to the neighborhood and after reading a lot of other posts, I guess its time to add my own. I am a 46 year old male who has more than his share of issues but we will stick to pain for now. About a year and a half ago, I started having problems with muscle spasms in my upper back that then moved down my right arm with two fingers going numb (still are). After confirming it was originating in my neck, I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in spinal issues. He determined right away that I had a herniated disk (c6 - c7), beginning of herniation on c5 - c6, as well as some degeneration in other areas. He recomended and did surgery to fuse only c6-7. They went in through the front where they said would be the least invasive to the muscles. He determined the surgery to be a success and I was sent home the next day. I started therapy shortly after and found the muscles in neck above surgery were very sore and tight. Doctor at that time did not feel was a problem. After a few months of therapy without relief, I discontinued therapy. Dr said to give it time. From x-rays and new mri, he felt it was healing properly and couldn't see anything major that would cause problems. He said he could go back in and check c5 6, send me to pain management or just wait. Well, I waited for about 6 months and went back to try pain management. He proceeded to do three steroid injections into cervical spine above surgery on each side of my neck. Let me tell you, I have done some painful things in my life (ex.stuck a pitch fork into my foot when I was a teenager) and this was the worst. No numbing. It took about 2-3 days to get over pain of procedure and then I felt great for two days. And then, it went back like it was prior to procedure. When I went back for second treatment, Dr said he knew it wouldn't work second time, but had to before trying cervical RFA (burning nerves). Guess what, it didn't work. I put off the RFA for another 6mon. Tried therapy again and even acupuncture, Did nothing. Checked into possible lyme disease, nope.
Finally had RFA done on right side two weeks ago. Felt better for two days, and came back just as bad. Having left side done next week. Now after all that description, I'll ask my question. If this doesn't work, where should I go from there? Get a second surgical opinion, Try a neurologist or even a different PM? I need to do something, Thanks
9 Responses
Avatar universal
Yes. absolutely get a second opinion. When I first started reading your story it worried me that this Dr was so quick to recommend surgery. He should have recommended a second opinion. I also don't understand why he didn't fix c6 while he was doing c7. That doesn't sound right to me. He knew you had two herniated discs so both should have been operated on at the same time, in my opinion.
I'm so sorry to hear your injections were so painful. Did he use an x ray to see where he was giving the shots? If a Dr doesn't use an x ray they can't be sure of exactly where the shots are going and they might not work and can be incredibly painful.
I recommend you get in to see a different pain management Dr. Are you on any medication for your pain? If not, you probably should be until you can get all of this straightened out. And do get a second opinion. I'm not sure if it's a good idea to let this same Dr do anything more to you.
547368 tn?1440541785
Hi Again. It's good to hear from you - but sorry I am so late with my response. I've been on vacation.

I agree with Remar. It's time to take another look at your Cervical Spine with a new MRI and get a second opinion.

Didn't a practitioner suggest a Nerve Block (killing of the Nerve) for you? Sorry I haven't taken the time to reread your last post.

Injections into the Cervical Spine is tricky business. It take a high level of skill and practice/experience to do this effectively. As I said before the Cervical Spine is a very delicate and complex area compared to the rest of our Spine. The structures are very small and it's more difficult to treat. You may just require a more skilled Neurosurgeon.

Yes, if you can I suggest a good PMP until you can obtain better pain relief through what ever means they can provide. It's very "normal" to have chronic pain following a fusion, especially in the Cervical Spine. The goal should be to control that pain the best it can be controlled.

Remember that the vertebrae, disc and supporting structures above and below a fusion often develop problems following a fusion. Abnormal stress and motion is placed on those areas once the fusion is preformed. The C5-C6 can no longer move or function as they once did - it's up to those structures above and below to carry the entire load. Have you had a recent MRI?

Please let us know how you are doing. I'll be interested to hear about the road you take and the results you obtain. I am so very sorry for your chronic pain. If it helps - we get it. Please keep in touch and feel free to be active in our community. You're always welcome here.

Take Good Care of Yourself,
Avatar universal
Thanks for the advice guys. I am going to have the RFA done on the left side of my neck tomorrow (right side done three weeks ago). The last MRI I had done was three months after surgery (about 15 months ago). If I don't get some major benefit from this, I'm definitely done with this one. I have been researching another one in area that was recommended by clients of his. I'll keep you posted.
547368 tn?1440541785
Good luck with the second RFA. I hope it's effective.

Avatar universal
Well, I made it through my RFA on Wednesday, barely. When I went to PMP to go ahead with RFA, he described procedure as them semi-sedating me to get needles in, then waking me up to test if needles placed correctly, then re-sedating me to do burning. Three weeks ago, they did right side of my neck and they did what he had told me, except after two days the pain came back. This time they did not sedate me, at least not enough that I didn't know what was going on. Also during procedure, I heard him tell me that a pinch was coming when he injected me with a local. But he only waited less than 10 sec before inserting needle. Needless to say, I felt everything. When I got back to recovery, I asked the nurse and she said they injected the same two drugs as first time (one for sleepy and one for making foggy), except they injected the opposite quantities. I made it back to work today, friday, but I am still sore. So far, the pain in neck area is decreased. We'll have to wait and see.
Avatar universal
I'm glad to hear you're feeling some relief. I know in your post above you said you would give this another try to see if it worked or not. Let's hope that it does last a lot longer then the first time. Since it only helped for two days on the right side will you be trying it again, or will you wait to see how the left side does?
I feel so bad for you. Chronic pain is awful and it sure doesn't help if you're not getting the right treatments.
Please forgive my confusion when I commented before. I thought your Dr only fixed c7 and not c6 but after rereading your message I see he did both.
Tuck gave you great advice. It's been awhile since you've had an MRI. It sounds like it's time to get another one to see how c5 is doing.
Avatar universal
Thanks remar. The doctor fused the c6 and c7 vertabrae together. Over this weekend, some of the pain has come back. At times the pain is in the joints, but mostly it is the muscles at top of neck and behind skull that seem to keep contracting. Which causes pain and constant pressure. Not sure where to go from here. I'm probably going to contact surgeon to ask about new MRI.
547368 tn?1440541785
Sorry I am once again tardy with my reply. Thanks again for the update. It's greatly appreciated.

I had hoped you would have had better results with the final RFA. I am so very sorry!  If I'm reading correctly you have had some relief, is that correct?

I think consulting another physician is your best bet. I hope that the new physician will do a repeat MRI. I think it's time to "see" what's going on. There may be no new changes but it's best to have all the facts. If things haven't changed than it's time for better pain management.

I'll look forward to your updates. I wish you the very best.

Take Care,

Avatar universal
Tuck, What kind of physician would you reccomend at this point? I called a different PMP yesterday but they said they only do the same injections that I already had done. Should I try a different orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist or ? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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