Doctor of Pain

PAIN drawing by W. Holcombe

We have a little joke in our house about how the Pain Clinic sounds like it’s a place where you are going to get pain, a little S&M anyone? It should be called the Pain Relief Clinic don’t you think?

My migraine doctor (a neurologist that specializes in headache disorders) said she was sending me to a pain specialist for my neck pain; you can understand my confusion when I ended up at a Spine and Sports Medicine Center. I’ve been to a sports medicine center before and it was filled with lots of sweaty people doing exercises and recovering from surgery. To say I was a bit wary of this appointment was an understatement.

The confusion ended once I talked to the doctor. This may be called a spine and sports medicine center, but it’s not like any sports medicine center I’ve been to before. Stuart actually said he wondered if they used that name because of the negative connotation association with pain clinics. I think it may also be because they mostly treat people with spine issues. But yeah, this was different.

They took a thorough history, that was very hard for me to go through, I kept breaking down when I was filling out the paperwork as I was realizing just how long I’ve been living in pain.

These are the things, that I know of, that are causing pain to my head, neck, and back area (this does not include pain in other areas). In 1973, at age 10, I broke my right arm and found out I had a bone tumor, that would end up with 5 more breaks, and a major surgery including a bone graft in 1978, leaving me with my right arm shorter than the left and recurring pain. May of 1974 I had my first migraine, two months later I woke with a headache that never went away. In 1991 I fractured my 7th cervical vertebra, and had a severe contusion to the back of my head (I now have arthritis in my neck). In 2016 I had akathesia as a side effect from a medication that has left lasting effects to my back. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m whining, really I’m not, it’s just the way it is.

After we talked about all my symptoms, the different types of pain, the numbness down my arm… and after we went through all the things I’ve tried to relieve my pain….PT, chiropractic, supplements, Botox, medications, acupuncture, massage….and how little they worked we discussed my next option, injections.

The first injection I’ll be getting is on Monday, it’s a corticosteroid injection to the right and between the C-7 and T-1 vertebra to address the nerves that run down my right arm. Every day I wake up with my right arm in severe pain and it has electrical sensations running down it, and my hand is weak. They decided to address that first. I’m very nervous about getting any steroid injections because of the risk of Avascular Necrosis. I had AVN in my left hip causing me to get a hip replacement, they believe it was caused from steroids. You can read more about that here. She said that most of the injections in the future would not be steroids, so hopefully this won’t do any harm. But what choice do I have? My quality of life is greatly diminished right now.

She sent me home with a prescription for a muscle relaxant and orders for an x-ray. Now I’m just waiting for Monday. I’m slightly nervous about this only because I was asked if I wanted sedation. Why would someone need sedation for this? They give you a local before the main injection. I’ve had major injections in my hips, and I’ve had lumbar punctures and patches in my spinal cord, I was never offered sedation for those. Am I wrong about how bad this is going to be? I had an injection for pain in my neck when I fractured it many years ago, I didn’t have sedation then. I was given something to calm me and it made things a little hard actually because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Have any of you had these kind of injections? What was your experience?

9 thoughts on “Doctor of Pain

  1. My pain specialists are a lot like what you’re describing. I’ve had epidural injections, nerve blocks, radio-frequency denervation, and steroid injections (mine are usually C5-C6 and/or C6-C7). I’ve had them with and without sedation. A previous doctor knocked me out (propofol), but when my newer doctors talk about sedation it just means something in my IV to relax me. A lot of times they like to use Versed.
    I hope these shots help you. I’ve had different injections in my neck over the last 10 years (cervical spondylosis) and they help about 90% of the time! gentle hugs Wen!! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got the impression they are just giving me a local, I didn’t think I was getting an IV, but maybe I’m wrong. I think I’ll take Valium before I go. 😉
      I just got the results from my xray and I too have cervical spondylosis.
      Here’s what it said:

         FINDINGS: The cervical spine exam consists of 5 views. There is demineralization. No evidence of fracture. There is mild narrowing of C5-C6 with trace retrolisthesis of C5 on C6. There is bilateral neural foraminal encroachment at C5- C6, more extensive on the left. Prevertebral soft tissues are normal. IMPRESSION: Degenerative cervical spondylosis with narrowing of C5-C6. Bilateral neural foraminal encroachment at this same level more extensive on the left. 

      I found it very interesting that it says most of the damage is on the left when most of my symptoms are on the right. 🤔

      Thank you for your insights. It’s very kind of you to share.
      Gentle hugs my dear. 💕💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A friend gets special injections twice a year (maybe more) for a rare arthritis (and now some osteoarthritis in various parts of his body. He mentioned that he has been put to sleep for some of the shoulder injections, while other injections not.
    He said the sedation was to help with positioning as well as any discomfort from the actual injection. The way he has to lay for the shot is extremely painful and difficult, hence sedation to allow his pain doctor to maneuver him into the proper position for the prep and then injection itself. And, some folks don’t like needles, feeling and/or seeing them. I was put under for nerve blocks in my neck.
    It’s strange how the “sidedness” works. As you know, my area of pain is the left side of my face. However, the muscles are tighter and more knotted on the right side of my neck and shoulder. Not what I expected.
    Good luck with your injection. Now, too, you have an x-ray diagnosis of the neck issue. This might help with treatment going forward. Hopefully, through this clinic, you will get some relief from pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How interesting. Thank you for sharing your friend’s story.
      I am wondering how much of this goes down further in my back. And I’d like to get the xray I had a couple of years ago to see how much this has progressed. At that time they said it showed slight signs of arthritis. This is a bit more than that.
      Thank you for the well wishes. 💕💕💕

      Like

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