Thursday, October 16, 2008

Update: Cervical Facet Blocks

***Please note, I have put together an updated overview of my cervical facet block experience. You can see that post HERE.***

I wrote about my experience with cervical facet blocks about a month ago, entitled Cervical Facet Blocks: Undercover Investigative Report. I am now almost five weeks post-procedure, and would like to give my readers an update.
The soreness/pain from the actual block itself lasted a full seven days. After that, I had relief for about three weeks. At the three week mark, the moderate neck/back of the head pain returned. The moderate pain only lasted a couple days and then became milder.

I saw my physiatrist at the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch on Oct. 7th for a follow-up appointment. A physiatrist is a
doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating pain with the end goal of returning function by using non-operative means.

My physiatrist's reaction to my level of pain relief was mixed. I asked him if he thought my procedure was successful. He pointed out that "successful" is subjective. Just because my pain only subsided for a few weeks does not mean the injections were not successful. In fact, it sounded as though the injections are just as much an investigative tool as a tool to provide pain relief. He found out that the location was good, but perhaps I needed another set of injections to provide longer relief.

The cervical facet blocks did not affect my Migraines at all. He seemed disappointed with this, but I had not expected it. According to this doctor, some people get relief if the neck is the location of origin. My Migraines definitely have not decreased in frequency, but increased because of other reasons. He said that I may have a continual battle with my neck because my neck is holding up my head, the source of my Migraines. Supporting a hurting head can cause neck tension and pain. That makes sense.

My physiatrist has been wanting me to utilize my beloved physical therapist. But, the last few months I have been home bound because of my frequent Migraines. (That is another story for another post.) But, at his urging, I must find a way to PT twice a week. I made it to my first session this week although I was using my abortive and rescue medications to make it possible. The PT said he could visibly see the tension in my neck. I left the session with my neck more sore than when I went in. But it felt good to have my neck massaged and stretched.

Aside from physical therapy, the plan is to do another round of Cervical Facet Blocks in the same locations, and to add an Occipital Nerve block and a C2 root block. These will be done at the beginning of December.

In reading the information given to me by the physiatrist, these blocks are not meant as a "cure". They are meant to enable the me, the patient, to participate in therapy or an exercise regimen that pain would otherwise prevent me from attempting. Again, it seems like these blocks are a tool to discover from where the pain is originating. Said doctor mentioned there are lots of other paths to take if these do not pan out.

CINN's website gives more detailed information into the different types of treatment for neck pain. Click HERE if you are interested.

I'll keep you updated on my progress.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kelly,

    I'm glad that you are progressing forward. Even if it's baby steps, it is still in the right direction.

    I didn't have your luck with the blocks, in fact after they wore off the pain was much more severe. It was considered a failure. Nothing someone in serious pain wants to hear more than the word 'failure' right??!

    Thank you so much for your update. Such awesome information to pass along to others...