Cervical Epidural Treatments Long Intro Sorry

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 12/11/2010 4:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Just as with everything no everyone gets relief from these injections.  So I am really asking advice for those that have had success.  In 2008 I went to the chiropractor because I was having shooting pain from my neck through the shoulder and down my left arm to the point my first three fingers were numb.  Like that feeling when you sleep on a limb.  He performed multiple adjustments which made me feel worse not better. Then he decided to order an MRI to confirm his thinking of herniated disks.   Well the MRI revealed three herniated disks in my neck.  Two of them were severe and I basically have two choices, surgery or therapy with him.  He promised he could cure me if I entered into a treatment contract for decompression chamber.  This is NOT covered under insurance, costs 5,000, and for 110.00 (opening a medical credit card line of credit) 4 years later it would be paid in full. smhair    WHAT?
No way.  I took my films to my GP, who gave me a mucle relaxer and steroid zip pak then sent me to physical therapy.  Since I already had a pain management doctor treating me for a different pain condition, I made an appointment with him as well, for a month 1/2 date.   The physical therapy group exists in the same office as my GP.  The pt person did not want me to do a block just yet since he wanted to see if pt would help. That pt doc wanted me to purchase this special pillow, this special brace, this special tens unit.  YIKES.  WELL I kept the appt with my PM doc, and he took one look at my films and wanted me to go through the cervical epidural.  So I scheduled for that Thurs.  The pt doc wasn't thrilled, but he was ok with it since I was still struggling, but he demanded I return to PT on Monday.  I did and within a week, the pt undid the effectiveness of the block, and I was in severe misery even with messages.  It got so bad no one could touch me from mid back up to neck without me crying.  So at my follow up with the PM, he said we said to repeat the block, and this time no pt until he signs off on it.  So away I went and did the second block, and the pain went away and I felt good.
Two weeks passed and I went to the f/u appt.  I asked if he wanted me to return to pt yet.  And much to my surprise he said no way.  Not now, not ever.  He said he has seen more patients like me that pt does more harm than good.  If I wanted to have adjustments to the lower back, perhaps, but never to my neck. 
I have had 6 epidurals since 2008, all of them give me atleast 6 months of 80% pain releif. I feel good, can work, and only require a muscle relaxer and mild pain reliever for 100%. 
I do not want surgery at this point in my life. My question is.. For those of you that have had them, and seem to be like me.  Is there a down side to this method of treatment?  My pain doc said that scar tissue can develop in some patients, but he has never had any patients that did.  He is an innovative pain management doctor who is cutting edge and not into patients that want only drugs.  I know that he is watching my other pain disorder for another study he is doing for Adhesion Related Pelvic Pain. So I trust him the most.
Anyone out there that have had multiple epidurals, and their outcomes.  Sorry this is long, I just love the people here...
Hugs for a Pain Free Day, which will be a challenge due to the weather and plunging temps.... Susie

Retired Mom
Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 12/11/2010 6:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry I have no answers for any of your questions, but I wanted to welcome you to the board and wish you good luck.

There are so many great people here who can give you information. I'm sure some of them will be along soon.

All my best!
Retired Mom

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 1097
   Posted 12/11/2010 7:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Sam,

I too have no answers but my personal opinion would be to keep doing what you're doing that is giving you pain relief. You trust your doctor, you say he's cutting edge, so you're going to be getting the best he has to offer. To me, that would be enough to keep doing the epidurals, until your doctor feels they are no longer offering you any benefit.

On a side note, is there a website for this doctor, for the studies he's doing with pelvic adhesion pain. I suffer from that in addition to all the other lovely stuff in my signature...I'd be interested in seeing what he's come up with.

Good luck to you Susie. I really believe that your body will tell you what it needs, and you just need to listen.

DX: Fibromyalgia, Severe Myofascial Pain, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Surgical Adhesions, IBS, IC-PBS, Carpal Tunnel (both wrists), FAI, Diabetes (just diagnosed), Reynauds, Opthalmic Migraines, Drug Related Hot Flashes, Hard Start for IV's, Unable to vomit due to surgery.

Meds: Oxycontin, Tramacet, Cymbalta, Cesamet, Flexeril, Clonidine + Vitamin D + Multi daily

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 12/12/2010 11:13 AM (GMT -6)   
I have had multiple epidurals in my neck (cervical spine) as well and multiple surgeries!  I will tell you I am in complete agreement with your PM Doctor, about having PT or manipulations done of your neck!  The idea of it scares me to death! As for the epidurals, the most relief I have gotten from them is 3 or 4 weeks, so it sounds like you are doing pretty good with yours. The draw back is they can only give you so many of them in a given time frame. Epidurals are also a good diagnostic tool because if you get relief from them, it is an excellent indicator to the surgeon that, that indeed is the problem area, that needs to be corrected!. As for surgery the first diskectomy and fusion I had was in 1985 at C-6/7, it was considered an emergency and I had no choice in it, I had severe damage and the herniated disk was fragmented with pieces lodged in my spinal canal!  During that time before surgery, I had been manipulated by an osteopathic doctor in the military, and he darn near killed me, it was by the grace of God I wasn't turned into a quadriplegic.  I am glad you did not choose to have that chiropractor work on you, as he can say what he wants, but I would never believe that he could cure you!!  But he could very well have made you much much worse!!  I had my second diskectomy and fusion in September of 2009  again I was having severe arm pain, and I had several epidural injections first, which gave me excellent relief from the pain but it just did not last! Anyway this time they used donor cadaver bone and used brackets and screws to hold it all together! I was in the hospital three days, and as soon as I woke up from surgery my arm pain was gone! Surgery is not without its draw backs, and most of the time they do not tell you that when they do a disk fusion that the disk above or below the fusion usually will go bad with in ten years, due to the added stress. I got close to 25 years on mine! Anyway I have major problems in my entire spine, as it is all going to pot! I just had a posterior articular joint fusion at C-3/4 done the 15th of November, and this was definitely the most difficult surgery I have ever had! The anterior cervical disk fusions  was a real piece of cake compared to the posterior joint fusions!
The thing I do want to stress to you, with having severe herniated cervical disk is to be careful! Especially with chiropractic manipulations, this is one area of the spine that you can ill afford to have messed up! Some forms of PT are fine, but again just be careful!  It sounds like your Pain Doctor is really on top of things and I think I would be more inclined to go with his advice. I know my Spinal Pain Management Doctor even sends me to surgeons when he thinks it is appropriate. Mine also does just about everything, and he treats the whole person!
Anyway I do wish you well and hope that it all works out for YOU!
Good Luck..........White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 663
   Posted 12/12/2010 2:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Sam, I too wish I had some answers for you, but I don't. I just wanted to welcome you to our family and I hope you stick around. Hopefully some others will be around that may have more info for you. Take care.
Gentle Hugs,

Fibromyalgia, Chronic daily headaches, Migraines, Possible Graves Disease, GERD, High blood pressure, Depression and Anxiety

Oxycontin, Percocet, Lopressor, Lexapro, Omeprazole, Promethazine as needed for nausea, Ventolin inhaler and Vitamin D3

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 12/12/2010 9:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry, I haven't read everyone else's responses but it sounds like epidurals are the least risky option available to you right now. Adjustments should never be done to the neck unless they're done by an osteopath (a D.O. who attends medical school and understands all the intricacies of cervical anatomy, but whose training and philosophy focus on the manual treatment of illness/injury). Most DO's will not do much with the neck -- massage and such, but nothing more.

Unfortunately, I had the same experience with PT that you did except by the time I saw my doctor about it, I had permanent damage to my neck -- atrophied muscles from nerve damage and overuse. I would not still be in pain a decade later if I would have instead done very light PT. I would likely have been in pain for months but not lost muscle function had I just skipped the PT altogether. It was supposed to improve how far I could turn my neck side to side or up and down, but at the end of the PT, I was worse off in range of motion and pain was through the roof. And, of course I had a mountain of PT bills to pay off. :(

You cannot do epidurals all the time. Your doctor can tell you what is right for you -- some docs will do series of epidurals but my prior PM said it's really not great to do them at the same level more than twice a year and my current PM won't do them more than four times per year. They do use steriods for the epidural and too much exposure to steroids can cause tissue damage (though doctors seems to have different opinions about what "too much" means). I have had on average two per year at the same level with no damage showing on films. Usually I get 3-4 per year, but some of them are in my low back. In between the epidurals we do facet injections & manage with medication.

Please do be careful when people make those "christmas wish" type promises. Nothing is likely to be the magical cure. If that kind of cure existed, it would be all over the paper and the TV. Medical doctors can overpromise too when it comes to surgery or neurostimulators or whatnot. So I'm not just putting it on the alternative therapists. Just try to think twice about those things. With the exception of newly discovered therapies, insurance will usually cover treatments that actually work.

If you are looking for something that might help, you could try OMT (that helped reduce my pain a tiny bit, maybe one level for about 4 days at a time). Also, I've only found it helpful for insomnia and nausea, but I know other people have benefited from acupuncture for pain. Most insurance companies now cover acupuncture if performed by an in-network provider.

Hope you find some relief!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5028
   Posted 12/13/2010 12:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Susie -
I was desperate and made the mistake of trying chiropractors too.  The first one tried to get me to sign a contract for $1700, but he wouldn't tell me what he was going to do, only that he would cure me.  I found out later that there are financial guys that run around buying these chiros' practices, teaching them how to run group seminars to get people to sign these contracts.
The second chiro I visited was very young, didn't try to get me to sign anything, but even though I asked him not to crack anything, he cracked my lower back and my neck.  I was lucky not to become paralyzed!  I was so much worse after this "treatment" that I couldn't drive or do anything for a week.
I'm not getting any more spinal injections right now because the last one didn't work.  I'm getting run through all the muscle relaxants and fibromyalgia drugs like a lab animal, but they haven't helped either.  Ambien helps getting to sleep, but I've found nothing but tramadol for pain to which I haven't developed a tolerance or that doesn't cause horrible nausea or stomach pain. 
It's depressing to go on for years with worsening pain and just keep on running around the hamster cage trying one thing after another.  Anti-depressants don't help either.
Aahhh!  Just taking another deep breath before going on .... and on.  Grandma used to say, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 12/13/2010 1:13 PM (GMT -6)   
just wanted to say welcome to our family here, sure wish it was under better
circumstances than chronic pain...I've had not much luck with steroid injections,
but I do find a moist heating pad to help, and hope you can get a low pain days soon...
healing hugz
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc (Lower Lumbar S1-L3 and Cervical C5,C6, C8 and T1), Fibromyalgia, Gerd,
Enlarged Pituitary Gland, Sjogren's, Ocular Migraines, mild carpel tunnel, ect.... "Would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...


Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 12/13/2010 9:33 PM (GMT -6)   
As I have found with this site, the people are great. What a wealth of information, and excellent advice. So far knock on wood I get around 6 months of relief with the cervical blocks so far.

For those of you who are curious about my pain management doctor, here is the link to his site where you can read up on what he has been involved with. http://www.advancedpaincenters.org/

I do not know how far he is with the pelvic pain treatment and becoming published in the US, but he is always on the news. I know for my case he is doing radiofrequency nerve ablation, I have had both thermal and pulsed versions. With those procedures I have had anywhere from a year and a half of pain relief, or a year, which in the life of a pain patient is awesome. I am one of the lucky ones that this procedure works to control the pain for a longer term. My last RFNA procedure was in July 10 and I am still pain free there (lower left quadrant). It took me some time to submit to this procedure because the sound of it scared the buggers out of me. But I went ahead and let them do the qualifying blocks, then the RFNA.

I will be sticking around because I like this site, and I find it comforting to comfort others.

Hypothyroid, Chronic Pain associated with Abdominal Adhesions(ARD)/Nerve Damage, Multiple Herniated Disks in Cervical Spine, Anxiety, High Cholesterol, GERD, Diverticulosis, Carpul Tunnel, Abnormal EKG(past mild heart attack?). Surgeries: Hysterectomy, Gallbladder Removed, Bladder Sling, Sinus.

Screaming Eagle
Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 12/14/2010 11:02 AM (GMT -6)   


    Hello REDSAM!

            Welcome to the forum! You have had many good replies here to your post, and the only thing I'm going to add is what my Dr says about cutting edge Procedures. He says he will let other Dr's take the chance on their Patients and not with his. When he sees a tried and proven method, then he will use those methods accordingly.

     I have had both Epidural's and surgery for my back. I also have done PT, with no success. The epi's worked on my upper back (neck area) and did not for my lumbar region. If they worked for you before than I would recomend getting them. Surgery should be a last resort, unless a delay would cause further unrepairable damage to the nerves and or spinal cord. Its a tough decision to make, and I would certianly get a second opinion when looking at surgery. There are no guarentees with the outcome, and many a patient will live in some sort of pain the rest of their lives. It depends on several things, and none of which we can put a finger on.

     Please do let us know how things turn out for you.

         Take care,

      SE wink


Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 12/15/2010 9:02 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks SE! I like it here. I find it therauputic to offer hugs and offer what experience I can. When I first found this doctor, I came from a PM group that all they wanted to do was write scripts and that was it. This doctor came recommended for his research and innovative solutions. So I made the switch. The new doctor never judged me, and he validated my condition, and did not promise a cure. When they wanted me to try blocks in order to stave off medication increases after pt failed, I was scared. I did not have good experience with epidurals when I delivered my kids. When I got relief with the test blocks, they wanted me to move to the next level... The RFNA. I got nervous because it seemed scary to severe the nerve and break the signal, Hmmm? I tried it figuring what did I have to loose if it didn't work, then we try something different. I am glad I got the chance. Of all the doc's I have had, he is a keeper. He is very inspirational and has excellent medical etiquitte. We have had many discussions about his works, and I find it facinating. He even wrote a heart healthy book for kids, with his 8 year old son. He is more than a Doctor, he is an advocate for those in pain and has gone to capital hill to help move forward various bills for more funding and to have pain recognized as a valid condition. Enough of my rambling...LOL
Hypothyroid, Chronic Pain associated with Abdominal Adhesions(ARD)/Nerve Damage, Multiple Herniated Disks in Cervical Spine, Anxiety, High Cholesterol, GERD, Diverticulosis, Carpul Tunnel, Abnormal EKG(past mild heart attack?). Surgeries: Hysterectomy, Gallbladder Removed, Bladder Sling, Sinus.
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