About Me

My photo
I am a 24 year old woman who has been battling chronic back and neck pain for the past six years. I am writing this blog to help others and to educate others about Peripheral Nerve Field Stimulation (PNFS) which is a new application for Neuromodulation technology that treats pain. My trial PNFS implant is scheduled for Monday, July 6th, 2009 and the final surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21st, 2009. I will be documenting my journey through the process. _____________________________________

Monday, June 29, 2009

* The "Million Dollar Work-Up"

After realizing this was not something that was going to go away I made an appointment with one of the only Orthopedic Surgeon's in my small college town. Here are all of the tests/procedures I had done in chronological order.

Note: I left out all of the medication changes because that would make the list FAR FAR too long. In a nutshell I have been on everything from the norm pain meds, muscle relaxants, to Alzheimer's and seizure medication. If you have any specific questions just send me a message.

***BEWARE*** If you are easily bored you may want to skip :) I just know that when I would do research about my condition I wished I knew what the Doctors were doing for other people like me.

Test / Treatment

  1. Test - MRI: MRI of C-Spine with contrast; RESULT - Non-specific straightening of cervical spine probably due to muscle spasms and micro fractures of the lower cervical vertebrae; RESPONSE - No surgical intervention. Sent for 2 months of Physical therapy.
  2. Physical Therapy: Went for 2 months. Treatments included modalities, massage, and strengthening exercises; RESULT - No improvement. RESPONSE - TENS Unit provided and Pain Management Recommended.
  3. Pain Management - Medication: Muscle relaxers and Pain medication prescribed; RESULT - Some improvement with medication but continued pain with no improvement; RESPONSE - Trigger Point Injections
  4. Pain Management - Trigger Point Injections: Trigger point injections (steroid/ lidocane mixture) in an average of 10 locations in upper back and neck. Continued treatment for 4 months 2 X per month ; RESULT - No significant improvement; RESPONSE - Epidural Steroid Injections.
  5. Pain Management - Epidural Steroid Injections: ESI performed at C-7 / C8; RESULT - No improvement at all; RESPONSE - Another round of ESI.
  6. Pain Management - Epidural Steroid Injections (2): ESI performed at C7 / C8; RESULT - No improvement at all; RESPONSE - No recommendation so I found a new pain management specialist.
  7. Test - Pain Management - Medial Branch Block: Medial Branch Block at C3-C7 performed; RESULT - Temporary relief (2 days); RESPONSE - Rhizotomy should be performed.
  8. Pain Management - Rhizotomy 1: Rhizotomy performed at C5 - C7; RESULT - No improvement; RESPONSE - Electromyography (EMG) suggested.
  9. Test - Electromyography (EMG): {A needle electrode is inserted through the skin into the muscle tissue. The electrical activity of the muscle is studied to indicate if there is some nerve and/or muscle damage.} RESULT - No problems detected; RESPONSE - Discogram suggested.
  10. Test - Discogram: {While under mild sedation, radiographic dye is injected into intervertebral discs under fluoroscopic guidance. You will be awakened and asked if you feel your usual pain. If you do feel pain the disc is likely the problem. If not this is not the cause.} RESULT - Pain is not a result of the disc; RESPONSE - Physical therapy round two.
  11. Physical Therapy: Primarily modalities; RESULT - No improvement; RESPONSE - I had to move Doctors since I was graduating from college and moving home. The new Doctor wanted to do another Rhizotomy.
  12. Pain Management - Rhizotomy 2: Levels C6 - T3; RESULT: Relief in the intrascapular area for approx 2 months but post procedural pain was so long in duration that I did not feel it was worthwhile; RESPONSE: I decided to try other measures and started Chiropractic care.
  13. Chiropractor: Chiropractor suggested I come in 3 X per week for 2 months; RESULT: I kept going for almost 6 months on the same schedule and I was still not where the Chiro wanted me to be. I ended up in much more pain than I was in in the first place; RESPONSE - Chiro felt something more serious was going on and sent me in for MRI of C-Spine and T-Spine.
  14. Test - MRI: C-Spine and T-Spine; RESULT: Same as first MRI; RESPONSE: Stopped Chiropractic care and went back in to Pain Management who suggested another round of Physical Therapy.
  15. Pain Management - Physical Therapy: Went 2 X week for 3 months for very controlled strengthening exercises and trigger point therapy; RESULT: Some good short lived relief. Insurance wouldn't cover any more time and I eventually went back to the old me; RESPONSE - Botox Injections.
  16. Pain Management - Botox Injections: Botox injections in shoulders for spasticity; RESULT - No muscle relaxation. RESPONSE - Rhizotomy
  17. Pain Management - Rhizotomy 3: Levels C6 - T3; RESULT: Relief in the intrascapular area for approx 2 months No relief in shoulders; RESPONSE: Rhizotomy C3-C7 only.
  18. Pain Management - Rhizotomy 4: Levels C3-C7; RESULT - No help!; RESPONSE -

@$%!!@$ @&$!

This is where I went crazy.... My breaking point that got me where I am today. I will continue in the next post. I'm spent!!

* The accident

I want to start out by sharing some of my medical history and explain how I got where I am today.

When I was 19 years old a reckless driver ran through red light and left me head on in his path. I suffered from severe whiplash and later discovered I had fractured several vertebrae. The doctors told me that in a few months the pain would subside.. they were wrong.

It first felt like a very stiff neck. I followed the Doctor's orders and wore the soft neck brace and took my muscle relaxers for a month. After the neck brace came off I was still in severe pain. I began complaining constantly, and it wasn't until my roommate brought it to my attention that I realized this was a serious problem that was not going away. The muscle spasms in between my shoulder blades were relentless. I had never experienced anything like it.