Yesterday I went in hospital for a nerve block injection into my cervical spine where I have been having lots of problems since last June. Surgery had been talked about but then an injection was a preferred choice which is also used to diagnose the source of the pain. A cervical nerve block injection is where a steroid and local anaesthetic are injected into the nerve root. The medication can decrease inflammation in the nerve root and will often, but not always then reduce the pain.
The consultant uses a live X-ray image (fluoroscopy) to very carefully insert and guide the needle to the spinal nerve then a contrast dye is used to confirm the needle placement. Next, the medication is slowly injected, and the needle removed.
In 2001 I had a cervical trigger point injection done in a side room at the hospital and not in the X-Ray department. Unfortunately it went very wrong and I collapsed and had to be resuscitated. The memory lasted a long time and I did say I would never have one in my spine again.
Since then I have had many different types of injections from epidurals, trigger points and facet joint injections in my spine, but all in my lumber spine. I have to admit I was a little nervous before having this second cervical injection as I have never had a nerve block before.
I explained my fears to all who were looking after me yesterday and they could not have be more sympathetic and kind. But, my consultant did explain to me that he felt the injection should be placed in at the C8 level and not C6/7 as requested as he could clearly see from the CT and MRI scan that C6/7 was where my other metal work and fusions were. Trying to inject around the metal work would not work nor relieve the pain.
I must admit it did throw me at first but it all made complete sense as I have had two cervical fusions so the last one had to be at that level and C8 had to be where the disc was giving me all the problems. The minute I told him my symptoms he was certain it was that disc but he did explain to me it was not an easy one to access. It also carried quite high risks with it but he understood that I really did not want surgery which probably had higher risks involved with that also.
He really took his time and explained every detail along the way. I cannot say it was not uncomfortable because even with a local anaesthetic once the medication started hitting the nerve boy did I know about it.
Today I’m ‘extremely perky’ as my sister put it after a great sleep last night, no pins and needles, no pain when I did simple tasks like cleaning my teeth and drying my hair. As the day has gone on the pain has got easier and easier and it’s just ‘amazing .’
Before the consultant left me yesterday I asked him if the injection was a success how many could I have in a year. ‘None, as far as I’m concerned ‘, he said ‘It’s to tricky a procedure .’
I felt a bit despondent about his reply so when I got home I had a quick look on Google about the area I ‘d had the injection and soon realised why he said it. An article from Inside Radiology wrote ‘Accurate needle placement, high-resolution image guidance and skilled specialist doctors are essential to avoid the major complications that arise as a result of poor quality imaging.‘
Luckily this time I had the treatment done in the right environment with a great consultant.