As most of my readers know I suffer from chronic back pain after four previous spinal fusion surgeries only alleviated the pain for a matter of years before it came back.
Nowadays spinal fusion is not used as the first choice for prolapsed discs with pain management being the first treatment and only if nerves are compressed is it used as another option.
The problem with spinal fusion especially if you have more than one surgery is the pressure it puts on the disc below and above your fusion.
Another condition which you can also suffer from after any type of surgery is Myofascial Pain Syndrome which is a chronic painful muscle disorder and is common if you have experienced a muscle injury. Over time these myofascial restrictions can lead to poor biomechanics, altered structural alignment, compromised blood supply and pain. Other causes of myofascial pain are injuries to an intervertebral disc, general fatigue, repetitive motions, and some medical conditions.
It is characterised by the myofascial trigger points and the symptoms include persistent or worsening pain, deep and aching muscle pain, tender knots located in the muscles and pain after exercise or sporting activity.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is the name given to pain caused by trigger points and fascia (connective tissue) adhesions in the body, usually in muscle tissue, and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.
Myo = muscle
Fascia = the main connective tissue in the body
Release = to let go, ease pressure
Treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, pain killers, physical therapy, stretching, massage therapy and trigger point injections.
A trigger point injection is either a cortisone injection or dry needling. Pain relief is quick and helps in continuing physical therapy. Trigger point injections can also be used for people suffering from degenerative disc disease.
Understanding the cause of your pain is an important step to finding an effective solution. It may involve a series of sessions and an at home program to keep the area strong.
Disc pain can come from a disc bulge or prolapse but you can also get myofascial pain which could be treated conservatively instead of surgery. Fibromyalgia patients can also suffer from myofascial pain. According to history, Sir William Gowers introduced the term fibrositis for a common, but idiopathic, localized form of muscular rheumatism that is now recognised as myofascial pain syndrome in 1904. And, despite the intervening years, it still constitutes the largest group of unrecognised and undertreated acute and chronic pain problems. Some people (like myself) have also been told they could have Fibromyalgia, previously named ‘fibrositis’.
My neck and arm pain have been giving me a lot of problems since last summer and after extensive tests, MRI’s, ct scans and more it was decided that a nerve block would help with the pain. There is never any guarantee with any injection but they hope to give the patient a few months of pain relief.
Nerve block injections into your neck for a disc bulge can be quite dangerous as they are quite tricky to do and they go through the front of your neck. I had this injection about six weeks ago. It’s not a very nice injection (if any are) but I knew the pain consultant had hit the spot and soon felt total relief. Unfortunately, it was short lived and only gave me pain relief for a few weeks. Not all the pain has come back but most of it as did the pins and needles.
I then had another appointment at the pain clinic and after looking at my MRI’s etc I was given a quick check where my pain consultant felt that the pain I now have could well be myofascial and not from the bulging disc so he has booked me in for a series of steroid injections in my shoulders.
I guess with any spinal pain after you have had all the tests it’s then worth trying alternative treatments well before you resort to surgery which is something I have always said I would avoid having.