As my readers may know I was booked in for a cervical nerve block for my spinal stenosis pain.
The nerve conduction studies of my upper limb showed some radicular EMG ( electrical activity in muscle) changes relating to cervical spine C7/C8 and my MRI of my cervical spine showed worsening right C8 foraminal stenosis at C7/T1 from my previous MRI in 2020. The results showed no sign of any ulnar nerve compression or ulnar neuropathy.
I had discussed a number of options from conservative oral analgesia/cervical core muscle strengthening exercises, to a CT guided right C8 nerve root block injection or surgery in the form of a C7/T1 ACDF(Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) or right C7/foraminotomy (surgery to enlarge the area around one of the bones in my spinal column. The surgery relieves pressure on compressed nerves).
I decided on the CT guided C8 nerve root block and was booked to have it done last Thursday.
I was taken into the CT room and was met by my neuroradiologist who explained that a nerve root block is an injection, with local anaesthetic and steroid, around one of the nerves. This can reduce the pain that comes from that nerve but it is not a cure for the underlying problem. Even if the pain relief only lasts for a short time, it can hopefully demonstrate where the pain is coming from and longer lasting treatments can then be planned.
However, he said, there are also risks involved with having any procedure and with this procedure as many other injections there is a risk of experiencing worsening of the pain temporarily and may feel some tingling, clumsiness or even weakness to the affected limb. This weakness should
wear off in a couple hours and is due to the local anaesthetic. The steroid may occasionally cause facial flushing ( I always get this). Rare risks include bleeding/haematoma, infection, nerve injury and allergic reaction to medication used.
But there was one other risk which applys to cervical nerve root blocks. There is an extremely small risk (less than one in a thousand) of a severe stroke and in my neuroradiologists opinion this was quite a high risk for me as I already have so much metal work in my neck. When I asked him if he would have it he said ‘no’. With an answer like that I did not hesitate to ‘not’ sign the consent form and leave without haivng the injection done.
I was feeling quite flat on Thursday which I guess is obvius and he did say if the pain got really bad we could maybe think about having a try another time but as far as I am concerned this will definitel be one injection that I will not go ahead with ever. I have had great success with nerve root blocks in my lumbar spine but even those are not working for long nowadays so its back to the pain killers and anything I can find to help ease the pain.