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PROS AND CONS OF SPINAL INJECTIONS FOR PAIN?..

As I am sure my readers know I have had several different types of spinal injections from epidurals to facet joint injections and even a life-threatening episode with one particular injection. But what are the pros and the cons of these types of injections which have given you time-limited pain relief?

The facet joint injection provides important information for your doctor and can also give you pain relief. Why do I have to have an injection in the facet joint? The procedure is designed to prove if the facet joint is causing your pain by placing a temporary medication to reduce discomfort in the joint.

The pros are that it provides a direct management for joint pain and inflammation. It provides faster pain relief and relieves moderate to severe pain. Steroid injections also provide faster pain relief than oral forms of anti-inflammatory drugs. Joint injections allow the drug to be absorbed in the blood stream faster than oral medications. Making pain receptors less sensitive, in turn sending fewer pain signals through the nerves

There are no stitches or open wounds to deal with, and because of this, you have an extremely small risk of infection. Overall, facet joint injections are considered a very safe treatment.

You may get between three weeks and three months’ pain relief from a steroid joint injection, though this varies. You can have the injections every three months if you need them. Generally, it’s best not to have more than four steroid joint injections in a year into any one joint. This is because there’s a chance any more could damage your joint.

The waiting list on the NHS for any spinal injections is long but having them done privately is not cheap. It varies across the UK from £1,200 in the far north to £2,043 in the south.

The cons are that steroids have various side-effects. Age can also become a factor with facet joint injections. As you age, your facet joint becomes more damaged. This makes the injection more technically difficult because the joint is too small and maybe tighter. You may also grow small bones called osteophytes, which you do not normally see on an X-ray.

You could have an allergic reaction or cause bleeding although this is usually only a risk with patients who are on blood thinners.

Minor infections occur in less than 1% to 2% of all injections. Severe infections are rare, occurring in 0.1% to 0.01% of injections.

You could get discomfort at the point of the injection or worsening of pain symptoms. And while very rare, damage to the spinal cord or spinal nerves can occur from direct trauma from the needle, or secondarily from infection, bleeding resulting in compression, or injection into an artery causing blockage.

Have you had any spinal injections and if so how long did the pain relief last? I would love to hear from anyone who has had this treatment either on the NHS or privately as I am trying to get as much information as possible to write a much bigger article on it.

For me personally I enjoy every second of my pain free time after my injections and would not hesitate accepting any being offered to me.

Source: Northampton Chiropractor, Spine Health BUPA Private Health

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NERVE ROOT BLOCK INJECTION FOR BACK PAIN…

The term nerve root block is one that many people find quite daunting and it sounds a very dramatic procedure.

However, it is a very safe and routine procedure to help manage/diagnose chronic pain conditions which are associated with nerve roots.

The injection is like many others I have written on and is first a local anaesthetic that is injected along with a steroid.

Because there is a local anaesthetic in the injection, the nerve will immediately be numbed. This then acts as a confirmation that the pain is actually being caused by a specific nerve and it will provide the patient with pain relief.

The steroid is also used to try and reduce inflammation that often occurs in the area near the nerve root and the discs in your back. Reducing this inflammation can actually provide relatively long term relief from pain, because the pain itself can be caused simply by this inflammation.

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DEALING WITH DEPRESSION WITH CHRONIC PAIN …

Depression is quite common with people suffering from chronic pain. I mean who wouldn’t feel a bit low when trying to cope with constant pain but there is help out there to deal with this type of depression. Research shows that some of these antidepressants may help with some kinds of long-lasting pain.

Web MD state that Doctors don’t know exactly why antidepressants help with pain. They may affect chemicals in your spinal cord — you may hear them called neurotransmitters — that send pain signals to your brain. 

It’s important to note that antidepressantsdon’t work on pain right away. It can be a week or so before you feel any better. In fact, you may not get their full effect for several weeks.

After my second spinal surgery I was put on a very low dose of an antidepressant which I took over a period of 20+years. I am still on this antidepressant ( Prozac) even though over the many years I haven taken it there have been numerous articles on the pros and cons of taking it for so long. In fact, only last year the Professor of Medicine whom I call my Medicine Man who I see on a regular basis, suggested that maybe I should stop taking it.

I started with reducing it to one every other day and had no ill effects except that I wasn’t feeling as perky as I usually am. I put it down to the fact that at that time last year I ways constantly going back and forth to stay at my Dads so that I could go and be with him in hospital. He was in three months and my sister and I would do three week shifts of going in for most of the day over a period of three weeks then coming home for a rest. Sadly Dad passed away in hospital by which stage I had already started increasing my drug to nearly what I had been on before as I had an even bigger reason for feeling low.

On the NHS website they say that even though a type of antidepressant called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) weren’t originally designed to be painkillers, there’s evidence to suggest they’re effective in treating chronic (long-term) nerve pain in some people.

Chronic nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is caused by nerve damage or other problems with the nerves, and is often unresponsive to regular painkillers, such as paracetamol.

Amitriptyline is a TCA that’s usually used to treat neuropathic pain. I also take this for my neuropathic pain and it also helps me to sleep better.

We are all different and try to deal with chronic pain, stress and even loss in different ways but for me personally I felt this one little pill I took every morning worked for me. When I went back for my review with my Medicine Man I told him what I had been through and said I felt for me personally it was one drug I would like to continue taking indefinitely if he felt that was safe. He said that every single person will have different views and reactions to different types of antidepressants but if I had found one that I truly felt helped me ‘feel good’ every day no matter what I was going through then he was happy for me to take it indefinitely.

I know there are lots and lots of alternative things to try for any type of depression from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Group Therapy and much more but I do feel that some people are nervous of taking medication on a long term basis but if that works for you, then why not.

Try everything that is available to you and when you find something that works for you then stick with it even it is taking a daily dose of medication. Feeling low and depressed is awful and most people in chronic pain must feel that at some stage but life really is to short to feel that way on a daily basis so why not try something just for you to help you feel better on the outside even if the pain on the inside is still there.

Some great websites and organisations that can help with chronic pain and depression are Away With Pain.

BLB Solicitors have a long list with links to UK support and help with depression from pain. The NHS also has details on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the UK and how to find a therapist.