A BIG “THANK YOU” TO MY AMAZING PAIN CONSULTANT AT CIRCLE NOTTINGHAM HOSPITAL…

Lee from The Fibro Blogger Directory wrote a post on Facebook asking us all to think about writing a thank you post to a doctor or health person that has looked after us.

I knew straight away that I wanted to thank my Pain Consultant a Dr.Gregory Hobbs at Circle Nottingham Hospital, Queens Medical, Nottingham.

Dr. Hobbs has been looking after me for over 10 years now. I was sent to see him after a previous injection I’d had went a bit wrong and I needed resuscitating. It left me quite traumatised and anxious about having any further injections but Dr. Hobbs slowly introduced me initially to acupuncture and dry needling, and then onto trigger point injections and then facet joint injections to name a few. All to help ease my pain.

Whenever I had a flare up he would fit me in and would always go above and beyond to find a way to help calm things down. In all the years he has treated me I have had the same great care and concern from him and his team at Circle Nottingham Hospital.

I saw him only a couple of weeks ago for some more injections and told him that I would soon be moving to Brighton, a long way from Nottingham and I was obviously quite anxious about who I would see and what sort of treatment they will offer me. He soon wrote down the name of a pain consultant in Brighton whom he said would give me the same sort of treatments he gives me.

Thank you once again to the amazing NHS, Dr. Hobbs and his team at Circle Nottingham Hospital.

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CERVICAL DISC PROTRUSION AND ARTHRITIS…

After the brilliant guest post from Neil Velleman on ‘All you need to know about a slipped discI found myself being diagnosed with yet another disc problem in my cervical spine.

For the last six months, I have been having constant pain going down my arm from my neck as well as pins and needles down to my little finger.  Initially, we thought it may have been my ulnar nerve again. I say ‘again’ as I had surgery last year for a trapped ulnar nerve which was a total success but they said it can come back even after surgery.

After a 2 hour consultation with a physiotherapist, it was decided that it could be one of two things. Either the ulnar nerve or a disc in my cervical spine so the first port of call was a nerve conduction test.

The nerve conduction test showed no problem with the ulnar nerve so I was then sent to have an MRI scan. Those results have shown that I have another disc bulge which is compressing a nerve and giving me the pins and needles and pain and it also showed that I have arthritis in that area.

Neil Velleman explained that ‘the spinal discs act as shock absorbers and through a variety of causes, including injury, poor posture and general “wear and tear” (meaning gradual deterioration), the walls of the disc can become weaker. If the centre of the disc pushes out, this can cause the disc wall to bulge and that can be when pain strikes!’

Mine is definitely in the ‘wear and tear’ category as I have had two previous surgeries on the C3/4 area of my spine which has meant the disc below it has had to do all the work. I have now been told I will need to see a consultant about the sort of treatment they can give me for the pain which could be IDD Therapy, Injections, Manual Therapy or Surgery.

Back in 1996 when I had my second surgery on the C3/4 discs they gave me traction first but IDD Therapy seems to have taken over from that method but I shall just have to wait and see what they suggest.

The worst pain is doing the simplest of things like cleaning my teeth or drying my hair so I am just hoping an appointment comes through sooner rather than later.

WHAT IS THE TRUE COST OF FACET JOINT INJECTIONS?…

Today I had my third lot of facet joint injections on the NHS at the Circle Nottingham Hospital. For me personally these injections (I have one in both sides of my spine) have been the most effective pain relief I have ever had.

For the first time in many years I have been back in control of my pain and I had reduced my Tramadol right down to taking it ‘only‘ on my bad days instead of taking it on slow release. While slowly cutting down on my Tramadol I started to feel quite different in myself without the awful side effects of the opioids.

Painkiller addiction is an increasing problem in our society, and it’s certainly receiving more media attention than ever before. There’s a lack of understanding about the dangers of prescription painkillers—opioid drugs that are both extremely powerful and addictive. Long-term addiction is usually preceded by tolerance to the drug, which means you feel as though you need a regular supply of them.

The reason I wanted to cut down on my Tramadol was to prepare myself for my Cubital Tunnel Operation. A few years ago I was unexpectedly faced with awful pain after foot surgery and was told I could not have any more pain relief due to what I was already taking. Tramadol is routinely prescribed after major surgeries so I told myself if I ever needed surgery again I would make sure I had cut down on my medication prior to the surgery.

I have struggled over the last few weeks as my facet joint injections were due but they were put on hold for six weeks due to my elbow surgery so today could not have come soon enough. I’ve had the same compassionate pain consultant who has looked after me for a number of years and who has tried everything available to help me with my chronic pain.

Before I signed the consent form he informed me that due to the cost of facet joint injections they were being cut right back and may not be available in the future.  He assured me I would still be having some today and that he would put me down for another set in four months but pointed out that he would have to put a case together in order to hopefully get the all clear to carry on giving me these injections.

I was bitterly disappointed that there was a possibility of these being stopped. When I told my husband about it on our way home he told me to try and find out how much these would cost if we went privately to have them done.

I was quite shocked at what I found out which in our area were roughly about £1,145 – £1,500 (each) and I have two of these. I then realised that it’s not just the injection that I would be paying for as I need the use of the Xray department for these and so a radiologist is required, plus two nurses and of course my consultant.

It’s not until you encounter something like this that you appreciate just how lucky we are to have the availability of the NHS in the UK. We just arrive, have the treatment and follow their advice and hopefully get the benefit but you can see why they are now having to question who should be the ones that can have this treatment and who are the ones that cannot. I guess I will just have to hope that my case is one they sympathize with and continue letting me have them otherwise I guess I will be back on the opioid route again.

COULD YOU HAVE FBSS (FAILED BACK SURGERY SYNDROME)?…

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Failed back surgery syndrome (also called FBSS, or failed back syndrome) can occur in 10-40% of people who undergo spinal surgery.

Although it is not actually a syndrome, as such, as it is just a term for a number of factors to describe the pain some patients have even after having surgery.

There is actually nothing else like this term ‘failed’, as in ‘failed knee surgery syndrome’. Failed back surgery syndrome is completely on its own.

Some factors which can cause failed back surgery are scar tissue which can form around the incision site, or an infection can occur (which did in my case) or that simply the actual technicalities of the operation were not successful.

Surgical operations are usually performed for spinal decompression and spinal fusion using cages, bone graft, bars and screws (which I have) and if a patient continues to have pain after the procedure, then the condition is then called ‘failed back surgery syndrome‘.

In my case my first spinal surgery was a fusion done some 30 years ago which simply wore out and so had to be repeated. The second surgery included a cage, bone graft, bars and screws but this surgery ended with a bad infection. This has since be classed as a FBSS.

The only options they can offer me now is conservative treatments like the injections I have and pain medication. Having further spinal surgery in my case is not an option any more even though there are a lot more successful keyhole procedures available now. In fact with today’s knowledge and technology people can recover from spinal surgery in a matter of weeks which when I had mine was months or longer.

As a result of the FBSS and other issues I was then also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and sometimes I find it hard to decipher if my symptoms are FBSS related or Fibromyalgia related, as they can be so similar.

Although when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia it was not as well known as it is now, I still feel that there is an awful lot of help and knowledge available for Fibromyalgia but not for FBSS. 

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