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  • newly diagnosed with arthritis in neck back is painful too

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    Old 08-29-2008, 09:27 PM   #1
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    newly diagnosed with arthritis in neck back is painful too

    I have been seeing a pain doctor for what he said is cervical facet joint disease. I have had two steriod injections into my facet joints. They cost me $500.00 out of pocket after insurance pays the other $18,000.00. The first one worked last year but the last one in July didn't work at all. Now I am left with a bill for no relief. He wants to give me a medial branch block next. He is afraid that I am heading down a bad road with the norco that I take (only 3 at the most...on really bad days). So I decided to get another opinion with an orthopedic surgeon. He reviewed my xrays of my spine, and my thoracic back (why they didn't do lumbar, I don't know). He said I have some degenerative disc disease in my neck, bone spurs and arthritis. Besides mild scoliosis, he doesn't see anything wrong with my back. In the past six months, my back has started killing me. It travels from my neck down to my tail bone (of which I fractured 2 months ago by falling) and the pain spreads out from armpit to armpit and the lower back is spasming and sharp.

    Since he said my back looked fine (without the lumbar available) and I asked him why it was hurting then, he said probably from my neck. He told me to exercise (which is very difficult without norco) to keep the blood flowing to the spine and try not to think about it too much. I got the feeling like he didn't believe me when I said it was extremely painful. He thought the injections were fine to get if I wanted, but they won't do anything permanetly. I could get my neck fused but he wouldn't do that unless I wasn't able to move etc...

    I have been trying everything. supplements, muscle relaxers, ibuprofen, xanax, ambien cr, yoga, physical therapy, exercise, stretching, yoga balls, posture pump, chiropractor, walking, mind relaxation tips etc... The only thing that makes the pain tolerable is the Norco. I can move and participate in my life when I am not hurting so much. Should it be hurting me this bad. I have a feeling there is something else going on like Fibromalygia or myofacial disease as a result of the neck arthritis/injections. Anyone with an opinion, please let me know. I feel like I am going crazy. Should I go to a Rheumy? I am so depressed, I have a 20 yr old mildly autistic son who also is a recovering childhood cancer patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant 11 yrs ago. He has many physical problems plus the autism. He needs me to be there for him all the time. When I am in pain, I lay on the bed with the heating pad. That doesn't help him at all. Which makes me even more depressed! Help!! Thank you for your help.


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    Old 08-30-2008, 07:09 AM   #2
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    Re: newly diagnosed with arthritis in neck back is painful too


    I'm sorry you're having all that pain, I know how awful it is. I need to ask you, though, did you only have x-rays done? Or have you ever had any MRI's or other tests done? I ask this because x-rays basically only show the bone and loss of space between bones, etc...but it cannot show any soft tissue problems. An MRI would probably be the best as it can detect alot more, such as disc herniations, cysts, soft tissue problems, etc. So if you've not yet had any MRI's, then you need to either ask your current doctor for one..or find another doctor. You can try a Rheumatologist, as they specialize in arthritis (of which there are many, many kinds), or a different PM or a different ortho.

    It's possible you could have problems in your lower back, but problems in the cervical spine can also cause pain & weakness in other areas, such as in the legs. And it definitely can cause pain & problems in your shoulders and/or down your arms & into your hands. And of course there may be something else going on entirely, but a doctor would have to look into it.

    So I suggest to have an MRI done if you haven't yet and perhaps seek yet anohter opinion.

    Old 08-30-2008, 12:59 PM   #3
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    Re: newly diagnosed with arthritis in neck back is painful too

    The only other treatment I can find, besides injection or block, is radiofrequency neurotomy.

    None of them last more than a few months and none of them have been tested enough, specifically, for CFJD.

    You may want to check your region to find the best spinal center you can physically and financially make it to - look into teaching hospitals, universities, hospitals in big cities. Sometimes, especially with teaching hospitals, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the comparatively low cost. The less commercial a place is, the lower the $$.

    Maybe get evaluated by a neurosurgeon? With MRI or CAT scan, to make sure nothing is impinging on the spinal cord. (cervical stenosis)

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