Severe Cervical Stenosis And Many Other Issues
Hello everyone! I have a spinal cord stimulator implanted for neck and right arm pain. A few months after the procedure, I begain developing severe left arm pain from the shoulder to my elbow, as well as additional neck pain. I've been getting cervidal epidural steroid injections for a few years now, usually every 3 months, but my last two have lasted less than 2 months, and the more recent one lasted about 1 month. I just received another Friday, which was only 2 months from the last one. Waiting for the injection about drove me out of my mind with pain. So far, I've achieved around 70% success in pain relief, but my pain management doc said of the pain returns quickly again, I will need a CT scan, which is what I was going to ask for anyway. Backing up to 2005, my MRI (pre-stimulator implant), showed severe degeneration and stenosis in 5 of the 7 cervical levels, as well as spinal curvature issues-the cervical spine is now curving in the wrong direction. Now, 5 years later, I'm guessing the problem has worsened significantly, because the pain has worsened so much. This last time waiting for the epidural, the pain did travel below my left elbow for the first time ever. My pain doc thinks a successful cervical surgery for me is about 0% due to the fact that I have very soft internal tissues that don't hold stitching well. I also have an intrathecal pain pump for chronic intractable lumbar back pain, and the catheter kept coming out of the spinal space. Finally, a neurosurgeon did a discectomy and was able to get the stitching to hold way deeper in-that solved the problem.
My biggest fear about possibly undergoing cervical surgery is the fear of having trouble swallowing afterwards. I have an unnaturally high fear of this, and I'm actually terrified of it. I've had many many surgical procedures on my lower back, and wasn't afraid of them at all. I guess the swallowing issue has kept me from even considering surgery, and yet maybe, just maybe, I could be helped some with it. I'm also concerned with limited movement, depending on the number of levels that need repairing. I'm just a mess right now, worrying about what the future holds for me, knowing that my neck is getting worse and worse over time,. The stimulator is just a "band-aid" type treatment. I did read recently, however, that Boston Scientific, the maker of my stim, has just approved a "splitter" and maybe I may end up trying that, if and when it's covered and approved, and hoping my pain doc can do the procedure. I guess I'd like to hear from others who may have the same-type symptoms, your treatments, outcome, etc. And, the swallowing issue, how have any of you coped with that? Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this lengthy post. I welcome any comments and/or suggestions. Take care, all! Paminpain