If you have been following my blog for a while, you have heard me talk about my back and neck pain before. It is unexplained pain that I have been dealing with for the last 4 and a half years (yes, I am counting). It all started back when I was in grad school, but there was no major incident that occurred to cause the intense pain so doctors have been at a loss over the years about what to do since that can’t pinpoint the cause. I haven’t done an update in quite a while so I decided today is the day.
I have seen over 30 doctors, have had multiple MRI’s and xrays and blood tests… most of which have come back with no answers at all to explain the kind of pain I am in. That is, until the last six months. Back in December, I was prescribed a steroid pack (and antibiotics) for a never ending ear infection and the steroids actually helped my back pain quite a bit. Once I informed my doctor, she immediately wanted to run some blood tests to test for inflammatory diseases. All of the tests were normal expect one that showed a positive result for an inflammatory disease. More in depth testing has to be done because apparently there are a lot of false positives with this testing. So, I am still waiting to hear back from further testing to figure out how to proceed with this lead.
In the mean time, I started seeing a specialist to get injections to help with the pain. There are a ton of different options out there so he wanted me to get an updated MRI so we could decide which injection would hopefully best help my pain levels. My last MRI was about 3 years ago and it showed nothing… no issues at all that would contribute to the pain I was feeling. Well this time around was a little bit different. My MRI showed that a couple of my discs were degenerating, I have a lack of a curve in my neck, I have a narrowing of discs, which could be pushing on my nerves. Oh and then he informed me that I have thoracic scoliosis. Awesome.
After this news I was pretty bummed out. I was grateful to have received some answers to what could be causing my pain, but unfortunately there is not too much that can be done in terms of correcting these problems. My doctor suggested an Epidural Steroid Injection to block the spinal nerve root and reduce inflammation around the nerve root to hopefully relieve some of the pain. I have had a little success with trigger point injections and have had a facet injection in the past that helped for a little while so I was down to try anything at this point. At this time my pain was at an all time high so I was eager to try something new that could possibly help.
I got the injection on February 13th and have been feeling a little better. The procedure itself was easy and quick. They give you a shot to numb the area so I didn’t feel much at all. I was even able to go into work right afterwards with no issues so that was nice. After the numbing medication wore off, the pain was back since the steroid can take a couple weeks to kick in. I started noticing some relief a few days ago and my back pain has not been near as intense as it usually is since receiving the injection. It is hard to tell exactly what is making my back feel better because I am on a low dosage of an oral steroid too and I just started a new medication that helps to block nerve pain. It could be a combination of all of the new things or it could be just one of them. I am just hoping that the injection provides pain relief for at least a few months because the last major injection I received (facet injection) only provided me with pain relief for a week. Although it was so nice to be out of pain for a week, it is way too expensive to repeat for only a week of relief. I am able to get up to 3 epidural spinal injections per year so I am hoping to repeat this procedure in a couple of months if the relief lasts.
I just wanted to update you all on where my back and neck pain stands since I get questions about it all the time. I really appreciate all of the concern and sweet comments. Living in constant pain is something I never thought I would have to deal with, especially at such a young age. I think I have come to manage my pain pretty well and still remain positive despite how frustrating it can be every day. I refuse to let my pain control my life, but I can easily see how chronic pain can take over your life (social life, relationships, work, etc.). I think being proactive is the most important thing you can do when in constant pain. All the tests, doctor visits, and medication trials can get overwhelming and exhausting, but it is so important not to give up and keep trying to get to the bottom of it. I have been stretching daily, being very active, and taking epsom salt baths a few times a week to help my muscles and to help relax. Stress definitely makes the pain worse so I have been very conscious about reducing my stress and making sure I incorporate stress relieving activities into my daily life.
I will continue to keep on keeping on and I know I will get to the bottom of the pain eventually. Just know that if you are struggling with chronic pain, I completely get it and I am hear to listen if you need to talk. Chronic pain can be such an isolating experience that others don’t fully understand, but having a support system is key. I am very fortunate to have the most amazing and supportive husband (and family), but I know there are many others that do not have that support.
Make today a great one!!!
- Have you ever/do you currently deal with chronic pain?
- Ever have a health issue that you couldn’t get to the bottom of?
- What are some ways you take care of your health daily?