For the last 3 years or so I have been dealing with pain and discomfort in my neck area that would eventually lead to a headache. I am not real positive when it started, but at the time I would take a few Advils and be fine. My initial concern was the headaches, they would all start off with a feeling like my neck needed to be popped. If I could not relieve that feeling, then it would eventually lead to a headache. Well, that got to be several times a week at one point. After a few months I asked the doctor about it and we tried some muscle relaxers. That really didn’t help much.
After about a year I decided to try a chiropractor. The overall pain and discomfort was not that bad, but what was bothering me was that it was pretty persistent. The Chiropractor did an X-ray and told me I had a compressed disc in my neck. So, we started treatment for that. Initially it was 3 times a week, a decompression session (pulling my neck) and then an adjustment. This did help cut down on the number of episodes I was having and we were mainly treating for the headaches themselves. Yes the neck was causing the headaches, but what was bothering me the most was the headache and not the neck. After several months of this therapy I did get down to having episodes once a week sometimes twice week. But it never got better than that and the chiropractor was getting expensive.
Next, at the suggestion of a friend, I decided to try physical therapy. I got a referral from my doctor and started the therapy. Again initially I think it did help, but not really that much. I did learn some good exercises for my neck and the manual adjustments that the therapist were doing were a lot more comfortable than the chiropractor. The chiropractor would “yank” my head/neck, whereas the therapist would delicately set my neck and head in a certain position and then move or turn it and usually it would give out a loud “snap” and would relieve some of the pressure feeling.
About 2 months of physical therapy and still no real improvement. So I took a few months off from all that. Then I remembered a high school buddy that was a chiropractor in Edinburg. I figured he would give me straight forward advice, so I set up an appointment and gave it a go. He said if we didn’t see an improvement in a few weeks, then it probably was not going to work and he could refer me to a neurologist for evaluation. Well, it didn’t work and in fact a few times I think the adjustment gave me a headache.
So the next step was a neurologist. He ordered a neck and brain MRI (to rule out any issues inside my head). After the results of those, he told me I had 3 or 4 herniated discs in my neck, one being the worst and probably what was causing all my issues. He ordered an electrical test to see if there was any nerve damage. After going through that, which wasn’t that bad, but was pretty strange, he said the herniated disc was affecting my nerve and could be causing nerve damage. He wasn’t recommending surgery, but said that might be an option further down the road.
So I went back to the chiropractor to see what he thought and he urged me to see a pain management specialist. And if that doesn’t work out well or my condition gets worse, then he could refer me to a surgeon.
Last week I went to my pain management specialist appointment and they asked me all kinds of questions. Then there was the examination and more questions. In the end they recommended an epidural injection into my neck. It would be two medicines, one anesthetic and a steroid medicine. The anesthetic will initially relieve the pain, and the steroid will work to reduce the inflammation of the nerve. There is no set time on how long it will last, as that will vary, but hopefully it will relieve the inflammation and last a good while. If not it is a repeatable procedure. I will be getting the injection next week and hopefully I will get a reprieve from the pain and discomfort. And maybe finally I will get rid of this pain in the neck!