September 15, 2018

Trigger Point Injections

Hello friends, I hope your weekend is off to a great start. If you follow me on IG stories, then you know I've been talking a lot about CBD lately. So much so, that starting in less then two weeks my first monthly CBD product highlight segment will go live! Get excited you guys, but I digress... In order for me to go forward in sharing my pain management journey, we must first go back. In the past, I have shared posts about my second cervical fusion and also when I got cortisone injections so why not tell you about trigger point injections as well? I wish more people would have shared their experiences with me before I had this done. Knowledge is power, so make sure you research what it is that your doctor has recommended you doing. We get in the mindset that our doctors know best, and in some cases they do, but most times it's important we do research and make sure the procedures are for us. Or at least have a high success rate. 

For those of you that are new to my blog, I have spinal stenosis and have had two cervical fusions to date. I currently have arthritis above and below the surgery sites and a titanium rod with six screws in my neck. Honestly, it feels like I have a super heavy head and like someone is giving me constant "Indian burn" (for lack of a better description) across my back, shoulders, and neck at all times. My muscles on my shoulders and the side of my neck and on the base of my head are always spasming and super tight/full of knots. I get a lot of headaches and migraines and am up most of the night in pain. For the past seven years, I wake up in the morning at a pain level 4-5 and if I can fall asleep at a pain level 7 then it's a good day.  In November I underwent trigger point injections to try to improve this daily pain level. So right out of the gate I must tell you, trigger point injections are not my favorite! Really though, my pain management specialist told me I'm not a good candidate for these going forward. So here's what happened to me and a bit about the procedure. 

So essentially it's dry needling which although is painful and minorally traumatizing (so drama, I know), it's quick and you can leave less then 90 minutes after you arrive. You check into the outpatient center and they have you put a gown on, back open. Once you are changed, they let you sit in a room with other patients waiting for whatever outpatient procedure they are having done. My hubby took the above photo five minutes before I got called in the room to begin. I was definitely nervous, but hopeful at this point. No sedatives, no nothing, just good old fashion dry needling. They then bring you into the procedure room where you lay face down on a bed. There were 4 people in the room with me, my pain management doctor, the nurse who was working the ultrasound machine, and two assistants...who gently held my legs so I didn't move while they were working.

First, the doctor pushed around to find  my most painful knots and stiff spots on my back and neck. When you yell out in pain, he then marks each "worst spot" with an X. Then, my back and neck were sterilized and cleaned. Next up, using the ultrasound machine at each X, they located the problem areas. This was the not so fun part. Using a needle that is filled with numbing medicine as well as steroids, with no sedation each injection is worse then the next. Imagine if you will a really sore spot on our neck. It hurts when your turn your head, it really hurts when someone touches it. Now imagine someone putting a needle into that spot, moving it around and slowing injecting something that burns unlike anything you have felt before. That's dry needling. This was repeated eight times. I cried the entire time, hence why two nurses help hold my legs still. I like to think I have a high pain threshold, but you put needles in the sides of my upper neck and you will see tears! On the pro's side, it is quick. I was out of the room in 30 minutes and left sitting in that room where my hubby was waiting thinking to myself "what the hell did I just pay to have done to me?". To be fair, my blood pressure went low and they had to put wet rags on me....I didn't make it easy or quick for them either. 

I was told to take it easy for 24-48 hours. I came home and went strait to the loft couch where I stayed the rest of that afternoon and night. I have to admit, that first night was great! Literally, for the first time in years, I felt no neck pain, none! I was like this for hours after the procedure and it was truly bliss. Still not worth going through the dry needling, but really, really good. Then, the next day and following two weeks happened. 

Here is how my doctor explained what happened to me at my follow up appointment. Essentially, when each of my "worst spots" was given the injection, the rest of the surrounding muscles didn't know what to do. So, I had non-stop muscle spasms in new areas, muscle cramping all over my upper back and neck, increased pain (which meant taking increased pain meds & muscle relaxers), new pain that had me wishing for my old pain that I knew how to control, and both arms felt like they were asleep. Not the tingling asleep that passes, but the hurt asleep that lasted for weeks with no relief. So, needless to say, I will not be getting more trigger point injections any time soon! That said, I have heard from a few people that this procedure has worked for them. More power to you if you fall in this category! I feel like if you put yourself though this, you should have some positive results. I guess my positive results were that first night of numbness and wishing for my old pain. You never know how good you have it until it gets worse I guess! ;) 

It was around this time that I took a look at the prescriptions that I was taking on a daily basis and had been for years and years. I didn't like what I saw. I didn't see this being OK taking daily pills like this long term. What would my health be like 10 years from now? What about 20 years from now? No one wanted to reduce or change my meds, just add more. So, it was time to take control and start a long path to hopefully a better, more healthy future.  More on my chronic pain journey next week!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today, I hope you make it a great day! xoxo

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