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Facet Rhizotomy
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Bentneck posted:
I have recently been told that I require a Facet Rhizotomy to alleviate the constant daily headaches and neck pain that I have suffered for over a year now. I suffered a fall at work over four years ago and had whiplash and was treated at that time and everything seemed to be fine until last May when all of a sudden, I started getting very painful spasms in my neck and daily headaches, some of which were at a Migraine level. I went to my GP who sent me for a series of tests, first I had and X-ray and the result showed nothing, next it was a CT scan and the result again was that nothing showed, lastly I had an MRI, which at this point I was beginning to feel as if I was crazy. Finally the results were in, positive, damage in the C3 - C5 cervical Facet joints, likely from an old injury, perhaps your whiplash the doctor proceeds to say. So off to the Neurologist I go, who basically confirms the doctor's diagnosis and sends me to a pain clinic where I start a series of diagnostic facet joint injections which then further confirms the final diagnosis. During all of this time I have also been trying many different cocktails of medications to try and rid me of the daily torture of pain and headache to no avail. Currently I am taking 200 mg of Topomax and 10 mg of Amitriptylinr which has put the migraines at bay, however the daily headaches continue as well as the neck spasms, albeit somewhat less frequent. I have been put on a 3 month waiting list for a consultation for the Rhizotomy and continue to struggle on a daily basis with falling deeper and deeper into depresion. I can no longer keep up with managing my household and to be honest, I am not very optomistic about the things that I have been reading about the outcome on having this procedure done and the fact that I am being told that there is nothing permanent that can be done for me. Any information that you can provide would be greatly appreciated and as you can see, I have plenty of time to research. :chagrin:
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annette_030 responded:
Did the facet joint injections stop all your headaches? If not, what is the point of the rhizotomy? If you are indeed having migraines, I would see a migraine specialist for a consult. While you are waiting for the rhizotomy, I would spend the time doing research to see how successful they really are in the treatment of headaches and neck pain. How do you tell a migraine from one of your daily headaches? Migraines are not just really bad headaches, they are a specific group of symptoms that are treated in a specific way. Are you taking any pain meds including over the counter things like tylenol, ibuprofen ,etc. on a daily basis? Taking pain meds of any kind more than three days a week can trigger chronic daily headaches called rebound headaches. I had horrible migraines about 4-5 days a week for several years and I can understand how hopeless you feel. It usually takes trying many different kinds of meds in various combinations for at least 3-4 weeks each to find the answer. It is a long, frustrating process but it does usually end up working. I also have really bad discs in my neck, I had one removed, it did nothing for the headaches or pain, but it saved the use of my hands. I used to use ice packs on my neck and the side of my head that hurt, that helped a lot. You may need to get treatment for the depression also. Take care, Annette
 
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nanahayla responded:
I wanted to write to you, I had a 3 level cervical fusion done 8 years ago. I also have Thorasic Facet syndrom which causes me to have neck spasms and horrible headaches. I went to a neurosurgeon and he began giving me Epideral Injections of a drug called Marcain. It works great! Also they give me Occipital Injections at the base of my skull to deaden the nerves that cause the headaches they work GREAT for about 2 months. Believe me when I tell you, that when you get the surgery, it is not the end of your problems. The surgeons like for you to believe that there is a cure, but there isn't your neck problems will have to be treated for years to come. But these new treatments will make your daily life much better. I hope some of this message will help you ,I know the Pain and depression you are going through.. Also I am treated with an anti depression medicene for the depression, this too makes life bearable may god bless you!
 
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cweinbl responded:
I had a facet rhyzotomy. It was agonizing and I had an increase in pain for several weeks. Plus, needles that large create their own fibrosis, (scar tissue).. Caveat Emptor!
 
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Bentneck responded:
Yes, the facet injections did stop the headaches, as they were diagnostic injections to discover which joints were causing the pain and headaches. The difference between a daily headache and a migraine is quite different, the daily headache is dull and achy, manageable, however the migraine is one sided, unbareable, nauseating and I can't take movement or light or noise. I have been taken off all pain meds i.e Advil, Tylenol products as daily and long term ingestion of these types of meds actually can attribute to headaches I found out like you said (rebound headaches), however I am taking the Topomax and which seem to be keeping the Migraines at bay for now. I am also taking anti depressants now and thank goodness I have a very large support system both at home and work. But I certainly like this forum, for some reason is seems to help talking to others who are going through or who have gone through the same struggles. I'll try the Ice thing, that's new :grin: Thanks
 
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Bentneck responded:
Thank you for your reply, I hear your message echoed time and time again, unfortunately this doesn't seem to be something that will be going away. The doctor's have already pretty much told me that this is a life long sentence and that the Rhizotomy is not guaranteed and that even if it does work, chances are the spasms and pain will return in 7 - 12 months from now at which time I'll need to get it done again!!! :angry: The thing I think that I hate about this the most is that prior to this starting, I was a happy go lucky person and it seems to have sucked the life right out of me and now has become my identity which sucks! :confused: I like you am taking antidepressants to try and ward off the sadness that overcomes me at the thoughts of what once was a healthy vibrant me to a person who now struggles to brush her hair without pain and put a fake smile on her face so that people don't feel sorry for her. In the meantime, I'll keep on plugging along, until I can hopfully come across something that works to some degree. Let's keep our fingers crossed and the zen coming. Thanks :grin:
 
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Bentneck responded:
Ouch!!!!!!!!!! Did you not have any sedation???? I am told that I will be sedated. What facet joint? Mine are Cervical. : :ooh: :
 
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annette_030 responded:
I tried so many different medication regimens when my migraines were at their worst. It did suck the life out of me, I can totally relate to what you are saying. I finally went on neurontin for my other chronic pain condition and between that and going through menopause my migraines are under much better control. I found a combination of several rescue drugs that I alternate when I have frequent headaches to avoid rebound headaches. From what I have learned over the years, they now seem to believe that there is a spectrum of chronic headaches that can be expressed by a long line with purely tension headaches on one end and purely migraines on the other end. People get a combination of symptoms that may indicate one headache is mainly a migraine and another is mainly a tension headache or the headaches may have symptoms of both and fall somewhere along the line. In the old days they said you had one or the other and used different treatments for each one. Now they seem to be leaning more towards trying the different meds to see if they work for each patient rather than only trying one class of meds depending on the type of headache you seem to have. When mine are bad, I sit in my hot tub and put an ice bag on my neck and on the side of my head that hurts. that along with my meds usually works. I haven't had to go to the ER for a headache for nearly ten years now. I used to work the ER as a nurse and kept ice bags in the lounge freezer for when I got a migraine. Those days were terrible. Take care, Annette
 
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freedom1960 responded:
Facet joints are where the vertebra bends. It is not actually a joint like you would think of in a knee or elbow, but a joint just the same. This involves burning away nerves that you can never get back so think long and hard before you have this procedure. You mentioned absolutely no narcotics. Were your doctors so sadistic they didn't give you actual pain medications while you were going through all this horrible pain? There are two different kinds of pain specialists: 1) the anesthesiologist who does these injections, and 2) the kind that treat pain with medications(REAL ONES) and other types of coping mechanisms, such as sending you to a psychologist to learn biofeedback, relaxation techniques, etc. I'd seek out the second kind before you allow a doctor to "burn away" part of your anatomy. That's just me. I have both types of doctors and haven't needed an injection in about 8-9 years! Good Luck!!! Rick
 
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Bentneck responded:
I have been removed from all pain medication as these were causing (rebound) headaches at a migraine level and making me feel much worse. So not only was I dealing with the neck pain and spasms, I was then dealing withe migraine headaches. Once I was removed from the pain medications, yes albeit, still my neck is very painfull and they are now trying to deal with that via injections etc., the migraine headaches have stopped. I guess it's the lesser of two evils :eyeroll: At this point to be quite honest I am very worried about this Rhizotomy, however I am also pretty much at the end of my rope with this daily pain, lack of sleep and new identity of "the girl with the pain in the neck" :eek: The good news is is that after 4 looooooooooong months of waiting, I finally just got my appointment for a "consultation" with the Neurosurgeon which is in a couple of weeks, so I am hoping to get some more answers then. Thanks for the good luch wishes, I'll keep you posted. Bev
 
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Bentneck responded:
Well, I went ahead and had the Rhizotomy on Oct. 8th/08 :crying: Man did that hurt and the following weeks were a living hell!!!! The only thing that the Rhizotomy did for me was leave me with a feeling of someone randomly pulling at about 10 hairs at a time in different spots at the nape of my neck :angry: and when I asked the hospital about it, they indicated that it is the burned nerves trying to regrow and for me not to worry that it was nothing and that it would continue for the next 7 - 12 months!!!!! The saga then continues.................."Lets try Botox" says the good ol' pain doctor, :eyeroll: Hmmmmm I think, at this point what have I got to lose? So two weeks ago I had 20, yes twenty shots of Botox across my forhead for the headaches and a few down my neck, not to many I still need to keep my head up :grin: soooooooooo a couple of days go by and I wake up and, Yup check, pain still there, take a walk to the bathroom :eek: I have now been given a new look!!! Picture it, the entire centre of my forehead has been "paralyzed" by the Botox so when I looked in the mirror in astonishment at my new appearance, only the outsides of my eyebrows raised :sad: Needless to say I have now come full circle and this Friday I will be dragging my sorry butt back to the Hospital to the original Neurologists office, firstly to scare the crap out of him with my new look and then seconly to demand that something get done once and for all :pbpt: Accepting all the Zen I can, many thanks :smile: Bev


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