Spinal Fusion Update from Shannon Woods

Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Hello everyone!

It has been a while since I last blogged about my experiences with my herniated cervical disc, so I thought it would be appropriate to give you an update…

After what was a relatively long period of being able to manage my discomfort from my disc herniation, about 3 months ago, things started acting up again.  I began feeling more and more pain in my neck, right upper back and my shoulder and arm.  The pain was worsening and I was concerned about being able to function in my job and in my life.

I was at a conference and saw my friend, Steve Schall of Norfolk Physical Therapy.  Steve regularly brings a therapy chair to these conferences and offers chair massages to attendees, Bless his heart!  Steve offered to see if he could help me, so I happily accepted his offer.  Steve proceeded to knead my sore muscles, stretch my neck and manipulate my spine.  He helped me feel better, so much so that I was able to take a vacation (the next week) to Panama feeling relatively good.

Chief of Surgery at Bon Secours Dr Jeffrey Carlson MD

Dr Jeffrey Carlson

Upon my return from vacation, I consulted with Drs. Carlson and Sureja, who have been taking care of me through-out this ordeal.  Dr. Sureja felt like I could be having some pain with my facet-joints due to arthritis and he suggested trying a facet joint injection to see if it would alleviate any of my symptoms.  Dr. Carlson was happy to approve a referral to Steve at Norfolk PT to see if he could continue to help me.

IT Band diagnosis and treatment

Dr Raj Sureja

I go for two PT visits and Steve really works me over, in a GOOD way!  He and his staff were very attentive and really paid attention to the areas of my body that were giving me problems.  They used Ultrasound, traction and hot packs, as well as manipulation, manual stretching and then gave me exercises to do at their office and at home.

Maybe we may have moved too quickly with my treatment, or maybe having the Physical Therapy had absolutely nothing to do with the worsening of my symptoms, because instead of feeling better, I awoke the next Saturday morning in the worst pain I have ever felt.  You just don’t know what causes it to get worse!  Lying down and trying to turn over in bed caused horrible pain.  I spent a weekend on the heating pad, taking anti-inflammatories and pain medication, trying to find a comfortable way to lay down and sleep.  That usually involved having my right arm above my head, on the pillow or having my right arm propped up on a pillow, out to the side.  My arm pain started becoming worse and then I started to feel numbness and tingling, which I had not felt until this time.   It was truly disabling pain and that weekend, I decided that I was over it and done…I decided that I would proceed with the spinal fusion surgery, so that I could start feeling better.

I talked to both Dr. Carlson and Dr. Sureja and told them of my decision to proceed with the surgery.  Dr. Sureja asked if I would go ahead and try the facet joint injection to see if it would help.  I agreed.  I was worked into the schedule the next day.

The facet joint injection is performed in the same procedure room as the epidurals.  However, the shot was not as unsettling as an epidural…I tolerated it well, it was over in a flash and I did just fine.  It did not cause the side-effects that I usually get from the epidurals either (flushing, leg-pain, insomnia), so that was a big plus!

While the injection seemed to help me, especially when turning my head, it did not alleviate my symptoms enough to warrant not having surgery.  So I am moving forward.

My next installment…getting ready for surgery!

Shannon Woods works for and is a patient of Orthopaedic & Spine Center, Newport News VA