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#461524 - 01/30/12 12:16 PM C Spine Facet Fusion
lila Offline

Registered: 01/26/12
Posts: 72
Loc: N.S. Canada
I went to my family doc with a list this time. My facet joints in my C spine are what have fused. I don't know what that means. I asked for and was given long acting and short acting opiate medication. Should I worry about addiction at this point??

I asked for a referral to my GI doc. He never knew I had AS. Hopefully he will be better able to help with GI problems. I also asked for a consult to a dietitian regarding low starch diet. I ordered Ms. Sinclairs book.

I wish to express my appreciation to everybody. I was ready for this appointment and will now be acting as my own advocate. It is because of all your post, that I even had a clue what to ask for. I feel much more confident and informed for my first rhematology appointment Thursday.

Thanks a lot Shel
[font:Comic Sans

#461530 - 01/30/12 12:50 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
Pea Offline

Registered: 02/24/11
Posts: 1968
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Welcome Shel,
Fusing is what happen's in the course of A.S. You need to research as much as you can and it will help you in ask the right questions to your Dr.s You have options! I have had facet joint injection's in my neck and Radiofrequency Ablations also known as Rhizotomies. Also research the difference between drug addiction and pain relief for chronic suffers. Big difference. There are also special neck and body stretches for people with arthritis and pool therapy is awesome. Glad you are following through as well with the NSD.
Diagnosed with A.S. 29 year's ago.
Diagnosed with Fibro 10 year's ago.
Remicade, Intrathecal Pain Pump 2013

#461539 - 01/30/12 02:13 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
lila Offline

Registered: 01/26/12
Posts: 72
Loc: N.S. Canada
Thank you Pea. I will research Rhizotomies. Do you have limited movement to your head? I do a lot of reading but its limited to the amount of knowledge I possess. Makes me grateful for this site because there is so much information for me to examine. Fear of dependence is an issue I am going to have to resolve internally. I have had great amounts of pain and ALWAYS hesitate taking meds and talk myself out of taking anything. I always think, "Just endure through it" frown

[font:Comic Sans

#461546 - 01/30/12 04:03 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
Sue22 Offline

Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 21326
Loc: Upstate NY
i too had facet joint injections in my C-spine. i have bone spurs / osteophytes there. not fused, but pressing on nerves, so causing neck / face / upper back spasms, pain, etc. they helped somewhat. will be going back to the doctor to see if he wants to do another round or try something different.

as for pain, pain management, opiates: lots of info out there, but thise site basically says what pea was saying:

if you are concerned about taking the opiates, others on here with that experience could comment. i'm on LDN now which is incompatible with opiates, though i've stopped it to take tramadol a few times. but the tramadol barely takes the edge off; doesn't seem any stronger than when i used to take tylenol.

Edited by Sue22 (01/30/12 05:36 PM)


Spondyloarthropathy, HLAB27 negative
Humira (still methylprednisone for flares, just not as often. Aleve if needed, rarely.)
LDN/zanaflex/flector patches over SI/ice
vits C, D. probiotics. hyaluronic acid. CoQ, Mg, Ca, K.
walk, bike
no dairy (casein sensitivity), limited eggs, limited yeast (bread)

#461547 - 01/30/12 04:12 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]

Hi Shel! Do you have numbness in your hands as if you were suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? I thought that's what I had for 15 years until last week when I had x-rays and they discovered (among many other things) that two of my cervical vertebrae were fused together. I told my massage therapist and in one session all the pain and numbness were gone from my hands! Amazing! For years I had physical therapy for carpal tunnel with no relief because the problem was not in my wrists! It was in my C-Spine. Have you tried massage therapy? It has worked very well for me.

As for becoming addicted to painkillers, Pea is right. There's a big difference between pain relief and addiction. People who are addicted to painkillers take them for the "buzz", we take them to get rid of agonizing pain. I do, however, understand your concern and for this reason the strongest pain medication I've taken so far is Tramadol. I've never taken opiate derivatives, which have the greatest potential for addiction, but there's no saying I won't take them in the future.

Don't let yourself endure the pain. Chronic pain can lead to depression which in turn causes more pain. It becomes a vicious circle. Just remind yourself that you're not taking pain meds for recreational purposes but for a very real medical condition. If you had pain as a result of surgery or car accident then I'd say: "Yeah! Be careful!" Because the pain will go away and you might be left addicted to painkillers but with chronic degenerative diseases like AS, we're not going to get better. It's just going to get worse so managing our pain medication is a good idea. You know what I've done for the last 15 years? I keep switching pain meds back and forth. When the pain gets really bad I'll take Tramadol and when it stops working, instead of moving up to a narcotic pain killer I move back down to something like Excedrin.... and it works! It also seems to mitigate the damage done by NSAID's because I recently had a full check up and my stomach, liver and kidneys are in perfect condition.
Hope this helps! smile

#461550 - 01/30/12 04:32 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
cemc Offline

Registered: 01/25/10
Posts: 2105
Loc: UK
I'd add to the reassurance about opiates and strong pain meds in general. They do affect people differently though. For example I find that I really don't like tramadol because it does feel like I get withdrawal symptoms if I don't take them regularly (including nasty nausea). I don't have any problems at all with straight codeine, other than the slight constipating effect (but thats fine because I tend to loose anyway!). I can take anything from 25 mg to 4 x 50 mg of codeine in a day and still work fine and not feel I'm drugged, but I can also have a day or two without any and not suffer from withdrawal. Try the strong pain meds. If you don't like what you are given, for whatever reason, ask to try something different.

#461561 - 01/30/12 06:27 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
lila Offline

Registered: 01/26/12
Posts: 72
Loc: N.S. Canada
I read the article, thanks kindly. If addiction is psychological, then I certainly shouldn't concern myself. If I was comfortable, I certainly wouldn't take any thing. Thanks for the new perspective. I have had no problems with carpel tunnel. The joints in my thumbs and some joints in my fingers. I don't know what carpel tunnel feels like. I don't get pins, needles or numbness in my hands but I do get that sensation below my knees and the soles of my feet.

The pain medication is working so/so

[font:Comic Sans

#461573 - 01/30/12 09:07 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: ]
loveoneanother Offline

Registered: 01/19/12
Posts: 1
hi blueforest,

i saw your post regarding your numb hands. i too have numb hands and my doc thinks i have CTS, but i seriously doubt it. both my hands are numb and my neck is fused with limited range of motion.

1. did you have numbness in both hands or just one?

2. how exactly did you obtain relief? did you massage therapist do something to your neck?

thanks for sharing.

#461608 - 01/31/12 11:22 AM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
Pea Offline

Registered: 02/24/11
Posts: 1968
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Great article Sue! You are so good at finding info. for all of us.

Shel, I went almost 10 years with nothing but a muscle relaxer which caused terrible restless leg and body syndrome. This year I relented, found a pain clinic and finally found the relief that I desperately needed. It gave me part of my life back. I take Percocet and I have never gotten a buzz off of it, just relief. I had the same concerns as you did but the pain and progression led me to pain med's, TNF blockers, MTX and now something for my Fibromyalgia and I have finally found the relief that I searched so many years for. We are here to help and support you through this scary time.
Diagnosed with A.S. 29 year's ago.
Diagnosed with Fibro 10 year's ago.
Remicade, Intrathecal Pain Pump 2013

#461616 - 01/31/12 01:16 PM Re: C Spine Facet Fusion [Re: lila]
avonldy Offline

Registered: 02/26/10
Posts: 2190
Loc: N. Sacramento Valley
If you have pain, take your pain meds! They work better if you take them when the pain is at a low level. If you wait till the pain is really bad, the meds won't work as well, and can take longer to work. The idea is to manage your pain, not suffer.
Cherish your yesterdays,
Dream your tomorrows,
But live your todays.
Do the very best you can
leave the rest to God.
God Bless,

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