Yes, he works on Saturdays...busy man!
Anyhow, he said that he doesn't believe at this point that I have need of another fusion but that there is definitely some nerve related problems going on. Said the pain I feel in face/jaw/eye area most likely coming from C3-4 or C4-5 area and the pain i have in my arms and down into my hands, upper shoulders/upper back most likely coming from C7-T1 area (I have C-5-6, and C6-7 already fused). He said both fusions look like they're ok.
Given he's a neurosurgeon and what I require at this point doesn't require his area of specialty, he dictated a letter while I was there to my current dr. In it he said I need to find out the cause of the problems and not just get shots to treat the pain (I for one would gladly just take a shot at this point but understand what he means). He suggested getting trial shots of a numbing agent into the roots of the nerves that he thinks are the problem, and if I get temp. relief then it would be conclusive proof that they were the offending nerves. Then, he said I could either get periodic epidural shots into the offending nerves (which would only offer temporary help) or I could get a nerve ablation to the offending root, which he believes would be better course of action and offer longer relief.
When brought up the fact I had SCS leads in cervical area, he said this: one
can get nerve ablation(s) even with leads in place; if need another fusion in the future, can be done even with leads in place. He said a fusion at the C7-T1 area is tricky as they have a hard time going in from the front (which is what they typically do on neck fusions), and that he'd have to go in from the back, but he felt confident he could do the fusion if the need ever arises.
Given the two fusions I do have and the fact that the vertebrae above and below fusions usually begin to be affected given the fact that they are now working harder due to fusions, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I'm now having problems in other levels of my neck. Hopefully my dr. will pursue my neurosurgeon's recommended course of action and I can get rid of this nerve pain. I'm having to juggle certain pain meds. to get pain relief (nerve pain is harder to deal with than the aching, sore type of pain). I'm finding wearing an ice pack for hours at a time does dull the nerves at the base of my skull for a while so will be resorting to that, also. I also have a migraine med. called Maxalt which I'm allowed to take 2-3 times a week (for some reason manufacturer says not to take it more often), and it offers some relief.
So, looks like I'm finally getting answers and have a plan to tackle this. Even though I'm still hurting I feel better knowing what the problem is and that there's a way to deal with it.
I'll periodically keep you up to date on what progresses as being on the computer gets my unhappy nerves stirred up. Thanks for your prayers!