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Lessons About Pain From the 2019 World Series

  • Category: News & Events
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Catalina Apostol

For our patients, especially the baseball fans, we have an inspiring story of how personal resilience and a popular pain treatment helped a world-class athlete reach his dream.

You may have seen recent interviews about starting pitcher Max Scherzer’s battle with crippling pain and his return to lead the Nationals to victory in game 7 of the World Series.

Click here, to read the story.

Like many of our patients, Max suffered extreme neck and shoulder pain due to a cervical nerve flare-up. Due to repeated pitching motions (up to 65 pitches a day) Max suffered a severe flare-up at the C5-C6 level in the neck. As a result, he was unable to raise his right arm, had difficulty driving, and needed a neck brace.

However, after receiving a cortisone shot and chiropractic care, Max’s neck and shoulder pain improved markedly over just 48 hours!  He was able to return to play, and win alongside his team.

Can the Treatment Max Scherzer Received Help you?

For those of us who are not professional athletes with million-dollar contracts and the victory of an entire team riding on our shoulders, neck and nerve pain is still a major concern.

According to a large health care survey conducted in the United States by the National Center for Health Statistics,15.2% of US adults suffer from neck pain every year.

Max received a cortisone shot (a corticosteroid injection) in the neck area. It appears that the treatment was a cervical epidural or a selective nerve root injection (SNRI).

  • cervical epidural is a fast-acting and powerful pain-relief injection into the epidural space of your neck. This space is found in the spinal column between a tough membrane (the dura) that surrounds the nerve roots and the interior surface of the spinal canal.
  • SNRI is a pain-relief injection that delivers medication directly to an inflamed and painful nerve root. It helps find the inflamed nerve and it relieves pain and other symptoms such as arm (or leg) tingling, numbness, or weakness.

These procedures are offered by pain specialists for the reduction of neck pain due to:

  • Nerve root pain  –  inflammation in a neck nerve that causes pain in the neck, shoulder, arm. (If the irritated nerve is in the back, there is pain, numbness, or weakness in the leg, foot, or toes).
  • Herniated discs  –  the gel-like center of a disc breaks through a weak area in the disc wall to irritate surrounding spinal nerves.
  • Bulging discs  –  the backbones put pressure on a disc, causing it to bulge into the spinal canal where it presses on a spinal nerve.
  • Disc wear-and-tear (degenerative disease)  –  breakdown or aging that tears the disc wall and collapses the disc, putting pressure on a spinal nerve.

To learn more about cervical epidurals, click here.

To learn more about SNRIs, click here.

5 Things You Need to Know About Steroid Injections for Neck Pain

  1. They are short outpatient procedures that typically take 20 to 30 minutes, including preparation time. They are followed by 30 minutes of observed recovery time.
  2. The main medication is a corticosteroid (“steroid”). This is a drug with powerful and long-acting anti-inflammatory actions. It closely resembles cortisol, the hormone that your adrenal glands produce naturally. Corticosteroids are different from the male hormone-related steroid compounds that some athletes abuse.
  3. The steroid medication goes to the precise site of your pain, for example around a flared nerve. Steroids can also be given systemically – throughout the body, if you take them in pill form or receive an intravenous (IV) injection. The advantage of epidural and SNRI treatments is that they deliver the steroid directly to the painful area, while keeping body-wide effects at a minimum. This can reduce some of the less desirable side effects of steroids: mood swings, weight gain, increased blood sugar, and others.
  4. To maximize accuracy and safety, we use fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance and a contrast agent to confirm that the needle is placed in the safest position.
  5. Cervical epidurals and SNRIs are fast-acting pain-relief treatments. You will experience increased pain relief from these injections over the first two days following the procedure. In some people, the pain relief effects may last for weeks or months.

If your neck hurts, don’t live with the pain! To schedule an appointment, get started by clicking here

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