Steroid Injections Relieve Debilitating Pain
On a bright afternoon in spring 1982, Sharon Enright’s compact Ford Pinto was struck by a Pontiac Bonneville. As she assessed the damage to her front fender, she was surprised she didn’t appear to be hurt. She didn’t yet know she had suffered severe whiplash.
A few months later, Ms. Enright, a former Air Force reservist, was involved in a second car accident. “The driver fell asleep at the wheel,” she recalled. “Her car struck mine in the same place, resulting in the same injury to my neck.” The whiplash eventually caused severe spinal inflammation in the cervical (upper) region of her spine, and led to arthritis.
In just a few short years, the arthritis caused a complete disintegration of her upper spine. As her spinal cord compressed further, physicians in Washington, D.C., recommended surgery to stabilize her vertebrae.
“Soreness in the late 1980’s evolved into a complete loss of ability to use my right side because of the pain,” she said, noting that not even strong narcotics relieved the shooting pain in her arm.
“Surgery did nothing to help with the pain. I couldn’t drive long distances, had lost all quality of life and, worse,” she said, “I was no longer able to ride horses, something I’d loved to do since I was young.”
After 18 years of discomfort and disability, Ms. Enright was referred in 2004 to Paul Wayne Davies, M.D., a pain management specialist in Annapolis.
“These physicians will get you back to living your life.” Sharon Enright
“When Sharon came to me, she was in excruciating pain,” said Dr. Davies. “She was rating her pain at a full 10 out of 10 and was experiencing no relief from medications.”
According to Dr. Davies, Ms. Enright’s surgery had caused stress in the facet joints between the vertebrae. As arthritis and inflammation developed further, her body activated mechanisms to protect her neck muscles, but those same mechanisms had led to tight, stressed muscles.
“What we’ve done with Sharon is treat the underlying arthritis with facet joint injections, which she undergoes a couple of times a year,” said Dr. Davies. “We treat the muscle spasms with trigger point injections of tiny amounts of steroid to reduce the inflammation, which causes pain, allowing Sharon to leave the office and remain pain free for months at a time.”
The solution sounds simple, but Sharon Enright credits Dr. Davies with giving her back her quality of life after suffering for 20 years. “I’m able to ride my horses again, travel, and best of all, I’m completely narcotic free,” she said. “You shouldn’t let your pain go as long as I did. There are options out there, and these physicians will get you back to living your life.”
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