Neck Epidural Failed? What to Do Next…

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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epidural injections failed

What’s your next move if your neck epidural failed to relieve your pain or numbness? Mary-Frances is an airline pilot who was looking at more surgery and not being able to pass an FAA physical. Rather than get that second surgery, we were able to help her with the Regenexx-DDD procedure after her neck epidural failed. She’s one of many such neck patients who we have saved from the scalpel.

Mary is a 62-year-old airline pilot who had a surgical fusion at the C3-C4 level of her neck in 2011. Things went fine for awhile,  but as is common with fusions, she began to get problems below the fusion. When we first evaluated her she had a two-month history of increasing lower neck pain that radiated into the left shoulder and thumb. She had tried acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, oral steroids, and epidural steroid injections. These provided only transient improvement.

So let’s break this down a bit. Mary (pictured above) had a fusion which takes a portion of the neck that was built to move and prevents it from moving. That force has to go somewhere, so it gets transmitted to the levels below which start having issues. So why didn’t her epidural steroid injection work? Like many patients with chronic neck or back issues, Mary’s problems involved more than just one structure. Many of these patients are “invisible” to the traditional pain management system, as the mantra there is to “find the pain generator”, which means find the one thing that’s causing the most pain. However, for Mary there were multiple things that were getting overloaded-the facet joints (small finger size joints in the back of the neck), the nerves, and the ligaments that act as the duct tape to hold the neck together. So why not treat all of these areas with something that’s regenerative rather than a steroid which is destructive? The Regenexx-DDD procedure focuses platelets (or stem cells in the worst cases) at all of these structures using ultra-precise imaging guided injections. The results from those injections? She was able to come off all narcotics, nerve pills, and NSAID anti-inflammatories while also passing her FAA physical and avoiding surgery.

The upshot? Our interventional pain management system is focused on finding the one pain generator, which works sometimes. However, many patients have many structures that hurt, which is where a procedure like the Regenexx-DDD procedure can help. In addition, since steroid injections can weaken bones and inhibit healing, why not ditch them in favor of using the healing potential of your own platelets or stem cells?

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

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Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

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  • And more
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Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
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Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
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Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

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  • And more
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Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

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Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
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