Pain Management Community
9.74k Members
Avatar universal

Herniated dics and epidural injections??

I really want to hear from people good or bad if this gonna help? My Doctor says this is all that is left for me!! I really have not heard many positive outcomes.....that it works, more important to me...that it will LAST! I'm at the end of my rope. I'm full of anger! If you do share, please let me know if it was cervical or lumbar, how many you had and if it was steroids only or just a pain med injection?

Thanks so much for your help!

*My herniated discs and severe neck sprain were due to a car accident 7 months ago. Also, have herniated and bulging discs in my lumbar and my spine is crooked. (the crooked spine was prior, but never had in pain my body prior to this damn accident). So frustrated!!!
15 Responses
441382 tn?1452814169
Before you decide to have any epidural injections, please Googleh a condition called Adhesive Arachnoiditis.  It has been discovered in recent years that epidural injections are one of the causes of this.  What MAY help your disc pain somewhat could end up giving you a debilitating disease that nothing but lifelong pain meds and having your activities dictated by how much your body can tolerate on any given day will make bearable.

I developed Adhesive Arachnoiditis following the injection of dye when doctors performed a myelogram on me before my neck surgery.  How you get it is immaterial, the fact that you will NEVER again be without pain below about a 4 or 5 on the pain scale, even with strong opiate pain meds is what matters.

Now, not everyone that has epidural injections develops Arachnoiditis, true enough.  But recent research suggests that as many as 75% of the people who have epidural injections develop the disease to some degree.  It might be a slight form of the disease, causing burning sensations in your legs from time to time or a heavy, aching feeling in your lower back that comes and goes, or you could be one of the 5% of the people (like me) who develop it and eventually will be in a wheelchair,

Of course, I can't tell you not to have the injections if you really feel they would help you.  I did feel that you should know what a possible outcome of those injections could be, and that it's not a pleasant one.  If you do decide to have the injections, it should at least be with your eyes wide open as to the negative aspects of it.  I wasn't told before the myelogram that the Arachnoiditis was a possible outcome.  Had I known, I would have refused the test.  They already had all the information they needed before the surgery.  When we asked the surgeon if this test was necessary, he said that he would "prefer" that I had it because it would give him a different view of what was going on where the nerves were being pinched off.  We asked the doctor performing the myelogram if there were any negative side effects.  Even HE didn't tell us.  Afterward, we found out that the reason was because they don't like to bring up Arachnoiditis and its evil cousin, Adhesive Arachnoiditis, because by doing so, they admit that they are doing something that can cause you harm.  Even after a person developes arachnoiditis they are loathe to diagnose it because it implicates their brethren since the only way you can get it is through medical intervention.  Don't let them fool you into thinking that the epidurals are something innocent that they are giving you that can either help or not work.  They can also do a lot of harm.  Just be aware.

Avatar universal
Thank you Ghilly!! This is why I love MedHelp! This is why my Dr. prob. hates it. haha. The reason I don't want it it is because I already have read the facts that it is the "second most common cause of osteoporosis, and they currently have no real treatment for this serious side effect." , it represses your immune system and messes w/ your adrenal glands and causes moodiness and weight gain. Not to mention in the neck(cervical) is a painful spot and very dangerous. I did not even know about this Adhesive Arachnoiditis. That just concluded that I'd rather stay in pain. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for that info. I might bug you again, if you don't mind?...if I think of other questions. I wish Doctors REALLY informed their patients....ever since my mva, nothing has been explained in good detail( procedures, meds, interactions, etc.) It is a shame!!
1508881 tn?1313118501
I had the epidural injections at L2-5 about a year ago. I had both a steroid and pain medication in mine. I had them in 3 sets and by the 2nd set I felt relief. It was short lived at about a month total. I did have a bad reaction to the steroids. I had extreme night sweats, horrible anxiety bordering on panic attacks, weight gain, and my face was constantly red and hot. I also developed a twitching/tremor type thing in my lower body (which is gone now) Once the steroids were out of my systems I was just fine.

They were good for the month of pain free living they brought to me but all the side effects would keep me away from getting them again. But I had to do them to get my insurance to pay from RFA (nerve ablation) which has been holding strong for about 6 months.

The other reason I had the epidural injections is because I'm willing to try any and all means necessary to be pain free. If the epidural injections did not involve steroids than I would keep getting them if I hadn't had RFA which is much better in my opinion. They typically give steroids with RFA, but I just told them not to and it wasn't a problem.

There is always a chance that something bad will happen with any type of medical procedure. So you have to weigh the good and the bad. I'm not sure of the exact numbers when it comes to severe complications from ESI's but it is fairly small.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the info, I'm gonna keep on putting it of for right now. Just a gut feeling. I wanna read more up on what RFA is...never heard of that before?
Avatar universal
If you want to end up paralyzed permanently, go ahead.  I had those, and they scared the heck out of me. Never again. All it takes is one slip of a needle to do serious damage to your spinal cord.  I still have permanent bruising around the epidural sites from ten years ago. Once I ended up paralyzed for 14 hours. And that means no bowel control, no bladder control, no feeling at all below the injection site. Not only did it freak me out, you should have seen how freaked out the docs and technicians were.

Because of that, I'm too terrified to go for risky surgery to fix my back, have some vertebrae fused and pressure from collapsed discs released. because there is a risk of paralysis, i just won't do it. I'll wait till a better technique comes along. I couldn't handle being a paraplegic, I'd rather have pain.
Avatar universal
You know what helps, and actually relieves some pressure from herniated discs? An inversion board. A half hour every evening stretches out your back and allows the disks to expand a little.  After a few months of that, I don't often get those terrible pinched nerves and sciatica problems near as often as I used to. You also have to know your limits and don't do anything to aggravate your injury. Yes it's a more sedentary life, but better than paralysis
Avatar universal
Thank you for the comment, that is exactly how I feel....I'll deal w/ the pain.
Avatar universal
Funny, I have been looking for used inversion machines. Sometimes, I find myself hanging off the couch upside down and it relieves the pressure. Every try those decompression machines? I'm curious about them?
Avatar universal
You mean that thing they advertise on TV sometimes that you lay on your back and put your legs over?  
Looks interesting. But I'll wait until I see one at a garage sale. I can see it helping with lumbar compressions though, cause it lifts your hips a bit and stretches out your back gently. You may be able to find one on ebay.
Avatar universal
I just had my second epidural steroid injection last Thursday.  There is no relief to this point and I actually have had a headache since.  The doctor that did it doesn't seem to care.  The first thing they said when I called was "Well the Dr didnt do anything wrong."  Even though I didnt accuse anyone of doing anything wrong I just wanted to know why I have a horrific headache.  

I just got off the phone with them because the pain is not controlled at all.  I have disc herniations in two places, but they don't seem to think I need anything for pain.  Anyway, the doc is "out of town" until I see him next week so I am supposed to suffer in silence until then.  

I guess my point here is that the Epidural does help some people from what I have read, but you get a 50/50 shot.  It didn't hurt too much going in until he injected the medicine and then it felt like my calf muscle was going to explode.  That pain didn't last but a minute and then it was gone.  I guess you use your own judgement as to whether or not to get the injection.  From my perspective it was a waste of time.

Avatar universal
Have you ever asked your Dr. about a spinal stimulator? It is a wonderful thing if it can be used for what you have. It is NOT LIKE A TENS UNIT. They put a line next to your spinal cord and it sends a signal at the beginning of where the pain signal begins and in the place of pain you feel a vibrating sensation. ask your  Dr. about it. I am so sorry the pain is so bad. That hanging upside down machine sounds like it would be good and healthy for everyone..Let me know what you find out about the spinal stimulator........Dawn  cornishrex
Avatar universal
Hi Ghilly,
I enjoy the pleasure of arachnoiditis (spelling??) in my spine too! Yay!  Mine was from my spinal canal being flooded with blood.  I have also had a myelogram, they are horrible and antiquated.
1331804 tn?1336870958
It looks like I am the odd one out in this conversation.

I just had my 5th lumbar epidural injection today and over time they have been working better on relieving the pain.  I think my body's response to some of the inflammation is gone for the long term.  When it gets near the time for another injection, my pain levels go up but not as bad as they did in the beginning.

I have not had any complications from any of the injections in terms of things going wrong with the procedure itself, and the procedure seems to be easier to go through now.  The one I had today was not bad at all.  The procedure is over fairly quickly.  Once you are on the table and prepped, it takes 5-7 mins to get the anesthetic in and the needle properly placed and to add the medicine.  They use an X-ray machine to guide the needle into the epidural space (if you go in and they don't use an X-ray or any type of fluoroscopy, if I were you I would run).  The X-ray is crucial to properly placing the needle.  Then they pump the medicine in.  Some times (like today) I get a shooting pain down my right leg.  Other times I don't have any pain when the medicine goes in.  Interesting thing is that I get more pain relief and it lasts longer if I DO get a shooting pain, if I don't, it feels like they missed the target.

Over the long term, the injections can thin your bones and result in osteoarthritis.  I take calcium supplements every day to combat the bone loss.  I am only 31 so I am wondering what will I replace the injection with when it is too risky (bone wise) to get them?  

The injections along with morphine, oxycodone, and a suite of other meds, self-accupressure, stretching, and mild excercise keep me active and my pain levels around a 3 or 4 most of the time.  Occassionally, I will have flare ups but nothing like how it used to be before I started an effective pain management program.

I was VERY SCARED when I went in for my first injection.  But, I was also TIRED OF THE PAIN!  That fact helped me overcome my fears.  I do believe it is 50/50 shot on whether or not the injections will help.  They are supposed to last at least 4 weeks.  Mines have been lasting for 6 weeks most of the time and the previous injection before today lasted 8 WEEKS before it started to wear off, which was nice.  It is important to note that the injections will probably NOT relieve all of your pain.  The injection is a tool and it is important that you have other tools to use that add up to significant pain relief.

Another downside to the injections (at least for me) is it causes a weakened immune system.  The last three injections have resulted in a period of complete and utter misery from the worst colds EVER!  It starts when my little son comes home from school sick.  His cold is always mild, a little cough here, a little cough or sneeze there.  But when I catch his little cold, it turns into this massive cold with severe flu like symptoms.  I wash my hands religiously but I can't seem to dodge it if he gets sick.  I always catch what he has times 10! I guess the bit of good news is once the medicine is gone (usually around 6-8 weeks), the immune system returns to normal and I can dodge my son's colds again.  Tomorrow after I recover today, I am going to pick up a hand sanitizer and use it religiously along with washing my hands...hoping this works this time.  If not, I'm prepared for what will happen when if I get sick but I'm not looking forward to it.
Avatar universal
Thank you all for the education. I had a microdiscectomy 2 years ago and had back pain on and off since the surgery. I was in a car accident about a month ago now with severe back pain. I had a steroid injection early this week with no relief. I had my first epidural and for they first time in weeks my pain level is down to a 3 from an 8. My pain management doctor wants me to see the orthopedic surgeon this Friday. I will further discuss the pros and cons of epidural injections and will check on a Ebay for the inversion table. Thanks for the help.
Avatar universal
Hi I have been getting epidurals for 20 years and  I swear by them...some can last me 2 years! I have bulging disc  in back and neck and herniated actually got a needle today!!!! worth a try
Have an Answer?
Top Pain Answerers
Avatar universal
st. louis, MO
317787 tn?1473362051
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
Could it be something you ate? Lack of sleep? Here are 11 migraine triggers to look out for.
Find out if PRP therapy right for you.
Tips for preventing one of the most common types of knee injury.
Here are 10 ways to stop headaches before they start.
Tips and moves to ease backaches