Discussions By Condition: Back conditions

PLZ HELP! Epidural shot, now NEW sciatic pain!

Posted In: Back conditions 11 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • October 7, 2008
  • 05:28 AM

I will try to make this brief. I'm very upset.

I've had low back pain most of my 48 years. It has come and gone. The most recent episode of pain has lasted now almost two years. A recent MRI shows that the herniation at L4-5 and L5-S1 has gotten worse in the past few years. My back usually hurts near the SI joint area.

I've tried all sorts of treatments, except for epidural cortisone shots. My doctors said I needed epidural shots, but I was scared to get them and wanted to try other things first. For the past two years, I've tried PT, acupuncture, massage, Egoscue, osteopathic manipulation, and even reading Sarno and trying out his "method" in earnest. These other treatments helped to a large extent, but the pain kept returning and I wasn't able to exercise the way I needed to (like a normal person -- I'm not an athlete and don't try to be -- just want to be able to do normal things like ride a bike or play a little tennis or do the aerobic machines at the gym). I really wanted Sarno to be the answer, but despite my best efforts, it still felt like something structural was wrong with me. I figured maybe I have combination of both psychological (pain from stress or anxiety) and physcial (disc or whatever).

So finally I decided to get an epidural cortisone shot. I got a new doctor, a physiatrist who is part of well-known group of orthopedic spine specialists who treat professional athletes. I wanted to go with the best in my geographic area. The doctor SWORE that an epidural shot would be the thing that would cure my back pain, and I believed him.

First he gave me a shot on the right side only, because I'd been having some groin/hip pain on that side in addition to back pain. He said that the groin pain was from the nerve (although to me it felt more like a pulled tendon or something). He didn't treat the left side, even though I said that the pain tended to move around from right to left.

Anyway, after the shots on the right side, the LEFT side of my back started hurting in the usual SI joint area when I tried to sit down. The pain subsided after a few days, so I began PT for core strengthening. But the PT exercises made the left side of my back begin to hurt again. After a few PT sessions, it got so bad that I had to stop PT.

So my doctor agreed that I should get another epidural cortisone shot, this time on the left side. So one month after the first shot on the right, my doctor did the left side, but also the right side again because the groin pain on the right side really hadn't stopped.

Well now my back is a bit "iffy" (sometimes it aches and sometimes it doesn't), but my huge new problem is: I NOW HAVE SCIATIC PAIN IN MY LEFT BUTTOCK, HAMSTRING, AND DOWN MY LEFT LEG. Fortunately it isn't a horrible pain. It is more of a feeling of intense pressure/achiness and my left foot tingles, particularly when I sit. I am taking Mobic and Tylenol to help control the pain and "inflammation" if there is any. I was supposed to start PT but I am not going to do ANYTHING until this feeling of pressure and pain go away.

I'm extremely upset about this. I have NEVER had any pain down EITHER of my legs before.

Please please please, will someone who has been through this tell me that it will go away?! That it is only temporary --- only a temporary reaction to the shot?! Tell me that it will fade away over time -- and soon!!! I am SO AFRAID that the doctor damaged the sciatic nerve on my left side with that shot!!! That I will be this way forever from now on! Oh god, what have I done to myself???!!!! Why couldn't I just have left things alone?! I was "managing" before...I just wanted to make things better and "get my life back." Now I'm afraid that I've screwed everything up!!!

The doctor's assistant told me that I could feel all sorts of sensations for 3 weeks after the shot. Well it has been 2 weeks and THIS sensation isn't changing or getting any better. My left leg feels heavy and achy ALL THE TIME, except when I'm resting on my back or on my side. Tell me, if that cortisone is supposed to be such magic, why is it making my leg feel WORSE?!! And why am I feeling this on my left, but not on my right? Why only on one side? (Thank God it's not both!)

I'm seeing the doctor for a follow-up next week. If he tells me that I need another shot, I'm going to tell him to go to ***l. I'm not getting on that table again; this time he might really cripple me. He is supposed to be a top-notch orthopedist/physiatrist. He has written papers on giving these shots. How could such an expert make a mistake on somebody like me?

I want to know why I now have a pain where I never had one before. I'm scared to go to the gym and even walk fast on a treadmill because I don't know if it will make me feel worse.

Please you guys, help me! I don't want to do anything that makes this worse!

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11 Replies:

  • I wanted to show you guys the bio of my doctor, to show you why I chose him to do the shots. I changed his name, the name of the colleges he attended, and the names of the teams he works with, but they are very famous sports teams and good colleges. Again, I can't believe that someone so experienced could make things worse for me. Tell me, with a resume like this, wouldn't you be inclined to go to a doctor like this, and wouldn't you be confident that he would help you instead of hurt you? ******* Dr. John Doe graduated from (several good colleges mentioned, but not anything like Harvard or Yale). He did his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at (a very good medical center ). He did a one year post graduate fellowship in spine, sports and occupational rehabilitation. He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Doe has served as team physician for: A small state university; two nearby junior colleges; a very sports-oriented competitive high school; a small private college, and an area ballet company. He has been a team physician for (a very famous NFL football team) since the mid-1990s. Recently, he started being a team physician for (a famous hockey team, and an arena football team). He is also an active member of both the NFL and NHL Team Physician Societies. Dr. Doe has written text book chapters on cervical, lumbar and peripheral joint injection techniques. He lectures nationally on topics varying from non-operative management of spine injuries to the management of common injuries seen in the NFL. He also has made appearances on TV and radio to discuss the diagnosis and management of common sports injuries, especially those seen in NFL athletes.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 7, 2008
    • 06:41 AM
    • 0
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  • What ever you do dont have any more shots.I am disabled because of these good Drs.telling me they will help me.The injections will not help you and as you see can hurt you.My left leg is so bad because they hit nerves when they gave me the shot.I hope yours goes away and it may.It has been 10 years and my leg has never recovered.No matter what happens do not let them talk you in to any new procedures.After my first shots they told me they could go in and freeze the nerves and the pain would go away,again a big mistake.Try to stay healthy and exercise.More is not better in your situation.I hope it gets better.Good luck.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 7, 2008
    • 10:55 AM
    • 0
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  • TonyD, can you please tell me what your situation was before you got the shots? What was your problem -- why did you get them in the first place?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 7, 2008
    • 03:27 PM
    • 0
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  • I had herniated dics at L4-5s1.The pain was so bad and i did not want to have an operation.The pain management Dr.Was confident this would help.I know that you are taking a risk anytime you stick anything into your spine.So this was my decision onlyto try this.After the first shot i had some relief for about a day.So i thought maybe another one would help.This time it eas different.I had this horrible pain in my leg.It ached so bad.The Dr. told me this was normal and would go away.Well it did not.It kept me awake at night.Nothing i did worked.The Dr.never admitted to doing anything wrong.I knew somthing had happened.I went and saw another DR.he told me i needed surgery.They did a mylegram CT scan and found nerve damage on top of the herniated disc.Still not wanting to have an operation he told me the could go in and freez the nerves.I agreed and it was a huge mistake.My problem only got worse and to my horrow and own fault i found out tis procedure was very controversial.Now i was not even able to work the pain was so bad.I was sent to a nerosurgan and he again told me surgery was the only option.So again a agreed.They did a fusion using treaded cages at L 4-5.When i talk to the DR. after the surgey he told me the nerves had been so damaged and may heal.Well of course they did not.He told me he did not do any damage to the nerves and did not no why they were like that.Well of course he did,He just did not want to tell me.Any way the operation failed and to make a long story a little shorter i have had 6 operations trying to fix the problem.Not by the same dr.All of this started because of an injection.I know i had disc problems but at least i could still function with the pain.Now i have DDD,severe spinal stenosis and oh yea another herniated dics at L2-3.Please do your home work when it comes to any other treatments.And it does not matter were they go to school or how many books they write.I hope you can find someone that will help you.But be very carful because once you start messing with the back its a domino effect.Thing only get worse.Good luck.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 7, 2008
    • 05:38 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • TonyD, I am so sorry to hear your story. Thank you for coming to this forum and sharing that with me. I agree with you, and I and will NOT get any additional shots or anything. If this leg pain goes away, I will feel that I've dodged a bullet. The doctor FINALLY returned my phone call today and I got to speak to him personally (which is hard to do -- he routes all his communication through his medical assistant -- it's impossible to actually speak to HIM unless you make an appointment!) He said that he is absolutely sure that there is no permanent nerve damage from what he did. He said that the shot sometimes reproduces the nerve pain (even if it wasn't there previously). He is unhappy that I choose to take Mobic instead of the Celebrex that he would rather prescribe. But I don't want to take Celebrex. I've read about too many bad side effects of that drug, including anxiety. I already have a problem with anxiety and don't want anything to add to it. He said that if the nerve pain continues, he would suggest taking Prednisone for a few days to calm the nerve down. He also said that it's possible the pain is coming from the disc (that the disc problem got worse). How is that possible, when I haven't done anything but lie around for the past 2 weeks? This pain started after he gave me the injection! Well at this point, I guess I will have to "wait and see". He said that these sort of symptoms usually disappear within 3 weeks after the shot. It has been a little over 2 weeks, so I'm still within that window of time. If the pain continues after 3 weeks, I will probably have a consultation with a neurologist to assess nerve damage. But I won't do ANY more "procedures." From now on, I'll just take "safe" drugs when necessary and try treatments that won't do me more harm. I may consider taking the Prednisone for a short period of time, as well. I don't like taking steroids, but a few years ago I had a horrible back pain and spasms while on vacation. The hospital gave me Prednisone and it was like a miracle. So I know it can work well for back pain (I assume sciatic pain, too).
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 7, 2008
    • 09:32 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi-I work for a group of orthopedic surgeons that sound like a similar practice to where you went to get your injection except we have mostly surgeons and only a few physiatrists. I send patients to get epidurals on a daily basis and I can honestly say that I have never had one come back from one of our doctors with the complaints you are having now, I have heard these complaints from patients coming from other doctors around here and I usually prescribe them an oral steroid, prednisone or a medrol dosepak, which usually helps. The side effects also depend on if you had a normal epidural, also called an interlaminar steroid injection or a transforaminal or selective nerve root block.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies
    • October 11, 2008
    • 11:31 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • No offense to spine girl or her place of work, but go to an anesthesiologist who is board certified in pain management. So many physiatrists are doing interventional pain management these days, with MUCH less training than those who actually do a fellowship in pain management. A neurologist can go to a seminar on plastic surgery and then legally perform the surgery, but that doesn't mean he's the best one to do it. As for the procedure, the medications injected can cause irritation of the nerve root, which can cause the pain you are having. Also, what frequently happens is one area of pain is so severe, that you "discover" new pains when one is relieved. I agree with SpineGirl-- I have worked in pain management for 12+ years, and have never seen a patient have any sort of permenant problem from an injection. We do 60-80 procedures of various types per day, most of them a lot more hairy than a single shot ESI. Did your doctor use fluoroscopy, or just go in blindly? The medrol dosepak sounds like a good idea, or maybe some Neurontin or Lyrica, or some other GABA re-uptake inhibitor. These are commonly used for seizures, but work well for nerve pain on the same premise--prevents the nerve from randomly "mis-firing".
    jenn96rn 14 Replies
    • December 30, 2008
    • 02:52 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • TONY D---Don't let anyone do anymore surgery on you!!! I have about 20 patients per day who have had five or more surgeries, and are no better and usually worse than when they started. Unfortunately, there are lots of surgeons out there who will tell you that even though the first four didn't help, this fifth one ought to do the trick, because that is what makes the payment on their Lexus or their girlfriend's new breasts!! Beware!!
    jenn96rn 14 Replies
    • December 30, 2008
    • 02:56 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I had herniated dics at L4-5s1.The pain was so bad and i did not want to have an operation.The pain management Dr.Was confident this would help.I know that you are taking a risk anytime you stick anything into your spine.So this was my decision onlyto try this.After the first shot i had some relief for about a day.So i thought maybe another one would help.This time it eas different.I had this horrible pain in my leg.It ached so bad.The Dr. told me this was normal and would go away.Well it did not.It kept me awake at night.Nothing i did worked.The Dr.never admitted to doing anything wrong.I knew somthing had happened.I went and saw another DR.he told me i needed surgery.They did a mylegram CT scan and found nerve damage on top of the herniated disc.Still not wanting to have an operation he told me the could go in and freez the nerves.I agreed and it was a huge mistake.My problem only got worse and to my horrow and own fault i found out tis procedure was very controversial.Now i was not even able to work the pain was so bad.I was sent to a nerosurgan and he again told me surgery was the only option.So again a agreed.They did a fusion using treaded cages at L 4-5.When i talk to the DR. after the surgey he told me the nerves had been so damaged and may heal.Well of course they did not.He told me he did not do any damage to the nerves and did not no why they were like that.Well of course he did,He just did not want to tell me.Any way the operation failed and to make a long story a little shorter i have had 6 operations trying to fix the problem.Not by the same dr.All of this started because of an injection.I know i had disc problems but at least i could still function with the pain.Now i have DDD,severe spinal stenosis and oh yea another herniated dics at L2-3.Please do your home work when it comes to any other treatments.And it does not matter were they go to school or how many books they write.I hope you can find someone that will help you.But be very carful because once you start messing with the back its a domino effect.Thing only get worse.Good luck. Have any of your pain doctors offered you a "Spinal Cord Stimulator" trial? It's sort of the last resort--- but i have one and my pain in the lower back and leg is 85% gone after living on 2000+ mg daily vicodin for (3) years and numerous steroid injections.
    csweep 4 Replies
    • January 1, 2009
    • 00:23 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Please try acupuncture - it can really help sciatic and lower back pain. Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3080 Replies
    • January 1, 2009
    • 03:09 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Did they use a CT scan to assist in pinpointing the right place to do the shot? I have had 3 epidural shots by two different doctors. The first shot they did not use CT to guide them and it did not help. However, I think that my disc was so bad at the time that surgery was the only thing that was going to help. The second doctor used a CT scan to pinpoint the shot and it has helped quite a bit. A word to those scared to have surgery.I had a discectomy at the Hospital for Special Surgery and crippling back/sciatic pain was gone the next day. I highly recommend a discectomy for anyone w/ severe sciatic pain. Make sure your surgeon is a reputable one but do not be scared of this procedure!! A discectomy is a very minor surgery compared to a fusion.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • September 1, 2009
    • 09:48 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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