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Hi, Newbie Here. Need Your Words of Wisdom and Guidance

Sugaree1209SSugaree1209 Posts: 50
Hi All,
I've been lurking here for a while. I have a herniated disc at L-5 S-1.
According to the MRI there are no other herniations or bulges, nor is there any sign of stenosis. The MRI states that this herniated is "large" (no precise measurement) and "displaces the S-1 nerve root posteriorly"

The orthopedic surgeon's PA (I've only been graced with the almightly surgeons presence once) wants me to have an ESI.

My question is why bother with an injection if that would only help temporarily and if the injection itself is painful (from what I have read)?

My logic is this: if the MRI shows that this is pretty straightforward, because there is nothing else wrong, wouldn't surgery be the best way to go?

I've tried two rounds of oral steriods, which only helped a little and only for as long as I was taking them. They have also given be Vicodin and Flexeril. The Vicodin is no more effective than plain Tylenol. The Flexeril DOES help. This has been going on for four months and I am at the end of my chain!

You folks here are wonderful and are a wealth of information.

Your thoughts please and thanks so much!



  • Welcome!

    I follow your logic, but when I was in your shoes, I wanted the ESI to buy me time so I could build my core strength. Sometimes ESI will allow you to go through physical therapy and other exercises regiments that could prevent you from having surgery. Surgery should be your last option.

    Most doctors will not jump to surgery unless you have gone through all conservative treatments as I have. And sciatica can go away by itself most of the time, so leaping into surgery might not be the best option for right nor or maybe nver (hopefully).

    Good luck!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,878

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

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    If you have any questions, feel free to contact (PM) any one of the Moderators here Priestess , Bruce , Paulgla, DiLauro

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    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please remember that all information you receive from members on this forum is NOT
    formal medical advise. You should always consult with your doctors.

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    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    I can understand where you are coming from. If the MRI indicates that the herniation is very large, then it would seem to be a pretty clear cut case. However, I would still want a second opinion before making any decisions.
    As far the ESI, first, its not painful at all. You are given a mild sedative (or should be) and all you feel is a small prick. There have been some cases , although very unusual where the patient suffers from problems resulting from the injection. Overall, ESI's have what seems to be a 50-50 success rate, at least the first one.
    In many ways you are lucky in that the disc is not hitting a nerve root. If that was the case, then you might not have all the choices, since surgery would be so likely.
    Based on your MRI, what has your doctor suggested? Besides the ESI, which is not bad, what about other options?
    What conservative treatments are being planned? Before you have any surgery, you should always go that route first.
    Good luck

    Take a look at this Spine-Health video on Injections:
    Spinal Injections
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Hi Sugaree1209,

    I too have a herniated disc L5 and have had the 3 epidural injections with a little relief but not sustained. I'm about at the six month mark in my journey to try to not have back surgery, but due to pain that can't be controlled on a sustainable basis, I am going for a second opinion with a new ortho doc this coming Monday. I've tried PT, chiropractic, PT, massage, etc. with no long lasting effects and I just want my life back so I'm willing to go under the knife now with the positive attitude that I've tried everything else (conservative) and pain will not abate. For me it's in my left leg, no back pain at all. I think the pain has interfered with my normal functioning in life for long enough. So, I guess, for everyone who posts here, it an individual journey and you have to make a decision that based on your system of checks and balances for what you're experiencing. As I write this, I'm sitting on my exercise ball at work with my tens unit on and a thermacare patch behind my left thigh -- also have a surgery boot on my left foot because it helps take the pain out of my foot when I walk - WHEW! Do I look pretty! (LOL)
    I'm not thrilled about going under the knife but I'm not thrilled with living in pain the rest of my waking days! Good luck to you and hopefully you will make the right choice for your situation in life.
  • welcome to the bad back club.i have had ESI and facet joint injection and physio and chiro and and and !!! but i have also had 2 major operations ans have just refused a third .i understand your dilemma .just bear in mind that even if you have a good outcome regarding surgery .you will need 12 months recovery and you wont be back to normal {post any pain that is } ever again your back will always be weak your best outcome is no leg pain and reduced back pain ,but trust me things can go wrong and you could find yourself like me and many others .disabled unable to work and in constant pain .i am sorry if that's not what you wanted to hear but i feel that you should know what could happen .other may tell you different but i can only tel you my story .please think long and hard about surgery because once you start there is a very good chance that as the years go by you will require more surgery ..and there is the dreaded scar tissue that can be just as bad as the reason that you required surgery in the first place.try any other options first ,if you need surgery find some one with a superb reputation .
  • Thanks everyone for the insight. You all have my respect and admiration, especially those who have had multiple surgeries.

    To answer your questions DiLauro, on my first visit to the ortho, he asked me if I wanted to try PT, I asked if that ever helps, he sort of laughed and said "I'm not optimistic." So, the ESI is the next step. I suppose I will have to go along with this to satisfy the insurance co. I must admit, I am scared to death because of the horror stories I've read on the other message board. I hope it helps. I don't have back pain at all, just my right leg.

    I am a believer in trusting your instincts, so I will definately seek out another opinion. This ortho certainly has the credentials, but I just get "bad vibes". And I live in the Philadelphia suburbs, so I certainly have a lot of highly regarding Dr.s to pick from. The Rothman Institute is supposed to be one of the best, they work on all the professional althletes. Maybe I'll try them.

    DiLauro, you have been through so much and are such an upbeat and postive person, thanks for being here!

    Lovinggardner, I've been following your story, I wish the best for you everyday when I come on this site. Your postive attitude helps me out of MY funk!

    DeltaLady, thank you too, I was an avid treadmill user before this started and I hope to get back to it soon; Ice packs are my best friend now! Thanks for sharing your story.

    Straker, thanks for your honesty and the welcome to the Bad Back Club; someplace I never wanted to be, but here I am. Should we call ourselves the "BBC"? (You are in the U.K., is that correct?)

    Best to all,


  • The BBC, huh? I like that :) Anyway, I happen to agree that you shouldn't jump into surgery like others here mentioned because it could be like opening Pandora's box- once your back is messed with it will never be the same again. I'm not saying not to do it, but to at least give epidural injections a try. I was sedated for my last one (#6) and I don't remember a thing. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you research everything about your condition so you can make an informed decision.

    I'm a veteran of 2 back surgeries, and I can tell you from experience that recuperating from this can be long and difficult. They will tell you that you'll be walking right after your surgery and go home that very same day, and that you'll recover in 12 weeks minimal. Not totally true- maybe for some but not all. I never got better after mine because I reherniated the same disc and the other was still pressing on the nerve. I also had other problems going on. 6 months later I went in for a 2 level fusion, and unfortunately I still have chronic back pain and nerve damage. The fact is that once you have surgery, there's a chance you may need another one down the road.

    Please let us know how it goes for you, and we're here for you in case you need more info or advice. Take care
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