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Finally, a diagnosis!

kelleygirlkkelleygirl Posts: 8
L5-S1 Herniated disc. I'm really relieved to just know what it is. They want me to do the epi, next. Any advice? Will it work? Nothing else has. In fact, it really just seems to have gotten worse. I feel crazy after 4 weeks of this! How do you guys do it for YEARS? Any way, just thought I'd update.


  • It is a relief to get a diagnosis instead of going from doctor to doctor seeking for an answer. I do hope the ESI will help you. They want to see if it will work for a few weeks, months, maybe a year and they do it in series of 3. There is a limit to how many a doctor will perform in a year but it varies according to them. I had 5 done in one year; 3 before a microdiscectomy and 2 post op.

    However there is like a 50/50 chance of success. Mine never helped me and all they did was make the pain escalate for a couple of weeks til it subsided down to my baseline pain level. Keep in mind that everyone is different and it doesn't mean that this scenario will happen to you.

    I did have my 6th ESI a couple of months ago and thankfully I was sedated before and I had no recollection of the procedure. I think this is the best way to do it in my opinion because it can be uncomfortable for some. I've had it without sedation and my doctor said I was a real trooper (he said grown men have cried on the table). My husband complimented me on how well I did too.

    They will have you lay on your stomach on a table and numb your back up first. By using a fluoroscope (live x-ray) they will guide the needle near the painful nerve root and inject a steroid to relieve pain and inflammation. The tricky part is when the nerve is coated and it may spaz and cause pain to travel down the leg. They hope it will numb things up and relieve the pain right away. If not, the steroid can take up to 5 days to work. Sometimes the pain will get worse before it gets better, and you should call the clinic if it's not better in 5 days. Your back will be sore and I suggest using ice packs to help.

    Well, this is what I know from my experience with ESI's and I hope it brings you relief. Take care
  • I have found that ESI's work well if you don't do any thing, if your job or just your life in general is physical at all then you may not have success. I have had a total of 6 injections 5 reg 1 caudal after the caudal I took a week off work and felt good even stopped all meds spent the week going through withdraws only to go back to work and have the pain return to pre injection level if not worse.Remember if it doesn't work after the first 3 you don't have to keep getting them just because the doc says they may work one of these days , poking unnecessary needles in your spine can cause scar tissue which can cause more pain . good luck and i hope it does work for you.
  • Hi,

    I am new to this herniated disc stuff too, and mine is an L5-S1 same as yours.

    I had my first epidural 2 weeks ago. It was not horrible at all. (and this was my very 1st experience with one; when my kids were born, I never had one because it was always "too late", darn!)

    I did not see a single needle, I did not feel anything more than a split second sting, and that was from the numbing medication. After that I felt pressure for about another 2 seconds.

    The whole thing was over in 10 minutes. I waited in the waiting room longer! I was not sedated, nor do I think it was even remotely necessary.

    And yes, it did help. It didn't eliminate the pain, but it did help. At first, I thought it did nothing and it was a waste of time. But, lo and behold about 4 days later I noticed a difference.

    Do yourself a favor and do not read the message boards about spinal injections, I was scared silly after reading them. It truly was not a bad experience. I am having another in two weeks and quite frankly I am looking forward to it.

    Hang in there, we WILL find relief from this!

  • I had 5 ESI's over a 14 month period and 3 sets of facet joint injections for the arthropy(arthritis) around the L5-S1 area and have less numbness and pain in my leg and foot. I also had trigger point injections for the muscle spasms in my back. All have helped somewhat for me without surgery. But I'm still not able to work because of the backpain. Good luck with your Epis. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Kelleygirl, do not be afraid of the ESI. They will almost always want to try this before surgery and there is a good chance it will work, especially if your L5-S1 rupture or herniation is not too large. I have had 4 ESI's and 2 selective nerve root blocks. The 4 ESI's were before my L5-S1 microdiscectomy and they were pretty easy. I had no sedation and it wasn't terribly painful. They kicked in after a couple days and helped alot with the pain for a few months but my rupture was way too big to heal so eventually I had to have the surgery anyway. The 2nd selective nerve root block shot I had to shrink scar tissue after the surgery was VERY PAINFUL though! I hate to admit it but I had tears in my eyes after that one.
  • Just wanted to wish you luck with your ESI!! I really hope they work for you.
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