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ESI recovery time?

FarmgrrlFFarmgrrl Posts: 146
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Spinal Injections
Hi all,

I was a member of these forums about 2 years ago...I had an epidural injection in Oct '07 followed by a discectomy at L4-L5 in Dec '07. After a pretty successful recovery and 2 relatively trouble-free years, I'm back to where I started. Back pain and sciatica are back...so I returned to my pain mgmt doc last week. I am scheduled for an MRI tomorrow morning and an ESI on Thursday morning.

My question is: How long was your recovery time? I'm concerned because I am off from work on Thursday but I am supposed to work Friday and Saturday nights for 12 hour shifts (I am a nurse). Is it reasonable to expect that I will be able to work this weekend?

Your responses are greatly appreciated!



  • Welcome back to the board, but sorry you are having some problems again.

    It really depends how you respond to the ESI. I have had some where I felt fine afterward, and one other where I could hardly get off the couch for a week.

    I recently switched pain management doctors. This one insists that his patients stay off their feet for at least 48 hours, and preferably 72 hours after an injection. This allows the medication to have the maximum impact. If, after the injection, the patient resumes normal activity, the heart pumps harder, and the blood flows faster, making the medication dissipate more quickly.

    If you could take the days off, you would give the steroid the best chance of impacting the troublesome area.
  • I'm planning on talking to the doctor too...He'll pretty much have the final say I guess but I wasn't sure what to expect. With my last injection, I remember having the 3 days following off but that was by chance/convenience. The relief I got only lasted 2 days but I was pretty much resigned to the fact that I was going to have surgery at that point. I'm hoping that the results of the MRI are positive and would like this injection to be as successful as possible!
  • I had two ESI's last spring and had no pain or discomfort to speak of, just a little soreness at the injection site. Mine were cervical, though, so that may make a big difference, I don't know. The injections did nothing for my nerve pain, but that wasn't the point of your question. ;) I hope the injection helps your symptoms.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I don't remember hurting at all from the procedure...I DO remember feeling pretty happy afterwards actually! The Xanax they gave me to relax was really kicking in by the time I walked out the door!

    I am just a little concerned due to the type of job I have and the hours I have to work. I'm trying not to worry too much about it but I don't want to be caught by surprise either!
  • I just had my ESI at the beginning of the month and oddly, I was fine for the 2 days following the injection and THEN started having problems/side effects that pretty much wiped me out for the next 3 days.

    I think the real answer to the question is that nobody knows. Things can vary so much from person to person and from time to time.

    Good luck though and I hope it helps!
  • based on my MRI pics the MD decided to try to do the injection at L5-S1 in order to treat both L4-L5 & L5-S1 (with the hope of maybe treating L3-L4 as well). Well the foramen wasn't cooperating..not at all! After some tears & teeth clenching she decided it wasn't gonna happen. So she injected me again at L4-L5. Doing OK...slept at my mom's house this afternoon and drove home about an hour ago. Just feeling tired, a little sore and a bit of a headache.

    I talked to her about activity restrictions and she took me off work for my shifts this weekend. My boss isn't too happy with me, but what else can I do?
  • Hey, I am so sorry that your boss is not too happy with you. Maybe when it is her turn she will feel somewhat different.

    Anyhow, I have had lots and lots of ESI's and the later ones were Caudallly administered. That for me was a far more accurate method of delivery of steroid mixed with 1% Markaine or Lidocaine. It was also far less painful than any of the ESI's that I had previously. Additionally, when they delivered the medication at the L/3 L/4 level it seemed to take care of L/5 and S/1 too by the very token that the medication seemed to filter downwards. I just thought that I would mention this to you as you seem to have problems in similar areas to me. By the way I always got instant relief from this method too.

    I wish you well and pain free soon and may I also thak you for your dedication to nursing. I appreciate every one of you guys.

    Take Care

    John B
  • I just had my third one done Monday and I'm still in so much pain its hard for me to even walk. This is my third ESI and I got it done at L5 S1 and this may be my last one.

    For me they always put me out for the first week and then start taking effect, but I have never had this much pain with one. Hopefully this means that they got the right spot and will be getting relief soon??? Hope all is well with you and good luck.
  • Nursing definitely has its ups and downs but I couldn't imagine doing anything else...unfortunately, we are usually treated like we work at Burger King; especially when it comes to absenteeism. The ONLY excused absences are if you or your child is hospitalized. Doctor's notes & requirements mean nothing. Hence, I am in the process of applying for Intermittent FMLA :) My hopes are riding high on this injection or future injections working out well for me. I can't afford to have surgery. I will lose my job as I already missed 7 1/2 weeks of work this summer due to a liver surgery I had to have.

    So...kind of feeling the pressure that this must work but I'm still feeling good! Only needed 2 tyelenol, 1 vicodin and 1 zanaflex yesterday. No meds today.

    My only other ESI was in '07 and it hurt nothing like yesterday! The first one in '07 I just felt the bee-sting of the lidocaine then maybe just a bit of pressure. The doc yesterday really felt transforaminal would be more effective than caudal for me so I went along with it. I totally understood her desire to go in at L5-S1, it made sense to me. We just didn't know that the space in the foramen was so tight. It makes me very curious to see my MRI report, hoping they compare the actual films from '07 to see if the stenosis is much worse.

    For now, just taking it easy, walking somewhere every day (nothing strenuous, just don't want to lay on the couch) and hoping for the best!

  • she actually should understand the most...she had her own fusion about 20 years ago and she's once again having sciatica issues again herself! I think she wants me to tough it out...I just can't take that risk!
  • I hope you find some relief soon! Have your previos ESI's worked well for you? I'm hoping that because my herniation doesn't appear to be as large this time that it will work better for me this time. Maybe the doc got a little too close to the nerve and accidentally irritated it a bit much?
  • I never knew that nurses were treated in that way. You are "angels" and they should not treat you like that. You deserve better. For Heavens sake what country are you in?

    I will pray for you and I wish you well of course, but I am absolutely amazed that your boss is so uncaring, bearing in mind that she has been there so to speak.

    My personal experience of Caudal delivery was excellent, but I suppose that you have to go with the doc.

    Take lots of care... Please

    John B
  • Just a crazy thought, but have you tried acupuncture at all? Our spines are very vascular and can develop plaque and other "blockages" that can lead to an increase in pain and a decrease in the effectiveness of other treatments (like ESI's). Acupuncture works to restore the body's natural flow of energy and can target specific areas. To give you an idea of how useful it is in restoring good circulation, it is very effective in the treatment of menstrual cramps and back pain from them. If it is available in the hospital you work at, it would be a great way to "duck out on lunch break" and get a quick fix.

    Hope it doesn't sound too dorky, because it really does work!

  • Actually, my pain mgmt doc also specializes in acupuncture and she has done it on my back in the past (2 years ago before surgery). I was thinking some of the same as well, having lots of tenderness around my neck/shoulder/thoracic area in the last couple of days...I'm seeing her next week so I'm gonna ask!

  • I would be curious to see what she has to say. Please keep us posted!

  • I had my appointment with my pain doc today. Since my epidural almost 2 weeks ago, I've been on a little bit of a roller coaster. Days 1-3 post injection were pretty good, then on days 4-7 I was in a bit more pain but it was definitely toerable. Days 8-10 were better again then days 11-12 (today) I noticed increasing sciatica pain again! My lower back ache and stiffness is better by 90% but it seems like my sciatica pain comes and goes as it pleases. I've also been having a lot of left lower leg pain where my muscles next to my outer shin are very sore and painful to touch.

    She did three trigger points with accupuncture needles to my lower leg muscles. Then She had me flip on my tummy and I had three trigger points to my left thigh and hip, and two more in my back. It was great for about an hour but we had to do a little shopping and I noticed my lower leg started to hurt the same as before but my sciatic pain was OK. I took a nap for the afternoon and woke up with some really nasty sciatica again.

    I went ahead and scheduled another ESI, so I go back next Wednesday! I did inquire about a more effective med for the sciatic pain (especially because I have to go off NSAIDS in preparation for the ESI's) so she gave me a script for Elavil. I'm starting at 25mg/day and will work my way up to 75mg/day over the next two weeks.

    I can say that this ESI seems to have been much more effective than the only one I had previously in '07.
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