I hurt my back at work just over a month ago. My MRI quotes:
"Degenerative disc changes and disc desiccation seen at L4/L5. Moderate bulging is seen with central annular tear and a somewhat broad-based central disc protrusion which narrows the canal to 7mm centrally."
I hurt my back and had severe left leg pain over a year ago. I tried PT and decompression but never got an MRI and the pain eventually went away after a few months. This time it is the right leg. This time I have seen a variety of doctors, one being a neurosurgeon who I went to on my own dime because Workers Comp wouldn't send me to a "neurosurgeon." No one that I have talked to up until this point has recommended the injections. The neurosurgeon put me on oral steroids for 6 days and that took at least 50% of my pain away with minimal regress so far(been off for about a week). As of now, I can manage the pain pretty good by standing and walking, but I would not last long going back to my labor intense job.
Well worker's comp sent me to an Orthopedic specialist yesterday and he pretty much said that this thing isn't going to get better on it's own and if I leave it alone, it will always cause me problems(I am 29). He offered either the injections(which he wasn't even very high on at all) or surgery. No other conservative forms of treatment were suggested. Worker's comp has already indicated that they would first make me get the shots.
I am new to this whole worker's comp thing and I don't know how much say they have in my treatment. I have been out of work for over a month and don't have health insurance. I have already been racking up some medical bills of my own for this problem and haven't gotten anything from worker's comp yet. So I am trying to be cooperative with them and go with the flow.
I would like to avoid the injections and obviously surgery. For the most part, everything I have been told and read says that the majority of disc herniations(80-90%) will heal or get better on their own within several weeks on up to a year. Generally it seems you should give it at least 3 months before trying more aggressive forms of treatment and surgery. This is of course contradicting what the Orthopedic said. I also read that the ESIs only provide relief to about 50% of patients and only 50% of the people with relief get long term relief. I also read about cases where the ESI actually makes the pain worse or causes other damage. Since the oral steroids seemed to help so far, I don't know whether or not the ESIs would be a good way to go. I am not looking for a temporary "fix" since this is my second time recently dealing with similar issues. I am worried that the ESI would make me feel pretty good, my worker's comp case would be settled, and I would be sent back to work only to have the steroids wear off and me be in worse pain than before. So if Worker's Comp does send me in for the injections, would there be any harm in trying them out? Sorry for the long post. It is my first one and I had to vent.