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New here w/ a lumbar disc herniation :(

Sadie83SSadie83 Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi everyone!

I suffered a work related injury back in early September that caused a lumbar disc herniation. I went through anti inflammatory and pain medications, as well as physical therapy. I had an MRI done 2 weeks ago and the orthopedic surgeon I was referred to told me I had a L5 disc herniation and is now sending me to get a selective nerve root block. I'm guessing that it's the famous ESI.. I could be wrong though. I've been told by all the doctors I've seen that they do not recommend surgery.

I'm 27 and the thought that I have to live with this for the rest of my life is so terribly stressful! I went through and read the spinal injection section of the forum and reading all of the side effects people have posted has me freaking out! I'm supposed to see the pain management doctor next week.

My question to those who also have lumbar disc herniation is, if surgery isn't recommended.. will I have to live my life getting these spinal injections? I haven't been able to go back to work since I got injured. I can't stand or walk for a long period of time because of the pain.

I feel so overwhelmed. :( After reading all of those side effects and seeing that most people seem to be suffering a whole new set of ailments in vain just doesn't seem worth it since most say the pain relief duration is short. But with my case having to go through workers comp, I don't know if I can turn down that treatment without it affecting the benefits that I'm betting.


  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can.. i don't have the answers you are looking for but i am sure some spineys will be by with some answers for you.. i am sure you want to get into some sort of liveable routine that will let you work and function each day.. the injections are not letting this happen for you!! the pain management doctor should be able to offer you other therapies..this could offer you new pain relief!! good luck to you! stop by the forum anytime! i hope you find pain relief soon! Jenny :)
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Everyone is so different. What works for one may not work for another..or it works twice and not the third time.

    Often times people who have found relief and get back to their life don't stick around to tell us how great they are doing. :) I say that to mean, the adverse effects you are reading are probably not balanced with the success that is out there.

    The injections I've had for lower back were effective. Injections for thoracic area...made me so sick, almost immediately. But lower back helps my legs so I'll take it. :)

    Keeping real clear communication with the doctor re' how you feel and what is effective..what's not.. so important. You getting to see pain management doc is great! Mine really understands me and has me with some level of relief.

    When I first got into this spinal mess...I had the treatments..felt better..and went back to life as usual..meaning I went back to lifting, twisting, turning..etc.

    So I eventually realized I needed change in my lifestyle. Stay aligned...stay aligned... :)

    Best of luck to you! Let us know how you do!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi

    5 years ago i also had L5 disc herniation I was in agony and ended up having a discectomy. This took some of the pain away but i was still left with alot of pain in my leg. I think i should have perhaps waited a while before having this operation but at the time i would have done anything to get rid of the pain. I am at present waiting for an MRI scan as it look as though the disc may have herniated again. I have had so much pain in my leg over the last three weeks and have not known what to do with my self. The doctor has now prescribed Gabapentin and this seems to have taken the edge of the pain. Have your tried this? If not i should give it a try. I am also thinking of having the spinal injections. A friend of mine has recently had a couple and thinks they are brilliant. He has had no side effects.I would be interested to learn how you go on. It is so horrible to feel like this isn't it.

  • Hi there--

    I am in a similiar boat-- waiting for my first injections next month-- and am scared silly about it. I also read alot of posts about injections.. and got a few chills.... I actually came to this board to find some postive people.. and I did:)

    I know everyone is individual. and we have to

    1- be our best advocate for ourselves-- and pro-active, research all you can-- this site is superb!!-- and make your "pro's and con's" list on therapies/ meds, treatments, etc.... (I believe Savage also mentioned to know how to communicate with your Dr. about your symptoms. Very important!!)

    I know my next step is injections- will give an answer to my symptoms and what the next steps may be for me. Keep positive-- keep moving as best as you can-- stretching, swimming, getting to know your body and limitations of lifting/twisting etc. the stronger your core is, the better "off" you are-- I try isometric exercises to strengthen my ab muscles.

    I totally, as do all of us on this site, know how it feels to have your life suddenly put on "pause", physically that is, and how challenging daily life can be. All around health-- nutrition, sleep, exercise--- we all know it!!, but have to DO it. The stronger you are all around can only benefit the future of your back!
    ps- I found out I can use a recumbent bike for a few minutes at a time- was suprised by that as sitting is hard- my injury is L5 also-- so maybe give one a try? It is helping my leg also:)
    Cheers to a new year full of healthy backs and bodies for us all!

  • Spam removed by Cath111 12/23/2011.
  • I had my first ESI this afternoon, the process was quick and not as bad as I thought it would be, but then again my doctor did give me something to help me "chill out" before the procedure.

    I got home about 5 hours ago, it's about 9:42pm now. Just woke up from a long nap, those pills made me soooo drowsy! I'm experiencing pain in my back (right side), I assumed that I'd have some discomfort but it feels like it did before I got the injection.

    I guess I'll see how I do tomorrow.
  • Glad to hear that your ESI went well-- i know tomorrow will be a great day for you too!:)
    Take it easy- and speedy recovery!:)
  • Hi there Sadie83,
    Im new here, and have taken a lot of comfort and information from reading other peoples advice/opinions/experiences, but when I read yours, I had to post!
    I have a herniated disk (L5) from a work-place injury also (March 2010) and have had two of the cortizone injections. The first one worked and relieved my pain a lot for about two months, but then it wore off. The other had no affect whatsoever, which was really disappointing.

    The experience of having the injections was really not that bad, it's over fairly quickly, and not too painful (especially compared to the constant pain Im in anyway...) and it is definitely worth trying the injections - because what if they work!
    There are a lot of negative comments on here regarding the injections, but like one of the other members very cleverly identified -the people who had success and positive experiences would probably not even think to visit a forum like this-for pain sufferers-if they no longer suffer from pain!

    Now, like you, I am left wondering what's next...
    They aren't reccomending surgery, and I am continuing to do the physical therapy they suggest. I am trying to avoid taking the valium they have prescribed,(I fear developing an addiction)and hate taking too many painkillers because they seriously mess with my tummy...and they all make me so tired, I feel like I have spent 18 Months as a zombie-on the sideline of what USED to be my life! (not to mention the moods and grumpiness...)

    But I have no idea what to do now, as I am on workers compensation (what an effing joke, a rant for another time I think...) the doctors and my work are trying to get me to 'sign off' -which I know they can't force me to do, but I am really feeling the pressure...I have taken less than a working week off from work this whole time-I have cost them practically nothing...Im not asking for anything for Free, I just want a plan. A doctor to be able to give me a timeframe. A treatment that might work. something... So now I just sign off? accept liability and cover all my future medical costs, with the prospect of the rest of my life suffering from chronic pain? Just keep calm and carry on? I dont know how long I could mentally last...I am only 25! I feel like a 60 year old woman! I just need to accept this? They've run out of ideas?

  • Thank you Sally711!

    leahemily, I'm really sorry to hear that you're having to deal with all of this as well! I agree with you that a lot of people that have positive results probably forget about this forum. But oh my, reading through all of the negative experiences sure had me freaking out. So far I'm in a bit of discomfort, but it's more because of the shot location. I definitely feel a big difference as far as pain goes; it's nearly all gone. (a discomfort feeling here and there now)

    Is your physical therapy helping you? I found that it helped me feel less stiff when I woke up in the mornings, plus getting a massage every week was really nice! Especially after dealing with all the negative thoughts and feelings that come along with an injury like this! Especially during the holidays, it's left me feeling so down about myself and all that I'm going through.

    So far they've only prescribed Tramadol for me, I'm afraid of the stronger narcotics myself. So I will still to these as much as I can.

    You've been able to work this whole time? What is it that you do? If you don't mind me asking. I haven't been able to go back to work at all since my injury. I can't stand for longer that 15 minutes without the pain intensifying and the same goes for sitting. My doctor said that might be because of spinal stenosis. I'm sure I've cost my employer's insurance company A LOT so far!

    When you say that they want you to "sign" off, do you mean that the insurance company has offered you a settlement? And you're right, they can't force you to do it. If you're unhappy with the doctor you've been seeing, have you requested your one time change yet? Recently they gave me a new case manager that could go to appointments with me. I asked her why they changed, she said it the insurance companies do that when they see a case that won't be resolved for a while. Guess I might be in the long haul like you have been.

    If they're harassing you about it, you should definitely speak to a Workers Comp lawyer. You got hurt on the job and now it's their responsibility to help you out. Earlier this month, I had a problem with mine, I didn't get a WC check. It took tons of calls and messages to my adjuster to find out why. I was *SO* close to lawyering up, but I finally got a call back and the issue was cleared up.

    Don't let them pressure you into anything. If they offer a settlement, have them send you a copy of all they have spent since you got hurt. That way you can see the amount and compare it to how man years worth of treatment the money they're offering would last you for. I really hate dealing with all of this! Those companies don't care about us at all, they just want cases closed to save money.
  • Hi Sadie and welcome to Spine-Health.

    I just want to clarify something you said in your initial post. A nerve block injection is not an ESI. Generally, nerve blocks are diagnostic to see if a rhizotomy (nerve burn) will be effective in getting your nerve(s) to quit hurting. An ESI is a whole different animal - it's not diagnostic and is a procedure, a "cure" so to speak.

    So it's possible that your doc is testing your nerve(s) to see if a rhizotomy will be effective for you in the future.

    Just thought I'd clear that up.

    Take care,
  • Thank you for clearing that up Cath111. In all honestly, I always go into my doctor visits feeling so overwhelmed. I sit there and I ask all the questions and get answers. They explain things to me, but it just doesn't seem to stick. All of the terminology gets me so lost.

    Where do they do the ESI and where do they do a nerve block? I know that what I got yesterday was a steroid and they did a "live X-ray" so he could see where the needle was. I could have sworn the doctor said it was an ESI, but I assumed that the injection would go in my spine and what I got yesterday was more like any shot you'd have on your rear. (at least that's where the small bandage was placed.

    This is all so very confusing. :(
  • Doctors will do an ESI or a nerve block wherever it's needed. The ESI is an Epidural Steroid Injection, intended to relieve pain due to sciatica or simply pain in any part of the spine. Here's a link for more comprehensive information:


    A nerve block, as I said, is generally diagnostic to find a specific source of nerve pain to determine if burning away that nerve will relieve the pain. Here's a link for more comprehensive info on that:


    As for my experience, in my lumbar spine, I had stenosis (nerve compression), a bulging disc at L4/5, facet problems and spondylolisthesis. I got an ESI for the bulging disc that helped the pain coming from that (sciatic pain, pain down the back of both legs). However, I still had hip, buttock and a wider pain down the back of both legs down to my knees. That was from the stenosis and facet issues. So they did a nerve block and facet injection, the nerve block to see if a rhizotomy would be beneficial and the facet injection to see if they could get the inflamation down in those joints. Neither of those injections worked, thus the need for surgery. (As it turned out, my lumbar was much more unstable than the doctor originally had thought and was glad I had the surgery when I did.)

    Hope this helps.
  • Hi Sadie,
    I used to be a kitchen-hand -that's where I did my injury. I kepy working through the pain for months, while my neglegent doctor assured me that my injury was all muscular and refused to do any scans...and my physio told me the same. I was supposed to be on 'light duties' but it was all about the budget, so nobody was there to do the things I wasn't meant to be doing-lifting, bending etc. I wish I could go back with the information I have now, and actually step in and get myself taken care of and listened to, but I know that dwelling on the feelings of neglect I have from that time (from the medical folks and myself) just causes me extra anxiety on top of the rest of my problems!
    After I finally got scans and found out that my pain actually wasn't a sign of my weakness, but from a herniation and 2x disc bulges, I finally put my foot down and the company I work for has moved me to a desk job. This move has come with a massive amount of new problems. The fact that my pain is so much worse when Im sitting down, for one. I struggle to concentrate on my work, and am pretty unproductive.(my colleagues 'joke' about how bad I am at my job-c'mon, from hospitality to purchasing/finance??! what did they expect?! -they never saw me when I was healthy and had the work ethic I was raised to value...The girls I used to work with are still dear friends, because they saw my transformation from hard working always lend a hand and do my best -me, to the grimacing upset tired worn-out pain-suffering me...)I know that if I had been given the time off initially, I would have had a better chance of recovering. I feel like this has seriously taken over my whole life. I am so frustrated that I have to sit here in excrutiating pain, accomplishing nothing, when I should be at home. With the time to do my exercises and stretches and heal. NOBODY here (Im at work now...) has any idea of the pain I suffer. I have tried to explain it to them, but they really dont care enough to bother trying to understand it, all they see is that I mean more work for them, because they have to 'pick up my slack'.
    The insurance company have been paying for a psychologist, which has really helped me come to terms with living with this pain and the changes all this trauma has meant in my life. She tells me that I need to be more assertive, and to put myself first, and be the 'squeaky wheel' to make sure I have the situation and care and consideration that I deserve. This is all really good advice, and I see that she is right, but when I have taken days off for my pain, I get the third degree, and the company injury statistics are discussed. I hate that I have to explain and justify every pain and allowance that I need. As if I am using the workers comp system for some kind of gain... People forget that compensation is not free. It is not at all in my character to be the bother that my therapist says that I need to be... But I feel like I am getting better at asking for what I need. (I sometimes have to kneel at my desk because it hurts too much to sit, and the people at work look at me like I am just trying to get attention. And I hold in my tears-from pain And frustration-until I am in the car on the way home, because I dont want them to see my weakness. Stupid, I know!)

    My injury management consultant (who gets paid the most rediculous amount to do a minimal amount of work...) is currently arranging a work trial and training as a barista (coffee maker). I have already had a lot of experience in this kind of work, and I have everything crossed that my back will hold up. I am so afraid that I will get back in to my familiar hospitality environment, where I can get some satisfaction for the hours I trade away for money, only for my pain to stop me.
    It has been the deciding factor on almost every decision in my life for the last 21 months, and I really want to steer my own life for a while... But the fear of worsening my condition is causing me a lot of anxiety... (therapist says I need to let go of the things I can't control...good advice, hard in practice!)
  • (as if my last post wasn't long enough...)
    Yep, the insurance company have offered me a settlement (which is nowhere near enough to cover my costs over the next few years)
    so I am in the market for a good lawyer... am not going to start that battle until I have changed jobs and know what the future is there...
    It is horrible that with all everything we are going through, it all comes down to money. Such a sad world :(
  • I'm so sorry that you're having to go through all of that! :( Does your doctor list anything about standing or sitting on your restrictions list? I know when I first got hurt, he just put the the usual, no lifting/bending/twisting, so I went to work and was only able to stay there for 15 minutes. I went back to see my doctor right after leaving work. I told him that I'd gone to work and was unable to do anything because standing and walking around made the pain even worse so he have me a new restrictions list saying that I could only stand for no more that 15 minutes at a time and I had to do sedentary work. They couldn't meet that so I've been stuck at home since then.

    I'm glad that they're giving you the opportunity to do a job that you like. But won't a barista need to be on their feet the entire shift? This is just my opinion, but maybe you should go to the doctor and tell him that you absolutely can't stand or sit for long without being in terrible pain. I'm not sure what state you're in, but they might offer some kind of vocational training so you can find a job that won't have you in pain all day long.
  • on another note, I got my 2nd ESI today and it hurt so much more than the first. I had this electrical/burning sensation shooting down the entire front side of my leg, from my thigh down to my toes. I was crying/sobbing and making a total fool out of myself while on the table. :(

    Anyone know if that feeling is common? Ugh I didn't like it at all! Now I'm limping around, when I apply pressure, my leg aches and my hip hurts as well.
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