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RFA, Epidural, Facet et injections not working

I am a 51 yr old female. I was diagnosed with bulging disc L5, Spinal degeneration up the middle of my back and tailbone broken in two places that had not healed due to the amount of arthritis. 1st break was when I was only 7 yrs old at the bottom of the tailbone, second break apx 6 yrs ago is at the top of the tailbone.
After going from doctor to doctor trying to find help, I was put with a pain management doctor. He said he thought he could save me ten yrs before having to have surgery either by injections and if that did not work he also mentioned a spinal cord stimulater.
I began with injections in my back last January. I have had epidurals, RFA, facet injections, blocks and probably a couple other types of injections I just do not recall at this moment. I really have not experienced any pain relief nor relief of symptoms this whole time. In fact this past June/July I had RFA done again and since the first side was done in June, I have experienced even more pain and new type pain. Previously my pain was in the middle of my lower back, my left buttock with shooting/aching pains going down the back of both legs and even under my feet. Bending over at certain degrees also aggravated this pain and the tailbone pain was constant.Most of the pain is more noticeable on my left side than the right even though both sides are involved.
After having RFA done on the right side in June, all of the sudden I have felt weak and new aching/burning type pain in the fronts of my thighs as if I had ran a marathon uphill completely out of shape! If I stand in place for more than 5 minutes, I begin to feel so weak that I might collapse. When I mentioned this to my pain dr at the next appointment for RFA on my left side, he just told me to give it a week and things should be much better, however this has not been the case.
I've seriously been using my grandmothers walker in my home just in case I do begin to collapse as there is no one else here with me should something happen as such.
A few months back at a regular appointment with my pain dr, I brought up the spinal cord stimulater and at that time, he was not nearly as enthusiastic about it as he was in the beginning, stating he did not believe it would help my back, only my legs. After having read up on these spinal cord stimulaters, from what I understand, they do indeed help back pain.
I am just sitting here wondering what other treatment options are there when the injections do not work and have actually made things worse. I will say the ganglion block he did for my tailbone I do believe has helped but other than that nothing else has.
One thing I do want to mention is I am type 2 diabetic. Prior to beginning all these injections, my blood sugar was very well under control-to the point I rarely even had to take a pill and that only when I had been naughty and over done it with sweets or carbs. Since beginning the injections my sugar has went sky high and it seems I finally get it under control just right before I have yet more injections and around n around I go with the blood sugar battle.
Sorry for such a long post but wanted to try to explain my situation accurately. Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my post and offer any helpful hints/tips/advice.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • back pain. Increases in blood sugar levels are a common side effect, since the steroids cause the blood sugar plasma levels to rise for a few days. That can be managed by watching your diet and increasing your medications if needed. Talk to your internist about what to do during the spikes in blood sugar.
    Here is a link to a thread about the steps in getting chronic back pain treated. It might help you to see what the other options are. http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-treatment-step-step
  • EMS GuyEEMS Guy Posts: 916
    edited 11/05/2013 - 7:12 AM
    It's important to remember that each person can react differently with injections than others. With everything I've been through with my back, facet joint injections do help with the amount of pain I have. They didn't work for crap before surgery, but since having surgery and developing arthritis all along my lumbar region, the facet joint injections have reduced the amount of pain I have. I have also had RFA done twice and really didn't get much relief from that. Unfortunately, with chronic pain much of your treatment will be trial and error. The best advice I can give is maintain a good relationship with your PM doc and staff. But up front and honest about what's working and what's not working.

    Has your doc tried any PT with you or has he/she relied solely on injections? Even though I've never done it, some folks on this site (Dilauro for one) has had good results with acupuncture and other alternative treatments. Maybe this could be something to consider.

    Best of luck!
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • plays a huge role in whether or not there will be pain relief. Injections are usually done for two reasons- the first being diagnostic, in that, if the medications injected bring some pain relief, then the doctor knows that he is in the correct area. The second purpose is one of treatment options- meaning that if the injections work to relieve the pain and inflammation in the area, then it can help determine the path for the next step- pain relief from facet injections = radio frequency ablations possibly might be an option that may help the patient......
    No relief, then the facet injections may not have found the correct cause of the pain you are having and they may need to continue looking.
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