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what should I do? I need suggestions!

Hello everyone
I had a MRI in December showing Degenerative Disc Disease and 3 bulging discs between C-4 and C-5, C5-C6, C6-C7.
I went through 5 weeks of physical therapy and had ups and downs during it. I do feel better as I have bought a Saunders home traction unit and have been using that along with trying to stretch the area and exercise it. Anyway I went from a pain level of about a 7 or 8 and have been pretty consistent with a pain level between 1 and 4 since. Although the pain is not that high, it is very annoying.

I went back to see the neurosurgeon and he still suggests that I have the Epidural steroid injection. I have done a lot of reading and here all these horror stories about these injections and I am supposed to have my first injection tomorrow but I am not sure I should go through with it. It seems like this might go ahead and give me the extra boost to getting back to normal.

My wife is friends with the neurosurgeon’s Physician assistant and that is who I had seen and he recommends me get them. He is a very good guy and I don’t think he would steer me wrong but I am still unsure of it.
Can anyone make me feel better about the process?

Thanks for any info you want to share.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 03/13/2014 - 7:00 AM
  • There are a lot of horror stories on here about things that can go wrong. I have had 2 of the epidural injections and I also had 2 facet injections, both are xray guided but the facet injections go on the upper and lower facet joints of each joint (I had a total of 36 injections for each facet block). I honestly didn't get any relief from them but I wanted to try. I know a lot of people that have had them and never had any pain since then. There are people that tell you its only a band aid and people that tell you it will make things worse. What it does is it reduces the pain so you can go through physical therapy and return to your normal life while your body tries to heal itself. If my doctor was to tell me that one more would take my pain away I would tell him to do it now.

    They aren't really that painful, you feel a lot of pressure. I wasn't sedated or drugged in any way except where they numb the area to do the injection. I drove home myself with the doctors permission and they told me to resume my normal daily life as much as I could. You take a chance with everything you do, you could get the flu and infections from getting the flu shot. I don't think of an epidural as a bad thing, I would take one in a heart beat. Good luck
  • Thanks jbnms99

    I do hate needles and to be honest that is what probably scares me the most. It will be guided with floroscopy or whatever it is called. I am going to take a valium before i go in, hopefully that will do the trick.
  • I also hate needles!!! The first one I was freaked out and my wife called me a wuss. It wasn't bad and you don't see the needle (probably for a reason). You feel a pinch then some pressure and it's done. I've had labs that hurt worse. Take the Valium if you need to but it'll be ok!
  • Well I went through with the injection and I have to say the Dr that did it, did a great job. It was a piece of cake as I barely even felt the first one and after that I felt the pressure right about the area that my body has been telling me the problem is. It felt pretty good. That was Friday and now it is Sunday. I think that it is helping! I am going to start doing my own PT at home and see if I can get through this with good results.

    Thanks everyone, I will keep you updated
  • I just had my ACDF done 72 hours ago and i feel great. Even thought it was a single level discectomy i hope to give you some insight. I will attach my thread so you can read what my experiences are. I would advice you to go see multiple NS's and see whtat their opinions are. If you DDD and bone spurs are growing towards the spinal cord it will cause alot of discomfort. I have done every alternative treatments oit there from epidural shots (3x), PT, massage, accupuncture, cold and heat packs, tense units and traction. Consulted with 3 chiropractors 2 out of the 3 said they did not want to touch me because it will make it worse. The third said some crazy notion that he can use the traction unit like a vaccum and suck back in the disc nucleus that herniated out and if that did not work after 6 months of treatments he would recommend surgery. Hearing that I still had to get surgery done i was not convinced he could help me. Since non of them worked, it actually made it feel worse. My last resort is surgery. So here I am 72 hours since my surgery and I feel great.

  • I am glad that you had the epidural and it has made you feel better. I know the thought of that huge needle and it being so close to your spinal cord it nerve racking but I believe in them. You have done your physical therapy long enough in the office that you shouldn't have any trouble doing the same thing at home, just be sure not to overdue it. Your body will tell you if you are, listen to it. Best of luck to you and hopefully you won't have any more problems out of it. My doctor told me that I should expect a minimum of 6 weeks relief from it. I really hope you get that.
  • Well my wonderful health insurance denied my second injection :-( I just cant believe how they can sit there and play doctor for me and dictate everything about my health. I am not real happy with them!
  • My 2nd about 2 weeks. I felt so good the day after the 2nd one, I took the kids school shopping & walked the whole mall, something I hadn't done in forever. Some people can get relief for up to a year, some get none at all. You describe your between 1 - 4 & annoying more than anything else. If this doesn't last long, you may want to consider whether or not you want to do any more procedures. If you are no more than a 4, though the help of some pt, you are in good shape. I hope the epidural continues to work well for you.
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • Michael_BMichael_B Posts: 23
    edited 04/15/2014 - 1:25 AM
    I read several comments from people who claim 30 years of living with cervical bulges, without the need to have surgery (one stated 'pain comes and goes over the years'). I wonder if they lived periods of complete pain free or were always at some annoying 1+.
  • mikeymikemmikeymike Posts: 21
    edited 05/19/2014 - 6:26 PM
    Well I wanted to report the progress that I have been having. I contacted a second opinion at a place in OKC and they looked over my MRI and said that I was in definite need of surgery and all 3 of my discs were herniated and I would be a great candidate for their laser spine surgery.
    So this is a little different diagnosis than the previous surgeon. So I go to another Surgeon here in Wichita and he looked over my MRI more than the first one by far and also did some x-rays.
    He set me down and looked at it with me and he asked me lots of questions and did a lot of other techniques and tells me that I am nowhere close to needing surgery and my muscles are the problem and gave me a script for getting Physical Therapy again.
    He told me you can take this to whomever you like and get this started and that they have good PT there at the office but in no means did I have to use their PT’s.
    Well I started doing research on good PT’s and I finally called a friend that had multiple surgeries and he said that the ones at that office are the best by far and recommended me go there.
    So I did and I am now on week 3 with them and I can tell you I honestly feel that I will be back to 99% when they are done. I really liked this surgeon because he did not try to sale me on their PT’s and said I could go other places. But going to theirs is night and day compared to the ones I had gone to before in my small town. I am really feeling GOOD!
    I hope it the progress continues.


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  • jbnms99jjbnms99 Posts: 182
    edited 05/20/2014 - 6:22 AM
    I bet you are so relieved that you will avoid surgery. I wish I would have had that luck. I knew right off when I started my pt that it wasn't going to work, they tried everything they knew to try and couldn't get my muscles to relax for more than a couple minutes. I looked into that laser surgery before I had my surgery and I didn't hear very many good things about it. I heard that it does more harm than good. It surprises me that they wanted to do surgery on you right away, that alone would have made me think twice about them. Glad you found a doctor that wasn't about that almighty dollar and was williing to help you out! It's hard to find a doctor that isn't out for the money anymore.
  • I agree with you jbnms99. You got very lucky you do not have to go through surgery. How you been by the way jbnms99? I have been mia for a few weeks. Been trying new meds and walking more but the pain has come back a little bit.
  • blk5189bblk5189 Posts: 1
    edited 06/03/2014 - 8:35 PM
    I have had the epidural injection one time it did not help. I to had a herniated disc of c4 - 7. I had surgery on 14May14 and I feel great, the surgery wasn't bad at all. I had to wear a neck brace for two weeks and couldn't drive for 2 weeks. the most pain I expirenced was from the position I was in during surgery on my back my shoulders were sore. I had inpinged nerves that are still bothersome but I realize that after being impinged for almost 2 years it will take time for the to heal. I live alone and found that it wasn't hard at all after I got home from the hospital. I spent 1 night. I had an excellent dr. xxxx. I hope this helped..

    Post edited to remove name of specific doctor. by Liz The Spine-Health Moderator Team
  • I bet you're glad you had that surgery done, I know when I had mine done it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I did everything I could to avoid the surgery but a needle just wasn't going to fix it. I did 2 of the epidural injections and 2 facet blocks (they put some kind of medicine in every joint on both sides of my spine from c1 to t3 I think it was 36 injections). I didn't get any relief from any of the injections.
    After 2 years of having impingment I would be surprised if you didn't have some kind of permanent nerve damage, I was told not to wait for any longer than a year and that would be pushing it. I was terrified that the pain would never go away.
    I had acdf on March 19th and my guess is that I am about 90% back to normal. I am finally starting to sleep through the night again and if I take it slow I can do just about anything I want to (within reason). I am mowing the yard, trimming trees, pressure washing outside, raking leaves...I guess I shouldn't be pushing it like that but the way I look at it is i'm not really stressing the fused section too much and maybe with what stress I am putting on it it'll heal stronger. My biggest complaint is muscle pain, I have lots of pain in my shoulder blades but I think it is from being down for so long, I couldn't even lift a cup of coffee before my surgery. I lost soooo much muscle mass from being down that it is a lot of work to get it back up to where it was. My wife noticed it this past weekend when I was working outside, she said "I seen you struggle with that and I have never seen you struggle"
    My surgeon told me that the nerve pain should subside but I will get shocks once in a while during the healing process and that the healing of nerves usually takes a year minimum. He said the muscle weakness will also go away but to take things slow.
    Good luck with your recovery!
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