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can you all help make sense of my unending back problems?

edited 11/12/2014 - 11:38 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hey Everyone,

I've been lurking around here for weeks and decided now is the time to post. This is going to be long. Thanks in advance for reading and for sharing your experiences here.

Basically I've had lower back pain on and off since I was in high school (I'm 27 now), but it wasn't until 2011 that it really went "out." Got an MRI then that showed a herniation between L4 and L5. After a couple months I was able to get back to normal after extreme pain sitting down and not being able to walk right (I was actually fired for taking too many days off--probably saved me cause I had time to recover!). My pain radiated from my back into my right thigh. Heating pads were good and I could lie on my back if my legs were propped up right.

Flash forward to January 2014. I got some kind of virus that weakened me a lot, and at some point coughed my way to a pain flare-up in my back. It felt like something "clicked" out in there. From January on I haven't been able to lie on my stomach or back, nor sit for very long. Pain radiates down my right leg all the way to my foot. I found walking was helpful, though. I tried physical therapy, but didn't improve, so was referred to a billion different specialists who didn't give much insight. Tried massage and two different acupunturists. The massage therapist and one acupuncturist wouldn't let me pay because they couldn't help me--and these were highly regarded folks.

Then at some point in the summer things got worse and I was waking up in EXTREME pain and having to take longer and longer to walk it off. Taking a shower even hurt, as the hot water running on my thigh was increasing the now chronic pain and tingling down my leg--no heating pads for me. Another round of PT only increased the inflammation. My osteopath put me on a taper-down of oral steroids for about 10 days and it was like magic: at the end of August I was feeling 70% better. Then it faded away. We decided it was finally time for an ESI.

In September I went to NYXXXXXXX for my epidural (again, highly regarded place), and they must have hit a nerve cause holy moly I had the WORST pain shoot down my leg when they inserted the needle. Must have been a 9/10 or 10/10 on the pain scale. I physically couldn't keep still and they refused to hold me down so no medicine for me. They had the audacity to blame this on my anxiety. Nice. I went to a different place to get the shot completed, where they assured me that wouldn't happen. They were right in that the injection went smoothly. I felt a bit of relief about 6 days letter (sitting on the subway again!), but then pain crept back.

I took a work trip to NOLA last month thinking I could deal with the plane ride. When I got there symptoms were in full swing again and I decided to cut my trip short and get the second ESI 2 weeks earlier than planned, on Oct 24 (so it was 2 weeks after the first instead of a month). The shot itself was a little more painful, and when I left I began to feel pain at the injection site, kinda like when you feel pain in your arm after a flu shot. Problem was it didn't go away and it felt like my muscles or nerves or something were all locked up. I ended up trapped in bed and barely able to move. About 2 weeks later and I am able to stand, but I'm still very crooked. I can walk a bit, but I've had to take some harrowing taxi rides to doctors offices and one ambulance ride to the ER (on Halloween, but not the result of anything fun) yielding in some percocet and another round of steroids. It's been incredibly painful--first time I've wanted to die because of physical symptoms.

Should be noted that I've never had numbness/paralysis, any problems with bathroom functions and I always pass the strength tests. For this reason my pain doc (one who gave epidurals) doesn't think surgery is appropriate. She also doesn't know what happened with the second shot. The docs all don't seem to get that my pain is now altered since then. In the past couple of days I have also had some pelvic pain. The pain doc wants me to go through with the third epidural in a couple of weeks.

Has anyone had any similar experiences? Should I get a third epidural?? I'm desperate for insight from others who "get it" and are not going to ask if I've tried yoga...


Post edited to remove specific medical institute.

Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator 11/12/14 17:38


  • Hi, just a guy having a back nightmare too. There's a lot to read. So if you have a herniated disc at L4 L5 does the mri scan show impinging on the root nerve, which is giving you sciatica? I then assume that you are having the nerve blocks as an investigation to see if surgery will work? whats the point in having them for tempory pain relief when it isn't solving your problem. Yoga, massage ain't gonna help you. Oh yes and needle in a root nerve is definitely a 10/10
    G j Pook
  • pookygppookyg Posts: 2
    edited 11/13/2014 - 10:01 AM
    Whats the point in having a third shot unless it's because the first two were done in different areas, which didn't work? Yes, I know exactly where your coming from when you say you didn't want to be here any more from continuous severe back pain. What pain killers are you takintaking and have tried in the past?
    G j Pook
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