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Epidural L5-L4

TricTTric Posts: 5
edited 11/30/2014 - 6:36 AM in Lower Back Pain
I'm new to this forum and really amazed at some of the stories. I am not alone... I've been diagnosed with genetic DDD since 15. Was told at 32 that I had the back of a 70 yr old. Am now 50 and very tired of the whole thing...aren't we all though? I've been getting the x-Ray guided epiidurals for some years now. The last one in March was excruciatingly painful. I actually heard someone screaming only to realize it was me!
My pain is worse yet again and I'm afraid this time to get the procedure. I take the pain pills, muscle relaxants etc..stretch as much as possible. I stand at work all day and my legs are getting weaker. already had facet joint surgurey about 7 yrs ago to release the nerves. The entire lumbar and S1are effected and have stenosis. No longer a candidate for surgery. Have been told " this is classic DDD. I can't help you" by two surgeons. Currently see a physiatrist for pain management as well as a psychiatrist for depression..go figure! What are the types of pain management have you tried and have they worked for you?


  • Hi Tric. We sound like we're in a similar chronic pain boat. Ugh! I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis as a young teen. Doesn't it get on your nerves (pun intended) when they say arthritis & DDD are 'normal wear & tear'?? Mine started before I had the chance to wear or tear anything AND there's definitely nothing 'normal' about my pain!! The whole "you have the spine of an 80 year old" thing is silly too. My 89 year old aunt can run rings around me! ;-)

    Do the epidurals usually really help you? I used to have a lot with very mixed results. Sometimes they were easy-peasy & other very painful. My first clinic used to completely sedate me for everything...wow it was a shock the first time I had one without!! I've now been told there's not anything they can help with anymore. Have you had any nerve burning (RFA) I've had a lot of them. They really help some people. Have you had diagnostic shots to see how much pain your SI joint is generating?

    I've read a lot of studies that found chronic pain causes physical changes in the brain, decreased gray matter etc. just search 'chronic pain brain'. I know it sounds silly but telling myself that depression & anxiety isn't my fault, it's just my brain! Really helps me. I used to get depressed more because I blamed myself for not being stronger & just getting over it. Chronic pain & depression go hand in hand.
    Anyway... Reading that info led me to findings that meditation & focus can increase gray matter. I don't know how effective it is but I learnt to meditate & use aromatherapy oil blends (they're nice & help a little). I also study new things. Obsess over new hobbies that involve a lot of online research. I don't know about my 'gray matter' but the distraction is fantastic therapy. I'm obsessive so focusing on my pain & 'those' thoughts is a nightmare for me. Even being an active member here, chatting with friends & posting on the forums helps me.

    I'm not a surgical candidate either. I've seen a LOT of surgeons (I'm obsessive) but I still think its worth having consults, particularly when things change. I see a board certified neuro surgeon. I have regular MRIs & work at chipping away at the pain generators I can do something about. I'm working on my SI joint at the moment. He has promised me that I won't loose bladder or leg control. It's always important to keep an eye out for CES symptoms (search at the top) bladder control/numbness can be an emergency situation.

    At the start I tried all the traction, decompression, being 're-aligned' & adjusted. I've been told very strongly NEVER to do any of that stuff again. With a damaged spine disastrous things can happen. I know people who have gone from the chiropractors straight to the ER for surgery!! I only allow REAL spine specialists to treat me now. All that caused me extra pain anyway but desperation leads us down some ill advised paths.

    I eventually found a great physical therapist who studied my MRI & noted things like 'Modic Changes' bone-on-bone, location of bone spurs etc & developed a very gentle exercise & stretching routine that keeps me strong without hurting me. I walk a lot, slow & steady, nothing that jars my spine.

    I take meds. ER & breakthrough narcotics. I deal with tolerance by changing meds rather than increasing doses & that works for me, keeping my doses reasonably low. For me narcotics work best with muscle relaxants. Neither work as well alone. I take Baclofen 3 times a day. I used to take Tizanidine. I don't get on well with nerve meds so I use a compounded prescription cream that's made of ketamine & lidocaine to numb, various muscle & nerve meds etc. I had a couple of dose adjustments of certain ingredients & I have to use it regularly so it builds in my system but I like it.

    I always ice after procedures. I start icing on the way home after! That helps with the pain flares. Mostly I like heat to relax things. Airomatherapy massage oils with a hot water bottle is nice. Heat before gentle stretches makes exercising easier for me.

    I've had success for muscle spasms with trigger point shots. The lidocaine with steroids helps but the Botox lasts longer.

    Very hot Epsom salt (magnesium) baths help me. I take a number of suppliments. Magnesium, quality vit D, B complex, Omega oils, etc. magnesium seems to make the biggest difference when I don't take it. I live (mostly) on an arthritis, antiinflamatory diet.

    It's all about finding the right blend of treatments for you. Nothing works on its own for me. It's a delicate balance of things which I continually tweak to get the best pain management I can. My spine is a lot worse now than it has been in the past but I've got better pain management. It's taken me a long time to develop my blend & finding great specialists willing to try different things has been REALLY important.

    It's very hard to handle at times. I've had my fair share of pity parties. This is my life. No amount of 'if onlys' & depression is going to change it. I've wasted far too many tears on this. All we can do is our best. Try to push pain into you peripheral vision, don't give it the focus it demands. Grab hold of every bit of joy you can find & milk it for all it's worth!!!

    I hope my ramblings have helped a bit ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Researches have found great results of traction based exercises (for DDD). But I personally don't like chiro's traction as it is too much and not quite safe. Have you tried gentle traction based hydrotheraphy exercises? Physio didn't help me and doing hydro twice a week didn't help me. Doing hydro 5-7 days per week helped me! Key is doing it consistently and continuously. And it saves money as I can do it my own. If you need more specific details feel free to PM me.
  • When my Mum was younger than I am now she had a 'slipped disc' as it was called. In England they did machine traction at the hospital 5 days a week. They realized that although it was questionablby helpful for some in caused some very serious damage for others. I was surprised it still existed! I agree, it's all very harsh. With serious damage I have to advise spineys to stay away from all that chiropractor stuff. Could it help a little? Maybe. Could it 'fix' you? No! Could you end-up in the ER getting ready for surgery as a result of their treatment? YES!

    Hydrotherapy is much gentler. I wish I had a pool. When I could I exercised in water everyday & it was great. Do you have your own pool? Funds are tight for me at the moment & I don't have anyone to help with my preschooler. I really can't do any 3x a week therapies I have to pay for ;-(
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • shcjsshcj Posts: 38
    edited 12/01/2014 - 2:12 PM
    I've got a monthly membership and I am paying $35/month. I've got a traction swim ring which goes under my shoulders and it helps me to float and gives a gentle traction. Basically that's all costs to do hydrotherapy, I guess. It saves me a lots of money as going to a physio is not necessary for me at the moment. I have been very dedicated to it as I want to escape from a back surgery. It has been helping very well so far. As I indicated before, doing it 2 time/wk didn't help much, but 5 /wk gave results from the first week. I've been spending so much time on forums to find a good exercise recipe for me and this is the great thing I have found. Just my experience.
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 12/02/2014 - 7:45 AM
    Great! I think it's worth trying everything (within reason!) & keeping what works. I've never found one thing, that 'magic bullet' to take my pain away. Developing the right blend of treatments, therapies & meds is the only thing that keeps my pain managed. I'm so pleased you've found a physical routine that works for you.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • shcjsshcj Posts: 38
    edited 12/21/2014 - 5:17 AM
    The key to help DDD is providing more fresh liquids/blood with required nutrients (Mg,Zn, Bs and etc) into the disc. Gentle traction is a mechanism to pump fresh liquids into the discs and it also helps to get rid of rubbish in the disc. I've seem several research papers those proving that. Having said that, manipulation based traction is not so safe.
    Removed link
    And also Hydro based exercises good for core muscle based exercises as it requires more effort (~9x compare to air) to move in the water. Walking backwards is one of the bests I've found.

    Yes basically, Hydro and Tens machine helped me mostly.
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