"New & increased pain after epidural shows it's working" - receptionist statement

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Anonymous (not verified)
Title: Member
"New & increased pain after epidural shows it's working" - receptionist statement

I had a fourth lumbar epidural injection at the beginning of this month. The day after, I started having "new" pain that never occurred before - I wound up screaming when I was getting out of a chair after dinner - felt like my whole back went out. In the week that followed I had a repeat episode where slight movement sent me screaming and single episode of sciatica pain shooting down my left leg and complete numbness in my left foot with tingling in the toes - before the epidural I had numbness in my right foot only.

I called my pain doctor who did the epidural after each incident, leaving messages, and the receptionist called back telling me "the switch in location of the pain and having pain is a sign the epidural is working and getting to the spinal cord".

Does this make sense at all? When I had physical therapy at the time of my first three epidurals (done by a different doctor) my physical therapist said I should notice a decrease in back pain afterward (none of those epidurals worked).

I was told to call for a two week follow-up appointment and when I called to schedule it, I was told the doctor was "booked solid for the next month".

Now I am having weakness in my right leg and I can not flex my right foot toes as much as my left toes. My right big toe is now numb all the time, with numbness in my right foot after walking short distances - like from the parking lot into a store. I am still having increased pain at what feels like the "injection site" after three weeks. I left a message for my pain doctor about this and am waiting to hear back.

Has anyone heard that pain and change in location of pain after an epidural is a "sign that it's working"??

Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 12/30/2008 - 12:07am
Hello ~

It is not very unusual to have a different pain sensation after having an ESI. Despite having the advantage of using a fluoroscope to help guide the placement of the needle, I think it is highly unlikely that the doctor gets the needle in the exact same location each time. I don't really think this is a symptom of anything...sometimes people react one way one time, and another way at another time.

Have you had the new pain now for almost three weeks? Is it still in the opposite leg?

It is always possible that the doctor nicked a nerve or something else happened...but I doubt you will be able to find that out that information. It is odd that they don't return your calls.

Sometimes PM doctors get really stacked up...so I wouldn't read too much into being told it would be a month for another appointment.

Are you currently seeing a fellowship-trained spinal specialist? It sounds like a good time to make an appointment and find out what's going on. From your description, it sounds like you have a spinal nerve root that is being compressed, causing the referred symptoms you feel in your legs and feet. If you should develop any bladder or bowel problems, call your doctor immediately, or go to the emergency room.

Some doctors do not want their patients having more than three injections in a year's time...some say six months. Be sure you are not having too many over a short period of time.

Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 08/15/2009 - 8:10am
Not good

I've had the proceedure and hurt for a few days, but never new pain and fir that long.
I would call back and tell the NURSE whats going on. The receptionist is wrong and has no business trying to make it alright. Demand that the dr wanted you back fir that follow up so they need to squeeze you in. Sounds kinda flooky to me. Good luck and call and ask for nurse. It really sounds like somethings not right.
Keep us posted!

mid-way_tilt (not verified)
Title: Member
Thanks for your replies.

Thanks for your replies.

There is no "nurse" to call at the Pain Management Dr's office - there are a couple of receptionists, one doctor. When I had so much pain that I was screaming the day after the procedure, I called the dr's office and gave the receptionist a message. By the time I got a call back - the next day - the "message" got completely distorted. The pain in my back got transformed into "pain down my leg". Whatever the receptionist tells me in response, I'm taking as a message from the doctor. I got a medrol dose pack Rx to take that helped with the flare up right after the procedure.

Since then, I've been faxing written documentation of my complaints so nothing can get "changed". Still haven't heard back since I faxed the dr's office yesterday. Last night I figured out my right leg is definitely weaker than my left leg by standing on one foot - big difference with the right leg and kinda freaked me out - this is all new since the last injection.

Another doctor, a regular orthopedist did my first three injections and the last one he did was over six months ago from this last (fourth) one.

When I called my spinal surgeon's office last week, they told me the pain management doctor was my primary doctor for all complaints until I was released from his care.

I wasn't going to have a "follow-up" for over a month until I called back last week and found out there was a cancellation - I took that slot and moved myself up.

I still can't get over the nursing care at the hospital where I had the fourth epidural done - the nurse put some antiseptic on my hand where she was going to start the IV and started blowing on it to dry it! I looked at her in disbelief and said "you're blowing on it?"; she stopped.

meydey321's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/26/2008 - 6:22pm

I'm sorry you're having a tough time after your ESI. Every time I had one I actually got worse and it took a couple weeks to get back to my baseline pain. All it did for me is exaggerate the pain and muscle spasms I already had going on. I agree that you should be able to contact your clinic if you are having trouble, esp after an invasive procedure. Well, I hope this mess gets straightened out because it's horrible to be in this situation. Take care

Last seen: 4 years 6 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 08/14/2009 - 10:25pm
Epidural injections dont work

I know hat you are going through. I went for my third today and after a long converstation with Doctor and assistant, and exmam wher they found no reflex from my nerves, icident weakness in the entire leg and he fact I broke down crying from pain and emotinal break down we decided to hold off the third shot. I have received no relief from my second shot, I have spiraled down into worse pain. After the second shot my back gave out several times total fell over and unable tostand for several minutes along with headache .Numbness, tingling , vice grip compression on entire leg, pain from lower back reightside down to my toes. I also cannot bend my toes as well as the other foot. Started stubling , and fell down stairs due to spasms in foot. They put be on nerotin , also predisone, vallum, percocet.Due to see nuerolgist in a few weeks. Todays Dr. at pain clinic wanted to inject into the nerve that gives the most pain. I could not tell her one place hurt more then the other. She told me that she was affraid of that because I have several nerves affected from my stenosis, artheritas.
buldging discs and flattening of the facets joint also with other things. Long story but short I feel the shots, may relive for a whle but pain comes back in a fury. Seems to worsen as days go by.
Hope you have better luck

raj1926 (not verified)
Title: Member
midway tilt

are you better now? can you share your experience?

bob1212 (not verified)
Title: Member
Pain Much Worse After Epidural Steroid Injection

Hi Everyone:

These posts are so helpful as they give me hope that this pain will clear up.

My sob story: Had a muscle pull in my neck (sadly, didn't realize that's all it was) and mistakenly went to a chiropractor who cracked my upper back and neck. My whole world was rocked. My entire back went into spasm, neck was in serious pain, and headache began all day every day.

After six weeks of physical therapy, the area around C6-T2 was still very sore and headaches were constant. MRI's showed three herniated discs. Neuro wanted facet injections, but PM mistakenly gave injections into discs (which again were only sore and not "painful" at the time). Not only did this not help headaches, but I've been in agony after each of two ESI's.

After first ESI in left C7/T1 my whole upper back "lit" up. After 2 1/2 weeks of constant icing, it finally settled down, but I foolishly allowed them to try a second which immediately set off the area anew. It's now been 2 1/2 weeks and I'm in agony. Constant throbbing/burning/piercing pain in that space.

I can only hope that it's simply bad inflammation and nerve irritation and that it will slowly get better. Of course, I'm paranoid there's nerve damage, internal bleeding, disc damage, etc.

What does doc say? "It couldn't be the shot, probably just original problems." I told him original problem was discomfort, now I'm in pain! His response: "What harm could a little needle do?"

I'll check back in next week with status.

I've heard some say nerve inflammation can last a good month, sometimes even six months, and unfortunately, if real damage, chronic.


Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 01/15/2013 - 9:59am
I was told the same

I am on day 7 post ESI (my first ever). I too am having more pain in the L5/S1 area then I did prior to the injection. I cannot stand for longer then 15 minutes without excruciating pain coursing down my left backside and leg. I remember walking into the pain office without a limp, but I certainly have one now. I was told the same thing...."We got it. The injection was a success. It is normal for pain up to 2 weeks or so after the injection. That means its working." Well....maybe for you....not for me. I won't be back.
I am praying that the new increased pain calms down. I have bad sore pain in the injection site as well which I never had prior in that area. Every time I massage the injection site area I can feel it squeeze my nerve root and it sends a shockwave down my left leg. Obviously my body is not liking the intrusion. They want me back in 3 weeks...HA! No way!

I purchased Dr. John Sartos book Mind Over Back Pain.......that's my mission now.

Good luck with your post pain relief. Hopefully it subsides and the crazy symptoms you have in your legs will stop.