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The Breaking Point

Hello, my name is Selena. I’m 20, turning 21 in July this year. I’ve had chronic sciatica since about October of 2016. It started out mild and was probably a result of sleeping on a very broken futon couch- Which I could usually get past with a walk and a hot bath. The December of 2016, I made the dumb decision to ride a horse I didn’t know after the owner promised it was broke.

It was anything but. I was thrown and landed on my right hip, breaking my middle finger and not being able to feel the muscle tissue in my right hip until very recently, where I can finally feel most sensations on that side. However, the mild sciatica went from mild to chronic, where I found myself being taken to the ER on several occasions from pain. They did X-rays, and nothing was broken. An MRI was ordered, and a “slightly” bulging disc was found between my L4 and L5. 

Physical therapy was attempted several times but did nothing for the pain except make it impossible the next day to move without choking down unhealthy amounts of Alieve. And so, I stopped having my insurance pay for something I wasn’t using or benefitting from.

Fast forward to 2018, current- I have left a abusive relationship and lost 50 pounds. The pain is not what it used to be, but there are some days where I can’t stand or walk and no position is comfortable. My mother has had to give me oxy and muscle relaxers that could drop an elephant to stop the spasms and pain. I have come back to my home town and set up an emergency appointment with my PCP before I leave Arizona to go to college to work towards a PhD for DVM. 

I was going to plead for ESIs, because I heard good things about them- But I have also heard and worked in health care where ESIs ruined their life. 

The last ER trip before I decided to set up another appointment with my PCP left me with very weak muscle relaxers that did nothing unless I took three at once- And a steroid pack. I did notice that after taking the 6 pills from the pack, I went to sleep and woke up pain free. For two hours, I was pain free for the first time in two years. I wanted to hike a mountain and go running and never forget what that felt like again. 

The car ride to the store in a dropped suspension coupe Civic brought back the pain. Upon coming home, my steroid pack vanished. I have a feeling our dorm mate took it, though I have no idea why.

And so, back to the real question.

If I ask for another steroid pack, will the pain go away after finishing it? Permanently? Do you have any luck with injections? I would like to know what medications you’ve taken or are taking that have given you your life back.

I cannot take a slurry of psych medicine- I have black box symptoms from taking SSRIs and SSNRIs. But others that are not opioids that are up for suggestion for me to ask my doctor about are what I’m looking for.

Thank you.



  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • tjlazerttjlazer TacomaPosts: 44

    If inflamation is the cause the dose paks can help.  I had a few of them after my Microdiscetomy (surgical swelling) and it seemed to help a little.  But the most beneficial thing you can do is do everything you can to not aggrevate the disc that is pressing on the nerve.  Avoid sitting, bending, lifting heave things.  Lose weight (sounds like you did that!), eat healthy, use good body mechanics, keep hydrated and try to decompress the spine.  Inversion therapy, inversion tables, etc.  Go for walks the really do help too.  Good luck

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  • Explain to your doctor what happened with missing meds,  they aren't controlled so I don't see why not. Definitely won't take away pain permanently .

    Esi injections seem hit and miss, not sure what you mean they run people's lives . Worth a shot to try.

    I have had success with my l4-l5 disc doing McKenzie stretching , core work, and ibuprofen .

  • With psych meds out of question,, then lyrica and gabapentin are off the table though they would help nerve pain. 

  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,452
    edited 05/09/2018 - 6:37 PM

    You sound like you have accomplished much in your 20 years and I congratulate you on that!

    If you haven’t seen a neurosurgeon yet that’s something to pursue. And ask the neurosurgeon if he sees anything of concern on your MRI.

    I’ve never heard of ESI’s ruining someone’s life. Except in very rare circumstances either they work for an unpredictable number of weeks, months or years or don’t work at all. It’s a crap shoot more less. No reputable pain management doctor is going to offer you injections if he or she thinks you’re not a good candidate for them.

    It’s impossible to know if a steroid pack will permanently eliminate your pain. To comment on that would be pure speculation.

    Good luck going forward. Please keep us posted.

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  • tjlazerttjlazer TacomaPosts: 44
    edited 05/09/2018 - 7:10 PM

    Or when the ESI's, which are not FDA approved for the spine,  cause an infection where you lose your limbs, or clump your nerves together causing Aracnoiditis with severe 24/7 pain, or other rare side effects like death.  Had 2 and they did not help, all they did is line the Doctor's pockets. No thanks!  Do the research and make an informed decision before you get one.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,527
    Quite a story here.

    From reading your discussion it seems that the medical professionals you have seen are the Emergency Room Doctors and your Primary Care Physician. I think at this point, as L4-L5 indicated a spinal specialist may be in order. The fact that your MRI indicated a slight disc bulge at L4/L5, do you know if they told you about the nerve at that level being impinged by the disc?

    That is the primary cause of sciatica . Its about the only way to get true sciatica. Considering you had a big fall and landed on your hip, has anyone checked you for piriformis muscle problem That can present a sciatica like problem and can be very painful when you move.

    As far as the medrol pack (Methylprednisolone is a steroid ) helping. They are good for reducing inflammation. which is why you were feeling better after using that. Some ortho and spinal doctors hesitate using a lot of these. There are definite negative side affects in using steroids like that. But that is mostly on a long term basis. I know when I've had some spinal problems, I was given only 1 medrol pack, but when I had a respiorotary problem, I was given prednisone(steroid) that far exceeded the amount for spinal problems..

    Now the ESI. No, they are not FDA approved because of use of corticosteroids , not the actual procedure. ESI's can be very effective when administered correctly. Please read this to understand Epidural steroid injections for lower back and sciatica pain

    To answer your last question about IF you had another medrol pack would that permanently eliminate the problem? That is so difficult to answer. If by reducing the inflammation calms down the problem and you dont do anything to aggrevate that, then there is a good possibility your pain would be gone for good.

    However, you are talking about heading back to college, where there is going to be a lot of sitting, reading and stress. Sitting and Stress can be too major contributors to hip/lower back back, so your condition may flare up again.

    What you really need is a complete formal diagnosis as to what your problem is. Then once that is established the proper corrective actions can be put into place that should eliminate your problem for good, as long as you follow any restrictions, limitations and keep up with the approved exercises.

    Good luck, keep positive and looking at the brighter side... You are young and strong, so you are in a much better situation to battle this then if you were past your 40's

    Last thing I have to say, please do not take anyone else, including your mothers prescriptions. Not only is it unsafe, its illegal and could get your mother into trouble.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Or when the ESI's, which are not FDA approved for the spine,  cause an infection where you lose your limbs, or clump your nerves together causing Aracnoiditis with severe 24/7 pain, or other rare side effects like death.
    Every time we get on the road to drive somewhere we risk bodily injury or death. Same thing every time we set foot on an airplane. Nothing in life is guaranteed. 
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