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Newb, very recent L3-L4 problem

Hi, I'm glad I found this forum.  I have had lower back aches for a number years, I don't remember how long.  But it has always been a nuisance, sometimes more than others.  Six months ago I had minimal pain travel down my right thigh so my PC ordered an x-ray.  That cam back with mild multilevel disk height loss and endplate sclerosis, most prominently at L4-L5.  Mild multilevel bilateral facet arthropathy, most prominent at L4-S1. Atherosclerotic calcifications. No soft tissue swelling.  Impression: Mild multi-level sponylosis, most prominent in lower spine.

My PC, boiled this down to mild DDD, with arthritis in the lumbar region and gave me a list of exercises which I have been doing, but not on a daily basis.

One week ago, just after having completed my annual health check and gotten a flu shot, I began to have shooting pains down my left thigh. They hurt. Bad. That night I awoke from more intense pain and spent the rest of the night writhing somewhat on my couch.  Next day it was worse.  I was unable to find any position standing, sitting or laying that would relieve the pain.  I called my PC and he ordered oral prednesone and gabapentin.  No sleep that night.  The following day the pain spread to my entire thigh, and the area surrounding and including my knee.  At this point I couldn't stand up straight to walk, and the pain of walking would overcome me withing 20-30 feet of starting.  I needed a cane to move about. I was however able to find comfort in a particular sitting position. Joy.  I was pretty much immobilized. 

PC ordered an MRI without contrast this past Friday, 3 days ago.  Today he called and said my entire lumbar area has mild arthritis and there is a disk bulge at L3-L4, putting pressure on a nerve root on the left side.  He said it didn't require surgery and suggested I get an epidural steroid injection ASAP.  I asked him for a copy of the report which is on its way.  I also asked him about the dangers of an epidural.  He cited a couple rare things, and said people generally get relief from this.  I asked if PT was an option first and he said yes.  I opted for that and start tomorrow.

This is new and a little overwhelming to me but I tend to dig in to research when stuff like this happens in life.  As happened to many of you at first I have a job, a daily life with responsibilities and all of that is up in the air now.  On the one hand if PT is slow but shows progress I may need to go on disability from work.  I really don't want to do that, so the epidural with possibly quick results is appealing.  But nothing of course is a guarantee. My natural tendency is to be conservative and work through options.  Whatever lies ahead of me I need to avoid opiates due to getting in over my head with them 15 year ago after a car crash.

Research is a blessing and curse as you all know.  I know you aren't doctors, but I would like to hear experiences and what worked or didn't work for you.  I copied the new member checklist below and completed what I felt is appropriate for my situation.


When did this first start

  • At what age? 58
  • Was it a result of an accident or trauma NA
  • Are there others in your family with similar medical
    conditions? NO
  • What doctors have you seen (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon,
    Spine Specialist, etc)PC, don't know specialties of those who read x-ray and MRI
  • What kind of treatments have you had? Conservative or
    Aggressive ?
    • Physical Therapy Starting tomorrow
    • Spinal Injections Not yet
    • Ultrasound/Tens unit I have a Tens and have been using it for months
    • Acupuncture Not yet
    • Massage Therapy No

What kind of diagnostic tests have
you had and what were the results

  • MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc

What medications are you currently
using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)

  • Name of Medication Listed in narrative, addition of meloxicam after prednesone is completed.

Has surgery been discussed as an
option? If so, what kind) NO

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Comments

  • What works for someone else might not work for you.

    Therefore, while epidurals help control my pain, they might not help you.  But you can google these discussions using the above search button.  Keep us posted on how the PT goes.

  • An epidural steroid injection actually made my pain worse.


    I did PT for 4 months w no pain relief along w gabapentin and aleve on a daily basis. However, some of my friends have had relief from injections.

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  • Had very good success with injections for many years, provided amazing pain relief, after about 4 years they stopped working but the way I figure it I had 4 relatively good years

  • I had a lot of relief from epidural steroid injections, as well as lumbar facet injections for many years. I would recommend talking to your doctor about who will perform the injections. My pain management doctor does mine, along with prescribing my pain meds. 

    Always do your research, as what works best for me, may not help for you. As a friend once told me, your mileage may vary (YMMV).

    Hoping you get some pain relief soon.

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