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Cortisone injection

eajosepheeajoseph Posts: 315
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Spinal Injections
I have been diag with DDD at L4/5 and L5/S1. Bone spur and compression of nerve canal at l4/5. Discs at l3/4 and l5/s1 are bulging. After the MRI, my primary sent me to a neurologist. He ordered PT 3X/ week for 4 weeks. On my second trip, I ended up having numbness in my toes and even more extreme leg pain. I was also sent to pain management for cortisone injections.

I had the first one on Monday. OMG! That hurt more than giving birth! (I've had two babies and that was a picnic) I couldn't stop crying; I screamed out in pain and even had an involuntary reflex where my hand slapped the table. This was the worst pain of my life!!!!! The dr apologized for hurting me so much. X( They said I might have increased pain for 24-48 hours since the injections were in the nerves at L4/5 on both sides. I'm beyond 48 hours now and am still popping vicodin like crazy and using ice. I can't sit for long or do much of anything. Vicodin makes me feel so impaired that I cannot function.

I'm suppose to do injection round #2 on Wednesday. I don't know if I can do it again. I feel so much worse. My poor family.......I can't take care of my kids, house, or be of any help to my husband. Plus I'm a college student. Is this type of reaction to cortisone normal?????

My neurologist said I'm too young for the surgery he would want to do. (Remove both degen discs and replace with artificial ones) I'm 40. I know I'm not old but am I serioulsy too young for this surgery if these injections don't work?????? According to the PM dr, if the cortisone doesn't help then surgery is all that's left. Especially since I am sensitive to most meds and PT made things worse.

Help? Advice? Anything? I hurt soooo much right now. TIA


  • answer that for you but I can give you my opinion. Please try every conservative measure that exists before opting for surgery. Surgery is no guarantee of pain relief and often makes the pain worse. My doc has told me that the ADR is not perfected yet so he would not even consider that surgery. I know that you just want to be fixed and for the pain to go away but please understand that surgery may not do that for you and once surgery is done, it can not be undone. Good luck to you and please keep us posted.
  • Are you alternating heat and ice at the injection site? Ice 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off has always helped me. Try and hang in there. Who knows? Maybe you will get some relief from the injections. This pain that you are feeling now is only temporary and will go away.
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  • Have you called the doctor who gave you the injections to say you are still having this pain? I don't know what others have experienced but I have had a number of injections and never had pain - just some numbness once that lasted a few hours.

    As for surgery - I would suggest exploring all conservative options first. If your current pain management doc can't help, you might want to try another one. Also, there are so many different approaches to PT - maybe a different therapist could help you.

    It is so frustrating and exhausting to be in pain - I hope you find relief soon.
  • I did call the doctor again today. The nurse remembered me and said that my initial reaction to the injection is something that is rarely seen. According to her, very very very few patients have as much pain during the injection as I did. She said it shows just how inflamed everything was to begin with. She said she wuold speak with the dr about prescribing a valium for me to take before the next one which is scheduled for Wednesday. I told her that I didn't know if I could actually psyche myself up enough to do this again.

    The dr called back. He also remembered me. (guess all of this makes me special or something :S ) He said that he thinks the meds will start working within the next day. :O I don't know that I believe him but I'm doing everything I can right now. Vicodin, Celebrex and ice. The dr is going to call me in the morning to see how things are going. We'll decide then if we should proceed with the 2nd injection. I was warned that there are no guarantees about how I might feel if we do it.

    My husband won't be allowed in the room during the injection either. He would be very helpfull to me but they won't allow that. Exam room is ok but not injection room.

    At the first injection I was left with the feeling that if the cortisone doesn't work that I don't really have any options. Now the dr is talking about if we don't do the 2nd one that we'll look at what else I can try.

    I don't want to do surgery. I'm terrified of what could happen. I'm also tired of pain. My heel went numb this morning (that's a first for me), my legs and hips hurt worse than before. Can I ask if anyone did cortisone, got no relief or worse, and what was next?
  • I got back relief from injections for quite awhile (it never helped my hip) - at first I would have little or no pain for months after an injection. Between the injections and Pilates with an instructor who specializes in back rehab, I could do pretty much whatever I wanted. As time went on the relief time became shorter and shorter - until the last one barely lasted 2 weeks. (I never took pain meds because I am so sensitive to most meds - so injections were wonderful for me.)

    Be sure to talk to your doc about your heel being numb - is it a result of the injection for some reason or progression of pressure on nerves?

    I do hope you get relief from the injections! But, if not, I hope your doc can offer some other options.
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  • So sorry you're having such a hard time with this. I believe your doctor is probably right when he said the reason it hurt so much for you is that the injection went right into the real source of your pain.

    I had 2 epidurals in my lower back, and neither one was particularily painful for me. But when I got them in my facet joints, I was so traumatized that I sat in my dark garage and cried for an hour straight afterwards. I haven't cried from pain since I was 5! And where before I might have been a little sore for a few day, with these shots I hurt for over a week. The doctor hugged me at my next appointment and told me that it hurt that bad because my facets were that bad. As painful as it was, it did give the doctor a lot of information on how to treat me in the future. These injections can be great diagnostic tools as well as pain relievers.

    Anyway, after 7 or 8 days the pain went away and I have been pain free for almost 2 months now. I really hope this will be the case for you - pain relief in the next few days. And if it works, your doctor will know exactly where your next injections should be instead of still trying to guess your sore spots.

    I'm assuming your doctor does not give any kind of IV sedation? If you get relief, give the Valium a try and maybe ask the doctor if she could wait a few extra minutes after she gives you the local shot and the actual epidural.

    Good luck!

  • I had my first injection last Thursday. I had a lot of pain and cried out too. I don't know why that Nurse you had said that other people don't feel pain during the injection. I was very uncomfortable. I took a pain pill an hour before and sedative before and I felt pain but tried to tell myself it works right away or in 3-5 days as it is an anti inflammatory and analgesic. I would def do it again if it meant I may have some relief maybe. As of yet I have no relief. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • summer2--no IV sedation. I had been told (staff and info packet) not to take any Aleve and Advil for 48 hours before the injection and no food or drink for at least 4 hours before. Today I find out that I could've taken the meds I had. Although eating and drinking would've been a bad idea. :& I'll ask to give the lidocaine a little longer before the next injection. Plus I will take the Celebrex, Vicodin and get a Valium IF I do it. Still pretty traumatized here.

    Charry--Hope you get some relief soon. I want to believe that this will work. I want it to.
  • For what it's worth, my first ESI didn't really help, either. But subsequent ESIs did help a tremendous amount. (They eventually wear off, though.) You may find that the next set of shots provides more relief for you.

    Sorry to hear the shot itself caused so much pain. That sounds horrible! My doctor always numbed the area and then the ESI wasn't painful at all.
  • I've had some relief from the sciatica and foot swelling and cramping of my calf. I even had some back pain relief and did a little dance but then the knife pain came back. I'm sure that's the annular tear that's causing the back pain. Anyway I hope you feel a little relief soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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