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ESI for me!! So Upset.....

caitycccaityc Posts: 268
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone! I know you are all going to say get the ESI, all conservation treatments should be tried first. I understand that. But here's my story....

1 year ago I went to a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon. I had an 11 milimeter herniation. Neuro said he could do a diskectomy, but it wouldn't help my back pain. Went to the Ortho, who I will call Dr H. :) He agreed the diskectomy wouldn't help either, and that fusion would be my option. He wanted to go in thru the front, but because I am overweight, did the diskectomy to remove the herniation. Told me when I lost the weight to come back and he will do the fusion. He said there is no point to an ESI because it generally only fixes leg pain, not back pain. He said because I am so young, a good solid fusion would take place, and my life after would be fairly normal. So you see, this has been ingrained in my head for the past year.

So due to switch of insurance effective Dec. 1, I now had to start all over and see a new doc at a new medical group. I will call him Dr. M. So Dr. M says he can't believe I haven't tried an epidural yet, and that he can't believe my Dr. H would jump into a fusion so quickly. He said because I am young, fusion is the last resort. The total opposite of what Dr. H said.

So now I am scheduled for an epidural on January 5th. My problem is I feel like the inevitable is just being prolonged. My disk is completely gone. It's putting pressure on my nerves. So if the epi works, great, but am I having to get them my whole life?

I am just so frustrated. I knew this would happen. So I am going to appease him, get the epi, and see what happens. He is going to put me out so that's a good thing. I)

Thanks again to all of you. I don't know what I would do without this message board. :<



  • I hope it goes well for you. Epis help leg pain more than the back pain. That's great he's putting you out for the shot. I didn't ever get offered that and been to 2 Pain Management Drs. It wasn't a pleasant experience. It feels like pressure afterwards and a heaviness feeling. I had good relief of leg pain after the second Epi. I hope it works out for you when you do have surgery. 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
  • I have been getting them for the past 5 years to put off surgery & the injections helped both my leg & back pain. The trick is to get the right spot which is pretty much trial & errror.
    My P.M. doc would go in at the level coordinating with my nerve pain & also into the facet joints. That combination would get me up to 6 mo of functionality. It gradually got down to 3 weeks of releif & my P.M. doc said it was time to talk surgery.

    I get it that you are so over this & ready for surgery, but
    the Spinal guys will consider surgery more seriously, if you have had the injections w/o relief. That's what happened w/ my neck herniation and they scheduled a fusion right away (which I cancelled...another story)

    Anyways, I would reccomend the ESI's. I;m betting your new insurance would not approve a surgery w/o seeing all the conservative hoops jumped through. Its all about the money, you know. /:)

    Good Luck I hope the ESI helps :)))
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  • I had an esi about 10-15 years ago...it worked for my back pain (at that time I did not have leg pain). My back only started hurting again a couple of years ago, so I feel like I certainly got my money's worth from the esi. Remember, what works for one person might not work for another and vice versa. I would definitely get the procedure done first, then re-evaluate later. Please don't get the fusion surgery until the LAST resort...it is such a long, painful recovery!
  • He told me "if the brakes on your car run out, you're not going to run right out and buy a new car are you?". I just feel like it's band aiding the brakes. A fusion to me would be repairing the brakes. :D :))(
    I have had myself resolved to this for a year now, so it's hard to change directions and realize now I may not have the surgery. We will see if the epi works. :S Wish me luck!

  • Caity,

    I'm sorry to hear about this. Unfortunately, for many of us in today's society, our care seems to be controlled more by insurance companies than by doctors or even ourselves.

    It is possible that Dr. M is requiring ESI because it is a conservative treatment you have not tried. Once that fails, it will be easier to convince the insurance company to cover fusion surgery because there will be proof that you have tried all conservative treatments.

    In my case, I went from my PCP to a Physical Medicine Specialist to a Pain Specialist to the Surgeon, in that order. I had no problems with the surgeon because I had tried all the conservative treatments before seeing him.

    The interesting thing is that I did 3 ESI's, and the surgeon said due to my partially collapsed disc, the pain doctor should have known the ESI's would not work for me.
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  • I'm just trying to absorb this all. Like I said, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and it was taken away.
    And you hit my point exactly! I've heard epi's really only cure leg pain, not back pain! So like I said, I will appease him. He didn't mention insurance issues, but that is a good point as well.

  • Caity, I think they probably need to do this to prove to your insurance that surgery is necessary. If it works then that is great. If not, then you have more leverage with the insurance for approval. I had 4 esi's prior to fusion. The first 3 worked wonderful, and took away all my leg AND back pain, although temporarily. The 4th did nothing for me. One thing to realize, is although the fusion may fix the problem, it does put you at risk for adjacent level disease. So prolonging it may be saving your other discs and more surgery in the future. My NS says there is a 10-15% chance I will need adjacent level surgery in the next 3-5 years. After that add 3% risk per year. Not the best odds but hey, I can walk now without limping. I still have back pain with activity. I am 4 1/2 months post-op. I really did not expect fusion to take away all my back pain, as I have had it since age 17. I am 41 now. It has resolved my hip and leg issues, so for that I am thankful. Good-luck to you. Think of this added time as more time to get healthy for the surgery if it comes. Good-luck, I hope you feel better soon, >:D< Cali-Sue
  • Well lets hope you're not part of the percentage. :) As far as my other levels go, they are in good shape. But like you said, I realize they could be weakened as well. :S

    The insurance issue is true, and I never really thought about that. I will appease. :D

    Hopefully the epi will help my back and hip pain as well. :SS

  • After 2 previous back surgeries, a lamindectomy and a fusion, this new NS I went too suggested a ESI. My daughter had just gone through 2 that did not help her herniate disk but my...mine was wonderful. We proceeded to shop the remainder of the day and it was so odd to not have pain. It worked for two weeks, the I did some heavy lifting and the pain returned.

    I felt at blame for this and I knew I was having the spinal surgery, and with having been diagnosed with arachnoiditis at one, I am being conscious of how many times my spinal column is penitrated so elected not to have any more, but there were quite a few times my back pain was so bad I almost gave it.

    You can't know until you try it, it is so individualized...who it helps and who is doesn't. Go in with a positive attitude and tell yourself "this is going to work!". Going in with any other attitude is detrimental. Your mind is a powerful thing.
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