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Epidural Stories????

caitycccaityc Posts: 268
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey all! I am scheduled for an epidural on January 5th. I have heard a lot of stories, good and bad about them, and just wanted your feedback. I do realize everyone is different, but just wanted to get an idea what I'm in for. :S I am going to be put to sleep, thank goodness! I) But here are my questions:

How long was your back sore after the procedure, if at all? And how bad was the pain? Could you walk, move, etc?

Did the epidural work and for how long? Mine is for back pain, which I hear epi's don't always work. They are mostly for leg pain and inflammation pain. A lot of my pain is more "bone" related, if that makes sense. My L5 S1 disk is gone, so I literally feel the "bone on bone", which then radiates out to both hips.

All your feed back (as always :) ) is greatly appreciated!



  • I have had so many I can't remember but they worked for me for a while. I had really sore SI joints during this time and had injections for those too. My shots helped for a while and bought me time before the fusion/ADR. When the shots work, the pain goes away, usually right away. Although they say the shot takes 7-10 days to give full effect. The steroids need time to work but the numbing meds kick in right away. I was sedated once for the shots but never after the first one since I knew what to expect. The numbing shots feel like a bee sting in your back but that goes away in a few seconds. There really isn't much pain but your legs can be weak so bring a driver, you need one if you do get sedated. I stayed resting for a couple hours at home after the shots and walking is normal after the shot. Take it easy and let me know if want to talk.
  • Caity,

    I had a series of 3 ESIs. The first two were 4 injections, two on each side. The last one was a single injection to a specific location.

    My pain doctor used a local anesthetic, so all I really felt was the slightest pressure when he inserted the needles. Most of the time, I could not even feel the steroid solution being injected into me.

    However, for some reason the lower right location was sensitive. It was slightly painful in that location and pressure was much more noticeable.

    Each time after the procedure, I was able to immediately walk to my bed in the recovery area. 15-20 minutes later I was able to get dressed and walk out of the office.

    For the next several days, the area was a little sore, mostly in that lower right area. I did not need to take any pain medication for it.

    I got slight relief from the first one, but the last two did not work at all. Actually, within 2 days of the second series, my back felt as bad as it did before the first one.

    Besides relieving pain, ESIs are supposed decrease inflammation so that the disc(s) have a chance to heal on their own. In my case, the disc was severely dehydrated and partially collapsed - there was absolutely no way that the disc could heal on its own. I had a bulge impinging on a nerve root. If anything, the first ESI may have decreased inflammation around the nerve root enough to give me some temporary relief.

    In your case, since the disc is completely collapsed, there is no way it can heal on its own. I would guess your surgeon is having you get ESIs either as an attempt to temporarily relieve your pain or for insurance purposes - to show that you tried all conservative treatments before surgery.
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  • Hello Caity,

    ESI injections have worked great for me. I have one about every 4 months.

    For details may I suggest that you go to the Treatment forums. The last one listed is titled "Spinal Injections". Click on that forum. Then click on the topic titled "Had right SI joint injection today, please share your experiences w/ this injection". Then read my post (No. 5) titled "ESI Experiences". Make sure you also read my P.S.

    If you have any questions please let me know.

  • Mine were at L4-L5 and L5-S1.
    Only local anesthetic was used and I felt only slight pressure.
    When the medicine saturated the L5-S1 root, I felt a burning pain. This lasted a few minutes only.
    My left leg was very very numb and I needed some help getting from the table to the recovery area.
    They would not relese me until I could walk on my own and the leg was ok again.
    3 hours later, I finally got feeling back and was able to leave and drive home.
    I felt no difference until about 3-4 days later.
    Then the pain started going away.
    By day 7, there was no pain at all.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Caity,
    I have had 2 ESI's with two different doctors:
    I had one ESI with no pain med. and I had a very bad time, it was very painful for me. That PM doc said I was not a candidate for ESI's. He did the ESI with 4 injections 2 for numbing and 2 for the meds on each side. That did not relieve any pain.
    My ortho wanted me to try another ESI so I found a new doc, a neuroradiologist, who gave me sedation and used the approach, one injection to numb and one directly in between L4/L5, he said that way it would bathe all the nerves around that area. This doc said he felt this approach covered more area and the other ESI did more pinpointing a specific nerve. That is how I understood it. But I can say that with the sedation, I did not feel or remember anything after getting on the table. I also had relief from the pain for about a month. I am scheduled for another ESI on Jan. 14th.
    After the second ESI, I did have some numbness immediatley, needed a little help going home and getting in the house. Mainly just unsteady. They require someone to take you home if you get sedation anyway. I rested the day of the ESI but could return to work the next day. I took the next day off, but if I had to push myself I could have gone to work.
    Unfortunately all my pain is back now and I am anxiously waiting for the next ESI. Best wishes on Jan 5th. Let us know how you are doing with the ESI.

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  • Hello Stacy,

    You have PROVED my thoughts regarding ESIs - that is the doctor giving you the injection is a MOST important part of the "equation".

    I cringe when I read the horror stories from people regarding their experiences with ESI injections.

    For me, the doc first very carefully guides the needle to where it must go, and does so with the aid of a fluoroscope. In doing so he is injecting the lidocaine to deaden the pain of the injection. Next, he injects the corticosteroid (Kenalog). There is only a slight discomfort. I'm in the "injection room" for perhaps 10-15 minutes. Then for me like you I need some time to get some stability to my legs. That takes from 20-45 minutes. Just a matter of the effect of the lidocaine. A nice ride home, a few hours rest and then I'm back in our gardens.

  • ..as it was also my insurance carrier that demanded that all "coservative treatments" were tried b4 more surgery...but I sure did hope that they would have worked for me, but they didn't.

    The injections (I had 10) were in various places (SI joints, facets, between the discs, into the epi space, etc) as we tried everything...

    I had Versed for each one (you're aware but don't care, as they say) but never got sustained relief after the initial local anesthetic wore off in a few hours. The injected areas were a bit sore for a few days after, but ice packs helped a lot. I did have a few bruises from the last one, as he went directly into the L4/L5/S1 area, hoping to prevent the fusion...guess he really gave it a "gung-ho"!

    But as others say, yes, they DO work well for some people. I truly wish they had worked for me & I can say the same for you: may you find some lasting relief from them, or if it's temporary, may your pain be reduced.

    Let us know how it goes! Good luck!~

  • Hi Caity, I had 4 epidurals over about a year. The first 3 worked great for a few weeks then gradually wore off. And yes my back pain was totally gone after a few days as well as leg pain. The first 3 were given at L3-4 and L4-5, as my leg pain followed the L3-4 dermatome, even though the problem was all L4-5. The last time I got one it was at the end of the day, and I think he was in a hurry. He only put it at L4-5, even though I reminded him of the usual way that had worked. I got zero relief that time. Oh well, it just would have prolonged the inevitable. I had sedation the first time, then decided to go without the other 3 times. I only felt the lidocaine stick, and then some pressure. After the last failure, my unstable spine, and increased pain, I knew surgery was the next step. Keep jumping through those hoops, and maybe you'll find some relief in the process. Remember, it often takes a few days to kick in. Let us know how it goes. Cali-Sue
  • Hi Caity,

    I had several ESI and facet injections for my back pain. I didnt get any releif, but mine was probably due to the fact that I have so many levels of problems and alot of the pain is discogenic referred pain. There was just no way to hit it all. Within about an hour I was back to my normal pain levels, nothing more, nothing less.

    My injections were done in the office, under a flouroscope, no sedation, no IV, I was up and out the door driving home within about 10 minutes. I can say the facet injections were more painfull for the first 2 days.

    Give it a couple days as Cali-sue said, it doesnt take a few days or more I was told to feel the full effects. Good Luck.

  • So the consensus is slight discomfort, and hit and miss on whether they worked. Good to know!!! :) My biggest concern was the pain afterwards for the first few days, but that also doesn't seem too bad. Yaaaa!!! <:P <br />
    I'm so relieved I will be asleep! I had several epi's when I was pregnant and they were not fun, not bad, but not fun. But I was also dealing with contractions at the time, so I'm pretty sure that pain was worse than the epi. ;)

    My husband is taking me there, staying with me (I'll have him in the room with me if I can :D ), and taking me home, so there is no concern there.

    I will be finding out today what time it will be. I just hope it provideds some relief! If not, then we will move to the next step. :)

    Thank you all again for your responses!

    RichT, I went to the forum you recommended. Thanks!

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