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2 Years and Counting

I'm new here... In my twenties, have been living with chronic sciatic pain for over two years now, due to three prolapses in the lowest discs of my lumbar spine. I've been through the works at this point. It took me so long to get answers being sent back and forth by my GP, who kept just telling me I had sciatica like it was a condition unto itself. I had to get an MRI and bring it to her before she would take me seriously, six months later. That's how long this stuff takes in the Irish system. I've been through physical therapy, spinal injections, tried all the exercises and plans, done different pain management. The injections have made it worse, and now I am living in pain more crippling than when I started my treatment. The doctors are debating sending to surgery but want to put me through more physical therapy, despite the fact that I have already been doing physical therapy for a year and a half to no avail, and no one seems to be able to give me answers. Why the injections made it worse, why none of the treatments have given me any relief.I am losing my mind. Doing a masters degree currently and it is impossible to concentrate through the pain I am experiencing. And I know, given that this is taking so long, the field I am trying to break into with my masters will be closed off to me unless a miracle happens. It is hard to keep motivated when it appears that all your life plans are on ice, depending on whether you will ever get a body and a life back again. I can't even remember what it was like to be pain free anymore. Not capable of doing much more than walking. Like I said, losing my mind. I was just wondering, if anyone else here has had a similar experience of prolonged pain without relief, what their experience has been, and if anything eventually helped. I am terrified that this is my life now, and I will be stuck like this forever. 


  • Hi R-R30 

    I have the same problem. I have had this for over 20 years. I have tried everything. Here I am just had another injection and the pain is worse. I am now looking into a pain pump. I do not want to take medication, I have been fighting it from the start. There is nothing left for me to do. I hope there is something new that is coming for this condition. Let's keep in touch.  

    Sharon 71
  • please look into arachnoiditis. doctors won't diagnose because its only caused by medical error. theres no cure but injections do not help and make it worse. my fiancé has it. join support groups on Facebook for the best information- doctors hide everything about this disease. he's getting a spinal stimulator and most likely eventually a pain pump. i hope this helps.
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  • It's possible that the injections caused the Arachnoiditis.  So you could have that now on top of your previous sciatica/disc issue.  It's one of the reasons that I will not even try it once. 
  • I was back to see the doctor, and he didn't explain what was wrong, he didn't seem to know why or how it had gotten worse, I'm thinking you are right about the Arachnoiditis, particularly since the injection itself was so painful even after three doses of anesthetic, and they hit a nerve as they were doing it. Thank you for your suggestions. The doctor suggested another injection and I told him I'd never do it again.  
  • I have experienced the same thing. I'm in my early thirties and had clear MRI the first time. My gp told me oh its just sciatica no treatment for that. I need to just strengthen my core and I'd be fine. We'll over a year later, 5 back injections, numerous pan meds, I was diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction. I'm now having 8 nerves burnt next Friday and I can't wait! It's crazy how medical "professionals" make us feel as though we are crazy. I hope everyone struggling with pain and poor treatment find relief. Right now what's keeping me going is tramadol and neurontin. These two together have eased the terrible cramping I have experienced for over a year.
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  • Hi R-R30

    I have a couple of questions before I comment too much.  Firstly what does the MRI show? Secondly , when you got your injections were they epidural injections into your spinal fluid?  And if they were were they CT scan guided or did they just inject you without using a CT machine.  Lastly is it an option for you to seek a second opinion privately outside your health system?  I have experiences some things similar to you with a different outcome which let me enter a very physically demanding field after completing my masters. (PS what are you doing your masters in?)

  • Hi Phil, 

    The MRI shows a degeneration of my three lowest lumbar discs, two of which have prolapsed. The epidural was done under xray guidance with contrast, and the injection was into the nerve thingy above the disc I think. I'm thinking I'm going to have to get a second opinion, I finally got to see the consultant in question again and all he said was "there's absolutely no way the epidural made it worse". But it got worse, soooo much worse, immediately after I had the epidural done, and the epidural itself was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I have been referred to a surgeon now, but have been told they're unlikely to operate, which leaves me with all options exhausted really... Doing my masters in Humanitarian Law, the plan was to do field monitoring in conflict zones. I want to work in the middle east... Not looking likely right now. 

  • Hi Rachel,

    Definitely go ahead with the second opinion.  With two prolapsed lumbar disks you probably need to talk to a neurosurgeon or a spinal orthopaedic surgeon.  I don't know who told you that they are unlikely to operate.  What is most likely is that they will try a raft of conservative treatment before they consider operating.  As to the epidural making it worse mine definitely did,  But as I was most likely facing fusion already I was willing to try anything.  (I had a epidural back in 2002 which worked really well on a different disc).

    Don't give up on your dreams yet.  I had work done to my L4 L5 back in 2002 and went on to complete my Master of Outdoor Education and to work in outdoor education (quite physically demanding) for 15 years.  Now I'm facing a L5 S1 fusion but not giving up hope.

    Try to maintain a positive mindset.  It helps with pain, self esteem and healing.


  • That means a lot to hear, thank you. It has been really hard to keep positive when it just keeps going on and on, but that does give me hope. The consultant who botched the epidural told me that they would be unlikely to operate, but I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon lined up now, hopefully there will be an end in sight. Thanks! Wish you all the best.

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