Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI): A Patient's Perspective

If you are a patient experiencing back pain, and have tried numerous treatment methods, only to find that they help just a little, or not as much as you would like, then maybe your next step is an epidural steroid injection (ESI).

I've been dealing with a herniated disc for the last four years or so, and have tried everything from physical therapy, chiropractic, pain medicine, acupuncture, rest, ice, heat, ointments and many other things. So after visiting a back specialist, who thankfully told me I was not quite a candidate for back surgery yet, he suggested the minimally invasive epidural steroid injection. If this has been recommended to you, and you have done an Internet search on the topic, you likely will be shown hundreds or even thousands of links to websites from surgery or radiology centers that perform several of these procedures daily. But a patient's perspective isn't as accessible, so here I am to tell you about my experience.

First of all, I hate needles, though not to the point where I get sick before any type of injection or blood work. However, this was different. We're talking about a long needle that goes directly into your spine and then serves as a vehicle for something usually akin to cortisone, which then shrinks inflammation surrounding the disc or area in question.

I was told by a friend who works at this particular facility that he sees 20-30 of these procedures a day (yikes!), and that it's usually pretty painless as a whole. Still, I know how much pain I'm in and I was scared of someone sticking a long needle directly in there.

So, after arriving and filling out mountains of paperwork about medical history (if you take blood thinners of any kind, you have to stop taking them for a few days prior to your injection), they took me in the back and got my vital signs. My blood pressure is usually normal, but it was a bit high due to my anxiety.

Then a doctor came in and explained the procedure, also answering every dumb question I had, such as "Are you SURE I won't feel the big needle?" He assured me that I wouldn't and that if I did, that I could let him know and they would give me more numbing solution, a.k.a. lidocaine.

So I went in, and I'm not sure if this is typical of every center that performs these, but I didn't even have to wear some uncomfortable hospital gown or anything. Simply loosen your pants, and jump on the table. That was encouraging.

Then they prep you by washing your skin a bit, and the doctor comes in. Now, I should mention that this is done on an X-ray table, so that the doctor can see where he is going with the needle. Unfortunately, my doctor came in and informed me that he had just gotten off the phone with my back specialist, who clarified that he wanted an ESI that gets closer to the S1 nerve, because that's what was causing the bulk of my pain. Yikes, I said, and I really said that. I had acupuncture a few years ago and I distinctly remember almost jumping off the table from some of those needles touching on nerves. Still, this was supposed to be different.

They numbed me with the lidocaine, which felt like a little bee sting, and quite honestly didn't hurt for more than 2 seconds. After I started to feel numb, the doctor put the big needle in, telling me what he was doing the whole time. I'm not sure if that's good or not, but I was still fearing that jolt I might feel from hitting the nerve. I did feel it a bit, but it didn't hurt all that much...still, he didn't want me feeling anything and gave me more lidocaine. Then, finally I did feel a very slight electric type shock, but I mean slight. He was there, and poured the cortisone in...which made me feel pressure in my lower back and down my left leg, pretty much where most of my pain is.

Then, and it happened so quickly, the needle was out. I had visions of having trouble walking, but I didn't at all. They took me into another room and got my blood pressure again, which was still sky high, and I knew it would be. But I was relieved that this was over.

Then what? Well, they recommend that you have a driver to take you home in case you have lingering numbness in your leg(s). Then you should rest for the remainder of the day, and resume normal activities the day after that. You will be sore, as if you had a tetanus shot, for a few days, and then by the third or fourth day the cortisone should start to fully affect the area. I have to say that in my case, it took more like five or six days to feel improvement, and even then we're talking maybe 15%.

I've read, and been told, that it sometimes takes 2-3 injections to get the most benefit, so I'm going to probably try it again in a few weeks and see how that works. At least this time, I won't be as scared or anxious as I was the first time, because that unknown factor won't be there.

For those of you who have been recommended this procedure and are dreading it, I can tell you that there is really nothing to be afraid of. The whole thing is almost completely painless, and the worst part might be the soreness you'll feel afterward. Plus, the actual procedure takes about 10 minutes.

I'll report back more after my second injection, and meanwhile I hope this hub helps many of you and/or alleviates your fears!

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Comments 309 comments

Jason Menayan profile image

Jason Menayan 8 years ago from San Francisco

Great advice. I've been battling a L5-S1 herniation myself over the past 3-4 months and I've had the EPI done twice. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me, but my experience in terms of the procedure was the same as yours. You feel an "electric shock" for a split-second, but no pain after that.

I was also given a tranquilizer intravenously, which made me feel loopy during it and for about 15 minutes afterwards.

Definitely something that should be tried for all but the most needle-shy, since it provides relief for many.

fishskinfreak2008 profile image

fishskinfreak2008 8 years ago from Fremont CA

Very interesting

Andrea 8 years ago

I just came across this post. I will have the injection done in 3 hours from now and I am so glad I found this article. This just put me at ease a bit. Most of the stuff I read from others was bad things about it. Especially after the injections. So thank you very much for posting some positive words about it.

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Andrea...you just made my day with your comment....that's exactly why I posted this article. I'm actually having a second one done in two weeks and I'm hoping it will really do the trick. Most of all, I'm not scared this time. Best of luck to you and let me know how it goes!

Mark Roberts 8 years ago

How did the second one go? Any benefit? I had an L5 minimally invasive discectomy a few weeks ago and don't see any benefit yet. ESI is my next step. Should have been my first step.

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Mark....the second one didn't do much, I'm sad to say. Part of the reason is I had a road trip planned the day after, and was in the car for 20 hours over the next three days. That was dumb on my part. But I'm having a third soon. I hear sometimes the third one is the charm anyway. That's a bummer about your discectomy not working...I was actually thinking about that as my next step, and I know someone who that helped a lot. I guess everyone responds differently. But I would definitley get the injection and see how that works...but plan on getting two or three.

Mark Roberts 8 years ago

My doctor and surgeon are telling me the discectomy can still work. I just need to give it time. The surgery was endoscopic and it was easy. I did not feal anything. I have had this problem for 6 years so they say it takes time for the nerves to recovery. My doctor put me on Lyrica. I have been on it for 3 days and it has helped a lot to relieve the sciatic nerve pain including in my foot and leg. Look up Lyrica. If the surgery did work I would only need to be on Lyrica for a few months. Good luck.

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

well keep me posted for sure. I think I have the same problem as you...a bulging disc pressing on a nerve, and it's awful when I'm sitting for any length of time or if I do anything strenuous. I'll check out Lyrica..i'm on painkillers and anti-inflammatories and those do a decent job for now but taking them long-term kind of scares me.

OnTheJob 8 years ago

Hello everyone,

Just thought I would share my story with you.

I injured my back at work and didn't know it at the time. About six months after that I could barely stand, walk and lay down in a comfortable position. I come to find out that I had three herniated discs in my lumbar. L3, L4, L5 S2. I also have a 40% spinal canal closure, fractured facet joints on L2, L3, and L4 as result from my injury and finally nerve damage that has caused about 30% loss of mobility in my right leg.

I was referred to a specialist who advised against surgery due to my age being young that is. The first steps are injections, physical therapy and finally pain counseling to coupe with chronic pain.

My injections are scheduled two weeks apart. I first had four injections done on the right side in-between the facet joints. Two weeks later I had four more injections done on the left side and one on L2 S1 as I complained about new pain going done my left leg. My second starts two weeks after my last injections which will go directly into the nerves. In all five on my right side then four on my left side.

As mentioned above in previous posts you don’t feel much besides a slight shock of pain that can run down your leg or a pinching feeling.

So far I have seen a slight improvement but my pain scale on both sides of my back and down both legs is a little less than it was. I have found some other concerns that I have noticed. After being in the same position for a few minutes I get a larger amount of discomfort and once I stand up it hurts for a few minutes. This even happens when I lay down for bed. All of this is due to the degree of my injury which yours will most likely vary from mine.

Some of the degrees of my injury could have been avoided if I had gone to my doctor earlier but I only thought I just had a sore back and it was getting worse. As you can see that was not the case so get checked out if you did something no matter how small it is.

If you hate needles just tell your doctor to cover the machine up or have it hidden behind a screen before you get into the room. The procedures are fast but expect to rest for that day as you will be sore.

Mark Roberts 8 years ago

Lyrica helped me for a few months but I got off of it due to a rash. The rash may have not been caused by Lyrica. Still unclear. I weaned off Lyrica over 12 days but the withdrawal symtoms were horrible (anxiety, night sweats, weight loss, insomnia...). The pain came back so I did have my first epidural steroid injection 7 days ago. I seemed to get even worse but the dr said I need to give it a few more days. We will see. I am sure they will want me to have another one. Seems like an endless cycle. I hope something begins to work soon. May even consider going back on the Lyrica since the pain was a 5 vs 8 to see if the rash comes back. I would take even more time getting off to try and avoid some of the withdrawals if I try that again.

amelia10 8 years ago

Eager to hear if the further injections helped or if you got back on Lyrica. I have my first injection scheduled for about a month from now and am extremely skeptical it will provide relief, especially since I had to get a tetanus shot about a month ago and it took almost a month for the swelling to go down!

If you get a chance, do provide an update.

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

Mark...I think Amelia is asking you for an update :)

As for me, I have had three injections.....the pain goes away temporarily and then it creeps right back. I'm going to see a surgeon next....I have a desk job and it hurts a lot to sit, so I'm going to need to do something fairly soon.

mk4955 8 years ago

I agree with the post of the 3rd one is the charm.

My spine specialist has recommended an ALIF - unilateral using

the BMP (bone material) and pedicle screws. Had injection 3-2007,

8-2007 and 7 -2008. The 3rd one gave me relief for about 10 weeks

which was a remarkable relief, The first two lasted about 5-6 weeks,

I am having my 4th one tomorrow (11-26-08),

This is my last injection, Ny next move will be the surgery, All I can do is be

positive. But I am scared to death of the surgery. I just don't want to wind

up with a pain specialist prescribing pain medicine for me for the rest of my life.

I am 53 year old female.

Sally 8 years ago

I had my first injections on my L4-5 and S1 I have to admit the numbing meds did not hurt and the doctor said that would be the worst but when he went in with the steroid I definetly felt pain enough where my bloodpressure dropped and I began to feel faint . I felt both injection sights and the contrast dye used after. I felt better for about 30-60 minutes and then I began feeling all my symptoms plus new leg pain I had never experianced any of these charle horse leg pains before. Most of it was in my sciatica it has been three days and I am still in great pain with my leg and now I am noticing it slightly in my other sciatic and leg. I don't knw if this is normal but I was feeling much better before I went and did this. Hopefully this will get better. I justdont understand all this new pain?

Rainy 8 years ago

I had my first epidural performed on 12-19-2008. I was told that other than a slight pinching with the injection of the lidocaine, it would otherwise be painless. Wrong! I am not sure why I experienced as much discomfort as I did, as the doctor really did not have an explanation, but it was very painful. He went in between C6-C7 and I felt everything. Pain up and down my spine. Three days later the injection site is still sore. I hope it improves as I am scheduled for number two in January. I am normally not a complainer of pain as I am a lupus patient and experience pain often, but this was not a good thing! LOL

Adam McCarthy 8 years ago

Hello everyone, my name is Adam I live in Sydney Australia. Before I begin, let me give a history of my sciatica. I hurt my back in a minor incident way back in 1988 whilst in recruit school in the Australian Navy. I bulge a disc during a fall. At the time, I never though a person could experience such pain as I was going through, with mind numbing pain in my legs and lower back. I used to cry myself to sleep, but please people, it DOES go away DO NOT think that your life will be in pain forever, it just takes quite some tiem to heal that's all, try to be positive and for goodness sake don't lay in bed all day waiting, get out and walk because this makes a hell of a difference.

So about probably 8 weeks later, I was essentially pain free with some minor excursions of pain if I did anything stupid like lift something heavy. This pain was probably mostly muscular and settled over a day or two.

I ended up on a ship at sea for 2 years solid with no symptoms whatsoever. I was approximatly 19 years old. Very tall slim boy 6'6" 80KGs. I was then posted to a shore establishment where again I had few problems with my back, then to another shore establishment in Darwin where I did have some probably which were quickly resolved. From there to a position where I had to sit for 8 hours a day peforming my duties which I am unable to discuss other than to say I was seated all day. Sitting was never really a problem for me, and many people do suffer when sitting and laying down, I had all my problems while standing. I became very very bored with this type of work and ask to be transferred back to a sea going vessel. This was declined and so I joined the Submarine Arm as they were desperate for sailors and I knew this would get me out of the current posting which was granted no problem in 1993, I was 22 years old.

My problems started right here, and this could have been the biggest mistake of my life. The cramped environment and hard working conditions for someone as tall as me was the straw that literally broke the camels back. Mostly it was due to carrying heavy objects bent over (fire fighting equipment and stores..food) into their stowage place onboad the boats. After 2 years I started to feel pain in my legs. I had forgotten what it felt like to have sciatica. They Navy sent me to specialists who did X-RAYs, CT Scans, MRIs etc. Let me tell you the Navy medical system is second to none. There is not a private practice on earth who cares more for their people than the Australian Navy does! Fullstop!

So there was a significant disc bulge at L4/5 impinging the nerve root canal. The word used 'OBLITERATION'. I was posted ashore to the main Naval Base in Western Australia and began with one of WA's leading nuerosurgeons. I am not sure of legal ramifications so I will not post his name on this site, other than to say he was in my opinion a VERY GOOD doctor. X-Rays were unable to show the degree of damage to the nerves and I could hardly stand for more than a few seconds so an MRI was performed. It is now 1995 having been ashore for about 8 months. The MRI showed a severe disc bulge which coincided with the pain I was in. I had a Discectomy performed in November of 1995 to remove the protruding disc. It was by all means a success within 12 months of the surgery, however there were problems pre surgery which caused me severe trauma during a spinal tap. I think it is important to note that things sometimes go wrong and that it should be known. I have had 2 MRIs now, and these days the procedure rarely presents with any complications, however my first ripped my world apart. Ill keep it very simple, the procedure involves injecting a magnetic resonance fluid into the spinal canal to enhance the imagery for the specialists to see pre surgery. Whilst the procedure went well with little to know discomfort at all except for the initial pin prick local anaesthetic, the hole that was made by the insertion of the MRI needle, did not heal and as such the fluid from my spinal canal was leaking out into my body cavity. Now people, there are things called Migranes, some people suffer from headaches etc, I DO NOT. I have never had a headache in my life, I don't drink much so a hangover headache was never really something I had felt either. This fluid leaking out cause me a headache that nothing short of hell. I was on the ground flat for 10days whilst the Navy tried to find a way to resolve it. If I raise my head so much as 3 inches from the floor it was agony, whilst flat it was fine. A blood patch was peformed meaning they took blood from my hand and injected it into my spinal cord, within about 3 hours I was fine. Apparently the spinal cord replaces its fluid every 45mins throughout our lives so it was quite fast to resolve.

As previously mentioned the op was a complete success. I was almost pain free for years and went back to sea on submarines. I was promoted to a higher rank and as such was able to delegate to my sub ordinates rather than have to endure a lot of manual labor myself. I on the otherhand was very careful with my peers and ensured they did not do things as I had.

People, when discs are damaged they become degenerative, ie: they become more fragile with age so to speak. I left the Navy in 1998 for fear of another operation and worked for the Navy for almost 5 years as a contractor. I was pain free by now but not having to go to sea and now in job which required little lifting I did not really cause myself and back problems other than normal muscular aches and pains if I went a bit overboard with a carton of beer or something like that. I was riding my bike to and from work almost 42km per day, I went to the gym on occasion and kicked a soccerball with my kids. I was okay.

I left my contractor job and moved to Sydney from Perth in 2004. I thoroughly enjoyed going out dancing at night with my girlfriend in clubs, and in late 2004, I woke up one morning unable to get out of bed. There was no incident as such and I doubt that dancing could have caused another disc bulge so a friend of mine who worked at St. Vincents Private Hospital booked me for an appointment with one of Sydney's leading nurosurgen's. I would soon find out that he was absolutely brilliant in his feild of work. I would never trust my back to anyone else now and although I wont mention his name, if you go to Level 7 of St. Vincents Clinic I am sure you will find him. His last name starts with P and has 4 letters in it. That should suffice.

He performed a lumbar laminectomy on my at L4/5 and when I awoke from surgery I hardly needed Panadol for pain relief. He performed surgery on my spine and unlike my previous doctor the scar on my back was 1cm long as oppose to about 8cm. Within a month I felt like I was 18 again. I had no pain at all period! That was in 2004. It is now January 2009, I am in pain again, I having been pain free for 3 years, probably picked something up a long time ago and weakened my spine. I went back to him and he did a Steroid Injection which has relieved a lot of the pain in my right leg, however my left lower back is a bit sore and is restricting my movement making it hard for me to work and have intercourse which I know from past experience can trouble an otherwise great relationship very quickly indeed. The steroid injections are great at St. Vincents, I have had 3 now and they have gone without a hitch. I am at the point where I will request a second lamenectomy when Dr. P returns shortly to his offices. I am now 3

vels62 profile image

vels62 8 years ago

HI my name is Velma and I also have problems with hernited disc at T 11-12,L4-5 and L5-S1 I opted for doing nothing invasive and in stead used the DRX9000 for Spinal decompression 20 treatments and oh what a relief. I can now sleep at night and drive for more than and hour before having to stop and walk around to get feeling in my legs. For me it was the best decision I ever made. The treatment takes about 25 minutes 2-3 times a week. Mine were at my chiropractors office. I don't know if any of the orthopedic or neuro docs have this available.

Mike  8 years ago


Where are you at with regard to your pain and treatment - did your thrid ESI work like a charm? Have you decided on surgery yet? I am headed for my first ESI on 5 Feb after herniating L5 S1 while lifting weights - doctors told me to continue exercising which I did and certain I did more damage. I am in the Navy and was out at sea before getting the MRI to confirm everything. As of now I am taking Mobic (15mg), Valium, Neurontin, and Vicodin or Tramadol when the pain gets really bad. I am able to swim and workout on an elliptical as well as low weights, but not much else. I am also scheduled to see a Neuro surgeon two weeks after the ESI in the event it doesn't work.

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey guys...a lot of you have been asking about me and I appreciate that. As I sit here now, my back is hurting really bad....I've had the 3 injections and they only provided temporary relief each time. I have also thrown my back out of alignment a lot lately, something that a chiropractor can usually help with, but it keeps happening more, with the pain settling in to where the bad disk is. I'm going to see my doctor today...in addition to regular pain meds, he's given me cortisone pills before which have helped. But I'm also having an MRI next week to see exactly how bad the disk is and how long I can prolong surgery if that is the next step. I am self-employed with our family's own insurance, making my back a pre-existing condition, making all of this even harder than it should be. Is anyone else in the same boat?

Missy 7 years ago

On Friday Jan 30 2008 I had a Epidural steroid injections. The shot did hurt alot! im still in pain. More so then before I had the shot. I have L4 L5 and L5 S1 herniations. Iv been on pain meds for weeks and i hate not being able to think clearly at work. I also have a desk job and i have tons of pillows to more or less lay in my chair not sit. It kills to much to sit. The Doc said since im so skinny the meds he put in my lower back have very little place to go and the pain would be more for a few days. ok im feel likes im going nuts. I placed a call into him this morning and have heard nothing back. any tips from anyone would be helpful. Missy m3hickcox@yahoo.com

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Missy...so sorry to hear that! The 3 injections I had did not hurt much at all, but the relief wasn't quite what I hoped for. I know everyone is different, so you'll have to see what your doc says....if you haven't seen an orthopedic doctor yet I would recommend doing that. or even a neuro surgeon. Or hopefully more folks will read this and e-mail you. Good luck!

wahoochuck2 7 years ago

hey Missy, I actually do the xray work for the injections, and there may be a couple of reasons for your pain. First of all, your size doesn't really matter as far as being painful. The meds. go into your spinal canal. I f your canal is narrowed, it may hurt a bit, but not usually. Also, if you are very nervous during the procedure, the tightening of your muscles actually contributes to some of your pain. It makes the needle harder to get through to your spine, thus causing more pain. The Dr. may have also brushed up againt a nerve during the injection. Not uncommon, but its unavoidable. I say give it a second shot. You could have 10 shots by the same Dr. and have 10 different experiences. Find one you like, and are comfortable with, and you should be fine. Good Luck!!

Missy  7 years ago

wahoochuck2: Thanks for the post back. Yes i was very nervous. He did say the narrowing might have something to do with it he put me on a Medrol Dose pack and iv seen a little change not much. I did see a Nero Doc at first and he said im to young to have the Disc taken out and to try seeing the pain Doc. so yea im still waiting for the pain in my back and legs to go away. The numbness stinks. I have a follow up on the 16th. I hope by then i feel better.

Mary 7 years ago

My dad had his 3rd injection two weeks ago. He is having severe right leg pain and swelling. Has anyone had this symptom and can you tell me how long it will last?

He's discouraged due to not being able to be up and about.

bikerchic 7 years ago

hey, just read ur article. its true the procedures are painless my dr gives a local, so im out! lol anyways im getting my 3rd set tues for me they don't work, hope they do for other. im 24 with 2 discinigrating discs and 1 hurniated on my nerve causing sciatica down my right leg. it all has to do with my l4 l5 sI..... well good luck to all

wish me luck

nick.k 7 years ago

hi guys i have read each comment i know what all of you a dealing with i also had a disc pro laps on the l4-l5. i had 3 injections and no help.

i was on all typs of drugs from tramol,lyrica and oxicodine which made me fill like a junky.

after all that my next step was to be cut open i was 6 weeks away from getting it when i went and saw a chiro he took xrays of me and told me not to get the opp he told me with in 2 weeks he will have me pain free and within 4 weeks ill be up and walking without pain and it happened.

i have been seing my chrio now for 6 months and haven't looked back and im 100% pain free now.

so for the first time since i did my back i went for a run.


if you have and questions please feel free to ask me and i will do my best to help you

Beth 7 years ago

I have had 3 ESI's - the 3rd was just this week. The other two worked pretty well, but then I got worse and now feel numb in my leg and foot. My ESI's are awesome - they put my to "sleep" so I feel nothing! MOST Dr's now days do this - it they don't - go somewhere else. You should not be awake and have this done!

Also - give it a few days rest after your injections! The first two I had, I went and played tennis the very next day, and I honestly think that was not a smart idea. This time, to see if it works better, I will wait 3 days before playing any tennis or doing anything real physical.

Good luck and get the ESI - but make sure you are basically under when they give them.

Bobby 7 years ago

I'm glad I found this site. I am a 35 yr old male in good shape that has been suffering for 1.5 years with a bulging l5 disc. Physical therapy didn't help much. My back pain is constant and varies in intensity from a dull, aching pressure to the burning sensation on the top of my butt, moving down my leg. The pain only reaches that point if I have been sitting for a long time, like a road trip. I am a respiratory therapist, and stay on my feet 12 hours a day, and do a fair amount of bending and lifting. A co-worker just had her 1st esi for a lower-back bulging disc, and says she was pain free the day of the shot, which was 3 days ago. This prompted me to research the ESI, and is how I found this site. I am encouraged by her experience to try it, but am discouraged by many of the comments that I have read online. The most common comments are that the ESI didn't help, or made matters worse. So, please share your experiences and let me know what you think. Is the shot the right thing to do? Thanks!

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

hey Bobby.....I realize it didn't help me and it sounds like you have the same type of pain and situation I do. But I would recommend at least trying the ESI because I think it's different for everyone. Maybe even get two of them and see how that helps.

Kim 7 years ago

I have degenerative disc disease and after months of pain last year, finally had an epidural cortisone shot. I had the option of getting anesthesia though because I was really scared about the whole thing. It was also the first time I ever had that but I'm so glad I got to sleep thru the whole thing! It took about 7 days before I felt any relief and it actually got worse before it got better. Anyway, the shot lasted about 8 months or so until my back started acting up again. It just recently got really bad and I had another MRI showing a herniated disc at L5/S1 compressing a nerve and minor stenosis. Also have a bulging L3/4 and a bulging disc with an annular tear at L4/5. Did I mention I'm only 31?? Sometimes I feel like I'm 90, I swear. So, here I am faced with the same situation again. I've done chiro and PT with no luck. I'm taking naproxen, flexmid, and hydro 7.5/325. Sometimes the pain meds help and other times I've taken 3 in a 2hr period with no relief what so ever. The worst pain is the sciatica. That's a special kind of hell. I could be standing in line at a store and just start swearing out of the blue. People probably think I have tourettes because it's so random but that's how the pain is. A constant gnawing pain in my back and all of a sudden it will sting or stab in my lower butt-top of thigh and spread down to my foot. So, after seeing another neurosurgeon today I think I will try another shot but this time I'm not going to be put out. Atleast I know what to expect now and I pray to God it works again. I wish all of you luck and as much pain relief as you can possibly find!

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

This has been a great read, and the comments helpful. I have not found a solution that reduces my back pain more than about 20%.

It is at L5 S1 (very common) and after forty years of taking medicine and having treatment it has never got any better. The only thing that works for me at all is exercise and that hurts like hell!

chris 7 years ago

Hi my mate was jumping on my back about 2 days ago and it hurts (very little) when i bend down or am sitting (i am fine when sleeping)

i have no idea why i am getting the pain and what it could be ?

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

thank you all for the comments as always...it's great for everyone to share their experiences. I want to add that I started working out with a personal trainer, and have lost 5-6 pounds and put on muscle...I've also been eating very few carbs which has helped. I thought that the core strengthening would help my back...well, at times it feels like it has, but mostly the working out has made me more sore, and I have to admit the overall pain level is as bad as it's ever been.

Also, I saw a specialist a few months back, and he gave me a cortisone shot in my hip, sort of where the sciatic nerve runs down. That helped temporarily but not much more than that. He also told me my condition is not bad enough to require surgery yet.

So like many of you, I'm still just dealing with it and trying to manage the pain as best as possible. It sucks, but I keep saying there are worse things that could happen to us. Hang in there folks, and thanks for the comments....keep 'em coming!

erickt 7 years ago

I'm a 39 year old post-op L5-S1 partial discectomy and L4-L5 Foraminotomy patient. My back pain experience started 4 July 2008 with jumping off a boat to a dock approximately 4 feet away and 18 inches lower than the boat height. Instant L5-S1 herniation. I went through PT, Pain Management (no injections), but lot's of drugs (Fentanyl, Percoset, Lortab, IBU Prophen 800 MG 3x daily, and more. Anything I wanted, I'd be given and told that we should manage the pain and deal with addiction later. This went on for about 9 months with me seeing primary care physician, nero-surgeon, multiple times a month. The last thing I was suggested by my surgeon before surgery was that we could try a chiropractor to rule out that alternative approach. My wife was with me and she couldn't tolerate how much pain I was in and the mood/spirit altering nature of all the drugs I was on. When she told the surgeon this, he indicated that he understood and that since he first saw the MRI results months before hand he felt the only resolution was surgery and was waiting for me to be, "mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for back surgery". Within a few minutes I was scheduled for surgery on March 26, 2009 (less than 10 days later). I was immediately put into a process to get a full exam with my Priamry Care Physician, and an exam with the medical center where the physical surgery would occur. I asked about the results of the MRI and everyone was happy to tell me that based on the MRI and pain reported I should have had surgery a while back! I guess in our litegrous societies we have to get, ""mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for back surgery". I guess the first lesson learned here was that doctor's will interperate test results, but won't necessarily counsel you on what they think should be done and are VERY CONSERVATIVE to leave you the patient/victim to make your medical decisions.

Post Operatively I was pain free for three (3) days! Great right? NOT. They had me walking immediately following surgery and were counseling me not to stay still. They kept me this way for about 6 hours and then released me to go home the same day (in at 6:30am, surgery at 8:00am, out of bed at 11:00am... FAST). Those three pain free days were very encouraging. After the medicine container with the tube in my back were removed at day three (3) things were okay for a few hours, but then things became ugly. Day four (4) I had my follow-up with the surgeon in his office. I told him all of the pain (lower back pain and terrible right leg sciatica) had returned with new symptoms of pain in my lower right but bone (very internal feeling) and periodic left leg sciatica (nominal pain, but there none-the-less). At this time I had Lyrica added to my pain medications and was told that everyone is different and these, "data points" were interesting, but non-conclusive due to the trama of surgery and being only four (4) days out a lot of things could change. What was somewhat infuriating was being told that in another two weeks we could see how I was doing, but I needed to just now "go through the, 'algorithm' to see what/if other positvie/negative data points manifested themselves. I returned for the appointment and found that I had more extreme pain where the surgeon increased the Lyrica dose (and prescribed more Physical Therapy PT), a chiropractor, and Pain Management Clinic for a possible Lumbar Injection), my primary care physician increased the Fentanyl dose and I felt like a zomby going through withdrawls flu-like symptoms every 3 hours (as a result, every 10 days I kicked one of the chemical habbits until the only thing I was on is Ibuprophen 800mg 3x daily. The detox was a living hell, but worth it. I get no benefit from PT whatsoever. I went to the Chiropractor (who works with the Pain Clinic) closely as she used to perform nerve studies for them years ago. After nerve studies it was determined that I had Myelin Sheath damage and the most likely culprit for causing this is "Chemical Inflammation". The best solution recommended was to stop taking Ibuprophen 800MG 3x days, start taking Celebrex 200MG 1x dialy, and to schedule a Lower Lumbar Injection (scheduled for 9 June 2009). The lesson here was that Celebrex started working like a champ within about 24 hours and 80% of my pain went away. Another lesson was that you need groups of professionals looking at things from different perspectives with different toolsets. A surgeon might think surgery, a Chriopractor/Pain Clinic may think inflammation, a PT might think exercise and scar minimization through ultra sound. Each profession has a different view of your world and not one may be right, but all may have a solution.

I am finding Celebrex to be a godsend. I know the above is long winded, but hopefully helpful to someone out here. It was interesting how I thought I was in so much pain, but the checmical cocktails were doing little more than masking symptoms and making me feel like trash. For me, I think we're on the right track chasing down the Checmical Inflamation.

Questions I have:

1) Should I get the injection even though Celebrex has demonstrated huge improvements for me over the last 5 days?

2) Will/Can the Myelin Sheat repair itself? If so, any experience with how long this will take? Apparently the herniation, the surgery, or inflammation could have compromised the nerve's sheat and now the reulsting pain is due to the raw nerve.

3) Any other counsel/advice?

erickt 7 years ago

I just had the injection this morning. Too bad nobody answered my questions though.... So far so good. My right leg is a little wonky. Most of the pain is gone (probably due to the anisthetic). The take home paperwork indicates the pain could come back as the steroid may take 2-5 days to kick in, or the pain could get worse (due to "Steroidal Flare".

Here's hoping for the best. I'll keep posting progress.

erickt 7 years ago

By the way, the wonky right leg was forecast as the nerve under anistehsia is kind of like when you get novicane to your gums... Your lips may function oddly until things wear off. No worries.

Mike Farley 7 years ago

hey Erick....glad it went well....I woud defer to a doctor here to answer your original questions...but I would definitely say getting the injection is a good idea to see if that helps. Keep us posted!

erickt 7 years ago

24 hours later (post injection) I had less pain(4 out of 10 with 10 being the best), but was led to believe that anisthesia would take about 24 hours to fully wear off and that it would be between 2-5 days before the steroid started calming the checmical inflammation.

I took a Celebrex 200mg at an early lunch around 11:00am. Two hours later I have almost no pain. I can feel there is something not quite right in my sciatic area running up my hip into my buttocks, but no pain... it just doesn't "feel right".

Obviously something with the injection is helping out along with the Celebrex as I haven't fealt this good in over a year! Keeping my fingers crossed and going to lay low... make sure I don't do anything that may hurt me just because I feel so good!

youthpastor95 7 years ago

Well, let me just say that I wish I had the luck the rest of you have had. I went yesterday for an epidural steroid injection at L4-L5. I went through the mound of paperwork, the vitals, etc. They gave me something through an IV that was supposed to help me rest. They wheeled me to the procedure room and I met the doctor. He was a very nice man and explained what we would be doing and that he would be finished in about 15 minutes. After being in extreme pain for the last year after having my daughter, I was ecstatic and happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The nurse said she was putting something in my IV to help relax me. She did, and the doctor began. I was in so much pain, he didn't even finish the procedure and stopped before he hit the epidural space. When I say pain, I mean it felt like someone was taking a knife and running it down the back of my calf on my left side. No pain relief at all. I was required to bring my husband to drive me home because they said I would feel a little "loopy", but I walked out of that hospital without any assistance and didn't sleep at all when I got home. I would think that the medicine would have caused me to feel some type of drowsiness????? Has anyone else had anything like this??? I read that everyone said they are virtually pain free during the procedure except for the jolt of lightning. Well, I wasn't able to get that far with it. The doctor said that anatomically, there was no reason for my pain because he was watching everything on the x-ray. I called my back doctor after I arrived home (after suffering one of the worst spasms I have in the last year), but haven't heard back from him yet. I am not sure whether I need to see if they can give me something stronger and attempt it again in hopes that it works, or just bite the bullet and do surgery. Just wondering if anyone else has had an experience like this?

Mike Farley 7 years ago

Dear youthpastor95...so sorry you had to go through that. I'm not sure why, that's definitely a doctor's question. I do know that when I had it done, they didn't do anything like IV to sedate me...it was a simple numbing injection, and after that I didn't feel anything but pressure and that lightning bolt thing everyone describes. Still, it's been almost a year since my third injection and I'm not going to do that again since none of them helped me long-term. Luckily, I think surgery options and technologies are changing rapidly so I am confident we will all have better options soon if we don't have them now. Good luck

Norma Jean 7 years ago

I am to have this procedure next week and I am SCARED

Nashville G-man 7 years ago

hey Norma Jean....trust me, I was scared too, but it's not bad at all. I hope it goes well for you!

Gabriella56 7 years ago

Hello, all, and good luck and best wishes. I just had my 3rd epidural steroid injection into a bulging L4-L5 disc. It was not painful and none of them have been. I got a lot of relief right after my first, and the second gave me a little more relief, but not as much as I thought it would. I'm hoping the third one will fix it (pain radiating down my right leg with numbness.) I work a fairly active job at a bookstore, with prolonged standing and walking. I spent the first 3 months off working with a chiropractor, which for me was a complete waste of time and effort. Chiro is good for some things but he was getting increasingly impatient with my "unwillingness" to get better. After an embarrassing amount of time, I let him off the hook and went to an MD, who checked out the MRIs and suggested i see a DO, osteopathic doctor, who did the injections and prescribed PT. I recommend getting help if chiro isn't working, because you could be on your way to getting the problem fixed without the mumbo-jumbo. I am looking back to to getting back to activities and work, if I can. If you are given the option of the injections, please consider it strongly. It's not appropriate in every instance, but if you can, do it. And beware of someone telling you your back is "cured and healthy" if it clearly is not, especially if it's someone eager to get you out of their office when you can't be fixed. Some doctor. What a bunch of quacks!

bulged disk in east tn 7 years ago

i have a esi scheduled for next tuesday morning i have been sick to my stomach worrying about it and i came across this article and to be honest it has made me feel a little better about it im the type who worries a lot about small things so when the orthopedic surgeon told me i was getting a esi and i found out on the net what it was i began to panc he said they would give me something to help me relax some but id be awake the whole time so i do feel a bit better now ive had surgeries and endoscopys/colonscopys and they were not as bad as my mind led me to beleive but the thought of a huge needle going into my spine has made me kinna leary my surgeon has performed well over a 1,000 of these and nobody has died yet lol. just one of those things that's bark is worse than its bite thanks for helping me ease my fears

Nashville G-man 7 years ago

hey bulged disk.....I'm so glad this hub helped you....that's exactly why I wrote it, because I was worried too. But it really isn't bad at all....you'll feel mostly pressure but won't feel the big needle...and it goes so quickly. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

bulged disk in east tn 7 years ago

i had my esi yesterday and it was the most painful exp i have ever had they say they numb it and don't feel pain??yeah right they only numb so far down and then the dr said i have to exp a little pain while he inserts the big needle with the stereoid let me tell you it was like having my spine being crushed it was so painful i yelled at the top of my lungs they strap you down so you wont move then he digs the needle around every time he took a pic aka moved it so i had to endure several re entrys that's not the worst part he injected the dye and my entire back felt like it was on fire they do not numb you competly you do indeed feel large amounts of pain espically when they inject the stereoid the dr said i will feel some presure he didn't mention the ungodly leg pain feels like someone ripping the nerves out of my leg and yes you do indeed feel the needle every inch of it and its quite painful you feel a hell of a lot more than pressure and that shocking feeling it lasts a lot more than a sec don't let anybody fool you this is a very very painful procedure and even if your asleep you will be in pain all day and the next i was bedridden all day due to the pain in my back/legs headache and today the headache is gone but my leg feels like its on holy fire and my back is so sore i have to have help up and down from a setting position they lie to your face and tell you oh it wont hurt you wont feel a thing(the nurses at the back centeR) trust me you will indeed feel a lot of pain swelling nausea if anybody thinks about having this done it has not worked for me and when they say its painless that's the biggest bunch of crap ive ever heard of it hurts a lot and i will never under any circumstances ever reconsider this wasteful ripoff unneeded procedure again all this is is a money pit for the dr who chares well over a 1,100 bucks just for giving a 15 minute shot the place you had it done by the time its all said and done that one worthless shot will have costed well above 8500 bucks and it puts you through the worst pain you'll ever exp and id rather have my back/leg pain before the shot and the shot and the exper afterwards it took about 4 hrs for the numbing to wear off then it was pure unadultreted hell please reconsider ever having this painful useless shot i guess pain meds and physical therapy and a good lawyer which i already have are my next steps since my case is a worker comp case since surgery is no option looks like a long road ahead which just got longer when my hopes were dashed in a sec from the wasteless shot i had to endure

bulged in east tn 7 years ago

the place where i had the shot from hell called me a few secs ago asking how i was doing then she asked me was there anything there staff could have done to improve patients visits i told her there nurses could start by not lying about procedures i understand there there to make patients feel comfortable but when i asked my nurse when she was taking my vitals to be honest and tell me the truth was this going to be painful as i quoted this article and a few others to show her i wasn't naïve of what was about to happen she and the other nurse assigned to me stood there and said i wouldn't feel a thing she said the inatial shot to numb me would be a little painful which it was not that bad but she said the rest of it would be painfree onlything i would feel would be pressure and zero pain i told the lady on the phone today that i was upset about being lied to and that it had made the exp a lot worse and that i would never have it done again she apologized but i guess the damage has been done i wont sugar coat my exp it was painful as hell and nothing like what i read on the net or anything that i have been told by the staff its very painful and traumatic to go through and its day 2 and no relief its just gotten worser

Nashville G-man profile image

Nashville G-man 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

wow,I'm so sorry you had a bad experience with your ESI.

I honestly had no problems with mine, as did most of the people who have commented here, so it's good to hear another point of view, though I'm sure everyone reading this hub feels awful for you that you had a difficult time with your injection. I hope you feel better soon!

bulged in east tn 7 years ago

day 3 and im still in pain my right leg still feels like its on fire the spot where i got my injections is black and blue with swelling zero relief on a scale of 1 through 10 its a 11 i called the dr offic e yesterday evening and i was told he will be out of the office next 2 weeks so i asked the nurse what am i to do if i still have complications from the shot(leg burning,nausea,cant sleep,horrendous pain) she told me id either have to go to the emergency room on my own dime or wait 2 weeks and hope it goes away and see the dr when he gets back from cancun mexico no wonder he was in a hurry to get out of dodge that and the fact that i wanted to wring his neck his nurse acted like i was making up the exp she said he never had anybody that said they felt pain from the shot so i guess that says a lot about the places cararcter, if a dr tells you have to have this shot by all mens demand them put you to sleep atleast you wont have to feel the torture i went through i know everybodys exp will be diff but to me it was rough

henry  7 years ago

i have l5 s1 herinated disk, i found out few days ago when i did the mri , now as a 1st step the doctor said the cortisone injection is benefitial

but i have a feeling i will die before doing it ,becs i am so afaraid of it

so just in case i don't write aggain here means i passed away

my age is 37 and i live in a country called lebanon

Pauline UK 7 years ago

I am not sure whether this site has helped me or not. I would really appreciate some feedback if anyone has encountered the same problems as me. I have suffered with disc degeneration for approx. 10 years (I am 40) when I did a physical job it would often cause my back to go into spasms but a couple of weeks on high pain meds and anti inflammatories would soon sort out the problem and I would be back to normal. I decided eight years ago to go back to office/admin work which seemed to help my back with very few episodes and even then I could work through them with the pain meds and anti inflams. Just before Christmas 2008 I experienced severe pain in my back and was actually signed off work and could not move at all. Again after a few weeks it appeared to wear off a bit and I could cope with the pain and go back to a somewhat normal life. It never really got any better and gradually I was left with such severe referred nerve pain that I could not move. My husband had to lift me in and out of the bath, I could not even get to the toilet on my own. I was referred to one of the best surgeons in the country and after an MRI which showed Acute right L5/S1 disc prolapse causing right S1 radiculapathy. I was put on Lyrica 300mg a day. I was also taking dyhydracodiene, liquid morphine, diclofenic, valium and so many other drugs that I was like a zombie (and I have to say the only up side was that the meds helped me sleep, they definitely did not help with the severity of the pain). I was admitted for an emergency discectomy on 4th June 2009. I was released from hospital the next day only being told that my back was now stable. I continued to take the Lyrica but stopped all other medication and have to admit that the withdrawals were quite unpleasant but the pain had decreased to a nagging ache which seemed to be recovery from the surgery rather than pain radiating through the nerve. Approx. four weeks after the surgery I sat (with correct posture) to do some admin work for approx two hours. Here is where my problem has started again. The next day it felt like my right buttock was filled with concrete with a feeling of being continuously kicked and no posture was comfortable. I was sent for another MRI with a dye injection to see if the problem is the remainder of the disc or a build up of scar tissue. I get the results tomorrow. After reading this site I am very worried that they are going to recommend the epidural injection. I am a mother to two very physical boys aged 12 and 14. I used to run the line and referee at their football, umpire at their cricket etc. I feel that I am no longer able to fulfill the role that my children need from me. I have now lost my job due to continued absenteeism and have the added worry of paying the bills. I am not in the amount of pain that I was in before the operation but I cannot sit for more than a couple of minutes, can only lie on my left hand side and am now suffering from such severe night sweats that I am lucky if I am getting 2 hours sleep in 24 hours.

If anyone has any information or helpful tips, advice etc. please please post back. I have my appointment to find out the results of my MRI tomorrow and am just hoping that there will be some kind of solution to get my life back on track.

Pauline UK 7 years ago

Have just received results of MRI which show very little. They seem to think that I am having these problems due to inflammation in the area that the disc was removed. It didn't show enough scar tissue to warrant the type of pain that I am experiencing so I have been put forward for a cortisone injection which I should have within the next two weeks.

I spoke to the dr. about the comments on this site and he talked me through the procedure step by step and put my mind at rest. I will be having the procedure under a local aneasthetic and will be having an out patients appointment two weeks after the injection.

I will post back with results and feelings on the procedure as soon as I have had it.

I feel blessed that I live in the UK and all of this is being done on the NHS (so cannot accuse of trying to make money by carrying out procedures that are not necessary).

I have been told that the back cannot be an exact science and they would like to try this procedure to see if it alleviates the symptoms otherwise they will need to go back in and have another look to see if there are any reasons (which do not show on MRI) which would mean build up of more scar tissue and them going in blind and looking for problems rather than knowing what the procedure needs to be before going under sedation.

ZMan 7 years ago

My experience with my first and yet more to come ESI.

My pain management doc put me into "twilight" sleep which I would definitely recommend as I can't imagine staying still otherwise. Also, very important, he/she uses the fluoroscopy x-ray technique to guide the needle to wear the painful nerves are effected, otherwise it is a crap shoot which I suspect has something to do with success rate.

Well, after my first injection four days ago, my pain has been reduced..at time it seems to be gone and others it is reduced by about 25%. I am more able to do stretches that before would have caused my muscles to tense up and limit my range of motion. The procedure itself was not as bad a I anticipated. The most painful part was actually when the "twilight" was injected into my IV and it felt like my arm was being deprived of blood for about 30 seconds...after that smooth sailing. I did not feel the ESI even happen though I was awake the entire time, I think, and the entire process once on the table lasted less than 15 minutes. In the room, there was the pain management doctor, an anesthesiologist, the x-ray tech and a nurse (full house) which was actually comforting, not to mention rock music playing in the background which became the topic amongst all of us during the "fun"...it was a distraction method I'm sure and it worked.

Without a doubt I would recommend the ESI before even considering surgery and will be having my second ESI in about two weeks with a third if needed/wanted. My doctor claims over 70% success rate of greatly improved pain reduction and has the patient list that seems to verify it. My only concern is the longevity of the procedure. Will the reduction of pain be days, weeks or years.

One very important note, if the ESI works, it is still only a fix...not a cure. It does not get rid of the bulge, annular tear, herniation, etc. but rather allows the inflammation to reduce and keep pressure off those nerves.

The key to me seems a lifestyle change is necessary to prevent further damaged and "flare-ups". For an active type like myself...this was, and still is, the mental part of the equation that is challenging at 42 years of age.

Derek 7 years ago

I Have L5-S1, left posterolateral disc herniation. Does the ESI really work?? I am hoping that I only need one ESI to get me back to a normal lifestyle. I'v been dealing with this problem for well over a year. I tried PT recently and I think it made it worst.What if ESI's does not work? Is my only option Surgery then?

Nashville G-man 7 years ago

hey Derek..I think I may have the same thing as you..actually I think what you described is very common, not that it makes it any less bearable. I recommend everyone try this procedure because I think everyone's body makeup and disk problem is different. I have had my problem since 2004 and nothing has really helped...chiropractor adjustments help temporarily, the ESI helped temporarily, but therapy and working out seem to put more strain on it. But if I don't work out or do stretches, I've thrown my back out (pinched a nerve or something, which if you have had, is sheer agony for a few days)...so it's important to keep exercising through soreness. I have also been told surgery isn't the best option at this stage, but that's hard to take with the dull, aching pain from this type of condition. Anyway, don't mean to be discouraging but I definitely recommend you try the ESI and hopefully it works the first time!

sickofthepain 7 years ago

just found this site while searching for info on back pain/cortisone shots/microdiscectomy...

after being in pain (sciatic, low back) for 8+ months, despite various PT, advil, stretches, exercise, etc, I opted for the cortisone shot. I did almost no research first, because I didn't want to scare myself.

The pain of the 3 injections (air, dye, cortisone) was noticeable, but bearable. I was virtually pain-free for the next 2 days, and it was great! Like being my "old self"!!

However, the relief was short-lived, so I kept my pre-scheduled 2nd visit for a month later. I expected the same -- discomfort, followed by relief from pain. Unfortunately, I'd say I experienced the same "crushing pain" as the person who posted their bad experience above. The first "blow" was stunningly bad. It really shocked me, and I told the doc I couldn't take it. She claimed it was because my disc was bulging so much. She moved down to the next disc, which is also bulging. Again, the injection of air was so incredibly painful, I actually screamed, and then started crying like a baby. Then I was angry, both at the hopeless feeling that I'd never get relief from the pain, and also at the doc for inflicting the worst pain I've ever felt, as far as I can remember. I seriously felt beat up. I said "just forget it!" and wished they could just rip the nerve out there and then.

I think the doc felt sheepish or maybe personally insulted that I didn't/couldn't go through with the procedure. She came and talked with me in the recovery area, basically giving me a list of names of neurosurgeons she recommends in the area.

what a bummer. I haven't been that furious in a long time.

I have submitted an application for microdisectomy to a surgeon in the area, but haven't heard back yet. in the meantime, I've tried chiro (what a joke!) and have an appt with an ortho tomorrow. the pain seems to have migrated into my hips, making walking really uncomfortable. Advil is the only thing that helps, or an ice pack (esp when I wake up at 4 am writing in pain!)

it's possible that being "uptight" or "skinny" makes the injection more painful. that was one of my own personal theories, even before reading what other people wrote on here. hope to find out more tomorrow.

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headoncollision 7 years ago

I am greatful for finding this article. I've been a nurse for going on 9 years, but my career came to a screaching halt after my son and I were in a head on collision 6 months ago. I have conflicting medical reports. CT shows disk herniations from c2-c6, the worst being c5/c6 with central stenosis to 9.9 mm. After months of "lets ignore it" treatment, meds, PT, a home cervical traction machine- I'm still sleeping in a chair every night. Granted PT did help some as I can now bathe myself, shave my own legs, and wash my own hair with minimal (by minimal I mean WAY less than previous) pain. I can not drive more than 20 minutes without suffering 10/11 on the 0-10 scale. I am currently on Klonopin for "benign myoclonic jerks" and Darvocet for pain. I've had a medrol dose pack with absolutely no results, it actually made me feel worse (flu like run down symptoms). So, my attorney sent me to a new neurosurgeon and I'm scheduled for an ESI at c5/c6 next week. After reading all the posts here I'm confident that I should not feel much during the procedure as my doc uses conscious sedation as well as a local anesthetic, so for that I thank you all for lessening my fears. My more serious concern is that since I got no relief with the medrol dose pack whatsoever, I may not get any relief from this ESI. Secondly, I'm worried that even if I do get some relief my attorney will settle my case and weeks, months later my pain will return; and there I'll be with a pre-existing condition that the insurance I get when I'm finally able to return to work won't cover. Since I also have degeneration, I know that is it inevitable that eventually I will have to have surgery. I'm curious if any of you took oral steroids prior to your ESI, and if so, if you had any relief. I wont sugar coat this and deny that my pain has not been so severe that I have at times been suicidal. The thought of "living" with this kind of pain for the rest of my life is enough for me to set aside the the values and religious beliefs I've held all my life. My primary care physician put me on a couple different SSRI antidepressant/anti-anxiety meds which I had a life threatening reaction to, so I can't count on that to lift my spirits enough to keep me from ending the pain the only guaranteed way. I'm 33 years old, have 2 children and a very loving, supportive husband. Honestly if it were not for them, I may not be here today to write this wordy post. We paid the COBRA premiums as long as we could without me working; but as you can imagine the loss of a nurse's pay considerabely cut our budget. Approximately 10 days ago my neuro prescribed me darvocet which helped for about 7 days. By helped I mean, knocked me out. While I HATED being knocked out all day, I don't feel the pain when I'm sleeping. But when I wake up, I feel like the wreck happened yesterday. At this point, not only is the Darvocet not easing my pain, or knocking me out, I'm beginning to get rebound headaches from it. I'm too young to sit in this chair zombied by pain pills. I feel like if I could get 3-5 days of pain free days from this $8,000 procedure, it would be like winning 5 grand on a scratch off lottery ticket. If this ESI "cures" me it would be like hitting the powerball or mega millions for 132 million. Any words of encouragement or experiences are appreciated. Next Friday can't come fast enough for me :)

derek 7 years ago

I had an ESI on sep 10, 2009

derek 7 years ago

I had an ESI on Sep 10, 2009 to treat a herniated disc in L5-S1. The ESI was pain free and quick. I had severe pain before the epidural. It took the ESI five days to work. Pain killers helped in the mean time. I never needed to use them but I am using Lorcet 10mg and it works. The first ESI helped me a lot but I still have pain. I’m due for another ESI next week. It’s really hard to tell what the second ESI will do. I am in pain right now I really try to hold off on using pain killers until I really need them. Nerve pain is very hard to deal with it requires both the use of medications and a strong mind set. I have been dealing with pain since early 2008 but at a much lower intensity than I have been experiencing the past month. It’s very important to realize that pain which lasts more than 4-8 week is not normal pain and therefore is described as chronic pain, but that doesn’t mean it will never go away, rather it “should” mean that it will take time and effort to find a treatment and a suitable life style to help the body heal. Stay Positive a strong mind= a strong body.

kcs636 7 years ago

Just a comment on the ESI. I had my second one Sept 25. My first one in Sept 2006 was great. Before the first injection I had no back pain and only terrible calf/hip/foot nerve pain. After that injection, I remember going back to the doctor and telling him I felt 97% better.

Three years later I had the same symptoms. A slight back injury and two months later I have no back pain, but the same nerve pain is back and very painful, especially at night.

I'm not even 48 hours after my injection and I'm trying to remember how I felt 3 years ago at each moment, and it's just not possible.

My advice for those considering a first ESI is keep a diary. Write down your symptoms before, after the shot and after each day. If the ESI is effective (and I read about so many that are not) then this will be useful information for you in the future and the effectiveness of the shot.

headoncollision profile image

headoncollision 7 years ago

Ok, so I had my 2 ESI's this past Friday and with the exception of the soreness from the doc poking and prodding around under my skin tissues I actually feel better and feel like it did help me. I also had facet injections. However, for all the people who said I wouldn't feel or remember a thing...they LIED. I remember everything and felt everything, even cried because it hurt; despite having versed (conscious sedation x2, iv fentanyl, and 2 locals). But overall, it was worth it. I'm looking forward to getting back to some sense of normalcy in my life; and praying that these injections last me at least a year. This being the third day post injection, is the first day I have really not needed my pain meds. So I'm taking the muscle relaxers so that I can painlessly start strengthening my very tight neck muscles. Best thing that has happened to me in a long time:)

John C 7 years ago

I have deteriorated L5-S1 disk with bulge deflecting the nerve. I had the first shot by a doc who wrote the book on the procedure and used only local, the first shot was a lot of help to my left side but didn't help the right side. Went back for a second shot and it was horriffic. He was rushing (wish I would told him to stop rushing or let me out) and got through it in about 4 minutes. The local didn't work for some reason (probably didn't give enough time to work) and when he gave me the main shot it felt like lava in my spine and down my left leg [I think he cut the nerve with the needle]. After about 4 days it felt better so I went to work, I started getting pain in the lower back and all of my right leg after about 5 hours. Felt better in the morning so I went to work again but couldn't take it after 4 hours and left. I've been out for 3 weeks now and having trouble walking or sitting much. Wish I didn't get the second shot. My best advice is to get one by someone good and if it doesn't help don't keep going as there is a big risk of permanent damage, especially the more you do it. Try something else.

Sam 7 years ago

Hi Everyone:

These posts are so helpful as they give me hope that this pain will clear up.

My sob story: Had a muscle pull in my neck (sadly, didn't realize that's all it was) and mistakenly went to a chiropractor who cracked my upper back and neck. My whole world was rocked. My entire back went into spasm, neck was in serious pain, and headache began all day every day.

After six weeks of physical therapy, the area around C6-T2 was still very sore and headaches were constant. MRI's showed three herniated discs. Neuro wanted facet injections, but PM mistakenly gave injections into discs (which again were only sore and not "painful" at the time). Not only did this not help headaches, but I've been in agony after each of two ESI's.

After first ESI in left C7/T1 my whole upper back "lit" up. After 2 1/2 weeks of constant icing, it finally settled down, but I foolishly allowed them to try a second which immediately set off the area anew. It's now been 2 1/2 weeks and I'm in agony. Constant throbbing/burning/piercing pain in that space.

I can only hope that it's simply bad inflammation and nerve irritation and that it will slowly get better. Of course, I'm paranoid there's nerve damage, internal bleeding, disc damage, etc.

What does doc say? "It couldn't be the shot, probably just original problems." I told him original problem was discomfort, now I'm in pain! His response: "What harm could a little needle do? Let's try another one."

I'll check back in next week with status.

I've heard some say nerve inflammation can last a good month, sometimes even six months, and unfortunately, if real damage, chronic.



erickt 7 years ago

For what it's worth... I'm 5 months post 1st injection and 3.5 months post 2nd injection. You can look at my posting history for details on my issues...

The 2nd injection was well worth it for me. I didn't see any results for a day or so and then felt relief. At this point ~8 months since the surgery I'm almost pain free.

Post surgical therapy demonstrated I had Mylar nerve damage.

1) It really helped staying on Celebrex 200MG daily for several months (even though I didn't feel I needed it... I was implored to stay on it or Ibuprofen 800MG 3x daily)

2) PT and a Chiropractor specializing in Pre/Post-Op Back Surgeries prescribed by my neurosurgeon about 3x weekly for 4 months was great.

3) Back exercises strained and gave me numerous set backs (perhaps because of all the tissues, muscles, etc. around the nerves agitating the sheath around the nerve). I am thinking about starting the back exercises again as I'm overweight and need exercise.

I don't know if I'll post again, but wish everyone the best with their choices in care.

Best Wishes!

angela 7 years ago

Im glad i saw these posts because last week i went for a esi and it was the most painful thing i ever had done in my life. the doctor could not finish the proceedure and actualy got mad saying he does these all the time and no one gives him problems! he told me to come back and try again next week and take a valium before i come. I am not going back!!! i thought my leg was going to explode it hurt so bad, like the muscles where about to pop. i yelled and jumped and he had to stop i agreed to try again..same thing..i really tried but it was unbearable. I left there crying i was so mad. Im wondering if it has anything to do with the condition of the nerves since some people feel it and some don't, all i know is that was outragous pain. and to make matters worse the attempt irritated the problem and my foot is twice as numb as it was before. (L5-S1) well at least i know now that im not the only one that felt that pain.

Tony 7 years ago

L3, L4, L5, S1 injured in 2004. IDET (disc thermal trx) did not work. Suffered for years until the summer of 09 and the discomfort became unbearable. New MRI revealed stenosis, bulging, and a synovial cyst at S1. Tried a couple of Chiros, saw a neurosurgeon who was leery of the benefits of surgery and recommended Facet Joint injections at S1, L5, and L4.

Not a bad procedure but it did not work.

Today they did a caudal epidural steroid injection. Procedure was fine until the steroid was introduced and, while it didn't hurt much, I almost passed out. They cracked a couple of ice packs for my neck and it worked out okay.

12 hours later and the numbness has worn off and the pain has returned, maybe not as bad as before, but it is always the second thing on my mind. Hopeful things get better in the next couple of days.

Not the worst procedure in the world but certainly not much fun.

Mary 7 years ago

I have a small disc protrusion at L4-L5. I have had terrible pain for 9 months. I have tried Medrol Dose Pack, a general Epidural which just goes in the epidural space, physical therapy, a Chiro and then I went to a neurosurgeon. He is not jumping to do surgery on me. I am 53. I had a transforaminal Epidural on 12/30/09 which is an Epidural closer to the nerve root. It hurt alot but I don't care about the procedure, I care about getting rid of the pain. So far, it has relieved some back and groin pain, but I think it has increased my leg pain after 5 days.

Keystone from Pittsburgh 7 years ago

I just hat dhe epidural steroidal cervical injection yesterday, I'll return in two weeks for the second set. It was painless. I have had epidurals in the head for occipital neuralgia, those are done in the office, a simple injection, no reall biggie, but they never helped me.

I was rear-ended at 60 MPH by a lady on a cell phone, knocked unconscious for 10 minutes, TBI, bulged cervical disks, now with chroinc pain, cognitive issues, chroinc tinnitus, etc.., allof you know the routine.

Back to injections, I had facet injectios, two sets, a couple weeks a part, a year ago, C3 thru C7, C6 was a bad part of my injury which is expected for bad hyperextension injuries. Thos e did not help me at all. The facet's were a little uncomfortable I would call it. They gave me an iv and then you lay on your stomach in the OR, the xray doc helps the pain doc guide the needles. The first series I din't think were that bad of a procedure at all, I thought it would be a lot worse, the second series, however, were a lot more touchy for me, maybe the doc was having a bad day?

But the epidural yeasterday has given me increased pain now, bu tthey say this may occur, as the opening article states that lasted 3 or 4 days. My chronic head pain is elevated as well, but manageable. So on the epidural procedure, don't worry at ll about them, it was easy and completely paineless, they put an iv in, then when they wheel you donw the hall they are putting some drips in your iv to relax you, it may have been morphine, I'm not sure, I was in and out of hte OR in 10 minutes, the injection was a couple minutes and I felt absolutely nothing. It probably depends on where you are getting it done, perhaps a surgery center attached to a hospital is better than a stand alone surgery center along the highwya? My facet's were 'uncomfortable', the epidural was painless.

Hope this info helps and good luck to all my pain friends. At least thank goodness for hydrocodone, and I plan to learn to keep fighting and living with apin with minimal medds, and take a rest from 2 1/2 years of treatment, I'm sonde with all this stuff, in general, injections work only 15% of the time not what the doc's say which is 80%.

karen 6 years ago

After 5 months of excruciating chest and spine pain @ C6-7 my Dr. gave me Fentanyl patches. This was a sanity and life saving thing for me. NO side effects at all unlike regular narcotics (pills) that have horrible, intolerable side effects. Just pure pain relief 24/7. I don't understand why after so long some of you haven't been offerred these patches. But you have to have been on some type of opioid for a while before starting them. I am NOT some young kid looking for drugs. I'm a 63 y.o. retired Critical Care RN. But I can tell you these patches have turned my life around. I also am a very active tennis player.

I also just had my 2nd ESI at C6-7. I got only a week's worth of relief from pain from the first one. I had the 2nd one about 6 days ago and so far not much further relief.

As far as the procedure, I had it done in out patient surgery. They put you to sleep. It is a breeze, no pain no nothing. It's done and your awake again, before you know it. People are wonderful. I just wish I had better results.

Sarah  6 years ago

I'm glad I found this site. I had my first ESI a week ago for a herniated disk in my lower back. Here's my experience...

The procedure itself didn't hurt. It was more just frightening, if you haven't had anyone poke around your nerves before. There's something a little bizarre about it, like ventriloquism. Afterward, I had been told I could go to work and get myself home on the subway, both of which I find next to impossible. For 24 hours, I couldn't sit or stand in one place for more than a few minutes, and I only found relief with a donut cushion. It was a mix of shooting pains all down both legs and into my hips and a heavy ache in my lower spine. I cried, because I wasn't told it would be like that, and I was scared I'd damaged myself forever (even worse than before).

By the second day, the pain from the herniated disc was gone, and I had my mobility back... but the ache and shooting pains took 4 days to clear up. Sadly, they were replaced by hot flashes during the day, night sweats that keep me up each night, and flushing in which my face turns bright tomato red. In addition, I had massive mood swings: a mild manic episode for the first 48 hours, followed by a deep depression for a few days after. It passed, but I wish I had expected it. I wish my boyfriend had expected it.

Now I'm just waiting to see what the next phase is and how long the pain relief will last. I haven't yet decided if it's worth going through a second ESI, but the only prospect I have left is surgery, which doesn't sound good either.

The most frustrating feeling is the medical offices. Maybe it's just because I'm in such a big city (NYC), but it's a bit like a slaughterhouse. I don't feel like the doctor's take the time to know about their patients or review potential side effects, and it makes me wary of trusting anyone to give me an injection, much less operate on my back. I'm all for trying out the options, but when you replace your old symptoms with even worse ones? I just don't know.

Betty 6 years ago

I just finished my third ESI. The first one did hardly anything - came out of anesthesia saying 'it's burning, my leg, it's burning!" That was the biggest complaint I'd had the whole time - my back hurt horribly - the 'meteor' that would burn in my left 'butt cheek' was no fun - but the fire burning down the front of my left leg was HORRID. No change after 1st shot - the 2nd shot changed my life as the burning stopped, completely stopped! It ached, especially around my knee, but no burning, NO BURNING! I got the third shot today, and am so glad I went through with the entire series like my spinal specialist prescribed. I was put under conscious sedation so didn't feel any of the needles in my back - or at least I don't REMEMBER them if I did. I don't know how long this will last, but the past two weeks have been remarkable for me!

heathers77 6 years ago

Can someone please help me understand. I have been dealing with neck pain since the end of sept. I have tried PT with not much relief at all. I had a xray and MRI that showed a couple of bulging disks,and messed up nerves, i cannot remember excatly which ones. It all started with severe right arm pain, and i could feel pain in my collar bone on my right side, then as that pain started going away it was all coming from my neck.I also have alot of pain on the top part of my spine (best way to describe it is, from my bra strap up) I have not had a MRI on that part, just my neck, because i feeling like so many things were going wrong and i didn't want my doc to think i was a nut! I just had my first ESI Jan.29, it was a horrible experience for me, i have no pain tolerence at all to begin with! I was ok until that evening, i feel like the pain is worse than what it was before i got it, it has now been 7 days and i cant lean my head back or forward without terrible pain.Lifting anything is out of the question too. I just don't understand why i hurt so bad this long after my 1st injection. I am scheduled for my 2nd on feb. 17th and i am really afraid to get it done. Also when i got it done,everytime he said picture i could feel my vertabra "pop" did anyone else have this experience? I have taken flexarol for night time to help me sleep, also am take vicoden 10/660 and it does not seem to help me anymore, the doctor had me try percocet, but i didn't like the way it made me feel tired so he put me back on vicoden which i take 4x a day.Does anyone have any suggestions to a decent pain med that will help me? Thank you for any input!

Bill M. 6 years ago

I have spinal stenosis with a bulging disc in the L4-L5 vertebrae. I had a series of 3 epidural injections 6 months ago and they helped me tremendously as I could not walk before I had them. They are starting to wear off now and I am scheduled for a second set starting next week. They are easy to tolerate. The more that I have read and consulted with PT's the more I have been told to make surgery a last resort.

carolinaski 6 years ago

Had my first ESI (L5 - S1 disk bulge) today and will let everyone know outcome. The initial placement of the needle was not a problem (no pain), but when he started to push the meds down if felt like a rod was being pushed from my hip to my ankle. Every time he pushed more meds, the pain would could back worse. The whole thing only lasted a few minutes and had no problem once they were done. Will wait and see if the original pain comes back. It's been about 8hrs and my I'm feeling some pain in the lower back and leg, but different than before the procedure. Leg didn't really go numb, but it's been numb because of the bulge for the last few weeks anyway. Great site and it's nice to be able to read about others experience.

Annie 6 years ago

My son had his second thoracic epidural injection 5 days ago. On the ride home in the car, his left side from the injection site down started to go numb. It has been numb ever since. He is dragging his leg, so to speak. He is able to walk but it's like his leg weighs 300 lbs. His skin has a numb sensation like after going to the dentist. The doctor seems to be in a CYA mode. Saying that he's never seen a neurological problem after the procedure. Usually just pain. My son had a second MRI and it showed nothing. They are saying it is nerve damage and will "go away" in their opinion. HAS anyone ever experienced anything like this before. I am scared to death that this is permanent.

rollercoasterback profile image

rollercoasterback 6 years ago

Hi. I'm a veteran to ESI's. I suffer from adult-onset scoliosis and facet arthrosis. I must admit, my pain management doc has me spoiled. I've had 3 injections so far and have ALWAYS received conscious sedation before hand. 2 out of 3 of the injections were successful but the onset of pain relief took about 1-2 weeks. The first 24 hours after the injections, I have experienced increased pain, soreness, flushing, low-grade fever and sleeplessness. I don't know what they do to me in there but I don't feel so good the first day or so! I take it easy! These injections help but they are not an answer to folks with chronic pain conditions. Eventually, the long term use of a steroid will cause scar tissue and bone demineralization.

kc 6 years ago

I had my first EPI a few days ago and I do not want to go back for the 2nd. I was told I'd feel some pressure. Well, it was the most excruciating pain of my life, as others mentioned. Everyone's case is different, but be prepared it could happen to you. I screamed and cried like I can't remember when. It was a bit humiliating. I would have liked sedation by IV had I known. How much it would have helped I don't know. I am thinking of getting a second opinion, and go from there. May also consult a neurosurgeon soon as well.

lori 6 years ago

I have been suffering from a herniated discs(siatica) L 5&6 since June 2009. My right leg feels like it's in a vise,my foot is completely numb.I had gone to a chiro.until November with no relief. I went to a pain management dr who i was referred by my ortho.My injections were done at a hospital as an out patient i was asleep.After the first injection on Jan 14,2010 I woke up with no pain! I actually felt my foot ! I could have done back flips !!!It was wonderful,however the pain came back within 12 hours!!Sleeping is the worst have not had a decent nite's sleep in months,cannot sit in a car/plane for any length of time. Going to a movie is out. The only thing that helps is walking,but u can't walk 24/7. The inversion table give me temporary relief.I will only take over the counter pain meds,during the day and a RX at nite. I was so looking forward for the second injection on Jan 29,2010,when I woke up I asked if the procedure was done !I woke up with the same pain that I had before the procedure.It never "kicked in" that I was told it would. I will try one more injection,that is all my insurance will pay for. I am trying to avoid surgery so hopefully the 3rd one will be the charm.It was so wonderful to be pain free but it did not last long !!

shenderson250 6 years ago

hi everyone, I am so glad I came across this site, there is so much valuable information for everyone, let me share mt short story real quick,my pain began about 3 years ago but didn't get ridiculous until about March 2009, I finall went to see a spine doc, got the mri, told that I had degenerative disc disease L3,L4,L5, did some research, was referred to pain management had my first esi on Feb 19, 2009, the procedure wasn't too bad, especially since the pain I have been in for the past years has been worse, so I won't wine about it, I survived it, felt great about 2 days then right back to painful days, long nights with insomnia due to the pain that just seems never ending, but after reading all of the posts,I really have a sense of hope, even if it takes a while, it is always a possibility that one day I will get some relief, I am a mom of four active girls and this pain has surely weighed heavy on our family. my husband has had to take over so much in the 3 years because of the pain,so it 's not just me it is all of us, so yes I am in search of the magic bullet, I am scheduled for the second esi on March 5, 2010 with fingers crossed, looking for any relief, so I can return to my family in some type of capacity, it is so great to be understood by someone who knows how awful the pain can really get, and offer some sound advice from their experiences to help others, that is great. I have the most pain when walking or standing for 5 minutes, the pain radiates like electricity and fire all at once, the only way for me to cope is to sit on the floor or lay flat on the floor, this pain has caused me to stay indoors and that truly has made my family a prisoner also, before this we were always on the go, doing things outdoors, now walking or standing longer than 5 minutes is horrific, I hope there is something out there not just for me, for all of us back pain sufferers so we can get back to the life we had, I would even take a piece, if it means relief and being active once again with my family.

Jen 6 years ago

Hi everyone,

I had my injections on Monday and it's wednesday now, had them on both sides of L4 and L5 with all the numbing injections I had 12 injections and it was not pleasant and was quite unconfortable. I wouldn't say It hurt very much especially if I added up all the pain I've had over the last 8 years it was barely a twinge!

Not really seeing much improvement yet I sat for a whole minute this morning without pain which I've not done in 8 months so fingers crossed it will keep improving! Has anyone had any problems going to the toilet afterwards? Will let you all know how I get on!

Scotty Doc profile image

Scotty Doc 6 years ago


Great hub

I'm a doctor with a special interest in back pain and in joint injections. I'm busy mind mapping a resource for those who might need joint injection information. You can take a look at it here:


I'll build in a link back to this hub.

It's still a bit of a work in progress but I will try to add info about epidural steroid injections ASAP

Great work Gman - love this hub

marcia  6 years ago

my mom went to get her second injection done and never came out, she went in to cardiac arrest and went on life support never made it, i have read of so many people that has went through this.

Sue 6 years ago

I had an epidural 2 days ago and my back feels better but have a terrible charley horse in my right leg now, dr said the nerve has to calm down and use ice. I've had 3 of these before but not leg pain at all. I felt him hit the nerve when he did it, called him and he said the procedure went as planned. I'm so mad, my leg pain keeps me up at night, can hardly walk on it, made matters worse

Ruptured in Seattle 6 years ago

I came across this site a couple of months back and promised myself I would come back and post my experiences as soon as I was able to sit at the computer again. I have been dealing with a ruptured disc at L-4, L-5 for several months. Not even sure when exactly it happened but went from having back pain to having the whole lower left side of my body in excruciating pain. I waited a month to see a doctor hoping it would go away but it got so bad I was losing my ability to function. On my first visit to a GP she gave me Hydrocodone and a muscle relaxer to take. After 2 weeks—no improvement so I went to a spine specialist.

Specialist determined from X-ray that I had a herniated disc and gave me a 5 day course of oral steroids and sent me to physical therapy. No improvement from that. Next step was the MRI in preparation for the ESI. After seeing the results of the MRI it was clear that I had a large rupture that had to be severely pressing on my sciatic nerve. A picture is worth a thousand words! No one looks at the MRI without saying “Ouch”.

For the most part—I didn’t find the injections painful. There were 2 brief moments when it really hurt. The first was when they injected the dye. The second was when they injected the steroids. It did hurt a lot at those 2 times BUT it only lasted for about 30 seconds. For the ladies out there—I would liken the pain to a severe menstrual cramp that comes on suddenly but then disappears after about 30 seconds.

The first shot did nothing. My Dr. said we should try a second one before referring me to a surgeon. The second one didn’t do anything either. So—I moved ahead to a consultation with a surgeon, had the stupid thing removed and am now 9 days post-op. He said that my rupture was the size of a .50 piece and there were a couple loose fragments in there too. Basically, he removed about ½ the volume of my disc material.

After finding out the size of the rupture I know I made the right decision as it could have taken a very long time for the material to dissolve on its own. I am now pain-free. I do still have some tingling in my foot and ankle but it doesn’t actually hurt and I am quite confident that will go away once my nerve “forgives me”.

So—here are my thoughts in retrospect-

I think that whether or not the shots work really depends on how large your herniation is. If its so large that’s its really pinching off your nerve—the shots probably won’t help you. The only way to get a read on that is to get an MRI and see what’s going on in there. Although they didn’t help in my situation, my guess is that insurance wouldn’t cover them if they didn’t have a high enough rate of success.

In my own experience—the pain of the injection procedure was minor compared to the pain of the rupture—so, I don’t think you need to be scared to do it. Make sure you go to a specialist who does them regularly and has state-of-the art equipment.

Try not to over-think things and get yourself all worked-up. Step back and take an objective view. Instead of thinking about it like something to be scared of think about how lucky we are to live in a place that allows us to actually have options for making ourselves well. Countless times during my worst pain (on my knees at 3AM in the morning) I envisioned what it would be like to be laying on a dirt floor in a hut somewhere with flies crawling all over me with no hope of—or options to get relief. I am not trying to be overly dramatic but I assume if you sought out this site you know how bad the pain is. Look on the bright side. You have options.

And if they don’t work—and you end up being in the %10 of people who require surgery—take it in stride. Find a good surgeon and know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Remind yourself of how wonderful it will be to be able to do things again we all take for granted (sitting at the computer, rolling over in bed, driving in the car). I still have a month or so to go before I can go back to work but I will do so with a renewed sense of optimism and excitement about being able to rejoin my life that is “already in progress”.

I hope you find my thoughts helpful and I will check this site on and off for awhile so if anyone has a question—feel free to ask.

Complete Chiro profile image

Complete Chiro 6 years ago from Temecula, CA

I'm a chiropractor, and I've had countless patients over the last several years who have gotten ESI's. Out of all of them, there was only one patient who had great results (completely pain-free within a couple of days of the injection). The majority of patients may get some temporary pain relief (usually 2-6 weeks)and the length of the relief tends to decrease with each successive shot. And then some seem to feel quite a bit worse after injections.

Unfortunately, from what I've personally seen, the odds are not in your favor to have a miraculous recovery after an ESI. But what most MD's generally don't mention are the side effects of these injections (thinning of the skin, easy bruising, weight gain, puffiness of the face, elevation of blood pressure, cataract formation, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), and a rare but serious damage to the bones of the large joints (avascular necrosis)).

Cortisone injections into a joint may have side effects in addition to those described above. Unique side effects of joint injections involve injury to the joint tissues, particularly with repeated injections. These injuries include thinning of the joint cartilage, weakening of the ligaments of the joint, increased inflammation in the joint (arthritis) due to a reaction to a corticosteroid that has crystallized, and introduction of infection into the joint.

I realize that, being a chiropractor, I'm biased towards non-invasive approaches to spinal pain, but all the side effects listed above were pulled from a medical website (medicinenet.com), not from chiropractic ideas.

My advice to anyone considering the injections is to make sure you do lots of research on the "cons" so you can make an educated decision.

HSV Neck Pain 6 years ago

I'm glad I've found this. I am facing the good ol' ESI tomorrow morning. I'm am extremely nervous about it...not just because its going into my spine, but my neck. I use to think I just had a herniated disc at the C3/C4...but looking over the reports I have to carry to the Spine Doc in the morning, I have learned that they're calling it "mild broad-based disc protrusion" & "minimally compressed thecal sac..." but 1 is listed as "mildly compressed" & "broad-based disc protrusion". C3-C6 are the "mild" protrusions but at C6/C7 is the "broad-based protrusion". I have gone through muscle relaxers to help with the pain (sorry to report that nerves are not muscles, so the only thing the Zanaflex did was knock me out 10-15 minutes after taking them) and Lyrica. I'll admit, the Lyrica helped with my Fibromyalgia pain a little, but it didn't do anything for my neck. I have to constantly rest/prop my head against something every hour or so. The pain isn't always extremely intense, but its just constant & nagging. I am hoping that this injection deal will help with the pain with NO side effects...but I am terrified. I've been through Physical Therapy twice, even did aquatic therapy for my fibromyalgia, but talked the therapists into adding in a little stuff for the neck. The doctors will not give me any medication for pain...I have problems taking stuff like Darvocet & Percocet and do to a surgery, I am medically not suppose to take NSAIDs & Ibuprofen. I can't work because who wants to hire someone who cannot go 8 hours without propping their head!?! I have thought about pursuing disability, but I don't feel I am that bad off to be considered disabled...but I've not worked since 2004! I just hope this helps me, if it doesn't then I am going to have to consider disability because I can't afford to live like I am any longer...I've got 3 boys & a household to support. I guess I will know more in the matter of a few hours to a couple of days.

Amity 6 years ago

I had an ESI done on 4-27-10 and the procedure was a breeze. I felt a "small pinch" when they injected the numbing medication and felt nothing after that until the lightening shock that others have talked about. Procedure lasted about 15 minutes, doctor and I talked through the entire process. So, here I am 3 days afterwards and my pain in decreased about 25%. I have a ruptured L5/S1 that I've "dealt" with for quite some time. I no longer have the extreme lower back pain but I do have the charlie horse feeling going from the top of my butt, down my entire thigh. Not much pain in my calf but then my ankle is very achey. I'm hoping that things will improve a little more over time but if it doesn't, I would be completely comfortable having a second ESI. My experience was very pleasant, if any medical procedure can actually be called that. I'm very fond of my doctor and would recommend him to anyone from Missouri.

Linda 6 years ago

I am having an ESI next week, my first. L5 herniation and bone spur and major sciatica pain. My doctor wants to give me versed during it but I hear alot of horror stories about that drug. Do you think I can ask for something else or nothing at all? I'm more concerned about the drug than the procedure itself.

WelloPtgirl 6 years ago

My experience of the spinal block and cortisone injection into the space L4/5 was on Friday last. It's Thursday today, nearly a week, and I still experience pain down my right side, leg, foot however it is way better than before the injection. I'm hoping it will continue to improve. I'm going to start exercising today, ie walking. The procedure was frightening but mainly because nobody explained it to me properly and honestly. If I did this again I would have a Valium injection or similar as I don't feel the need to be there mentally terrified in and out of the cat scan and getting zapped twice by what felt like an electric shock down my leg. The headache immediately afterward was very nasty but the hospital gave me codene tablets and I rested for a few hours....so stay as still as you can after the injection, perhaps. I was told to 'roll over' onto the bed next to the can scan, and my headache hit me and shot down the left side of my neck. I thought I was having a stroke! The dr came out of his room then, and said it was normal as 5% of the injection goes into the brain.

I'm interested in this site - it's amazing the variety of reactions from the same procedure. I'd like to hear from Pauline again, in the UK, to see how she is going. I'm in Australia.

JOE 6 years ago

I've had numerous esi and the most relief I got was amonth ive had about 12 in the last year they say that's alright but I'VE HEARD YOU COULD ONLY HAVE 3 IN 6 MONTHS Im relly worried about all these epidurals any comments?

ihateneedles 6 years ago

so im actually a rhythmic gymnast, and im only 18 so that doesn't help my situation.

I have a larger bulging disc L4/L5

and my orthopedic surgeon prescribed an ESI

I don't know if i should or shouldn't go through with it

It's not like I'll just be able to go home and do normal people things. I have to go to the gym for over 35 hours a week. Its stressful on the body. I feel like having this injection wont actually do any good for me considering that a month later I'll already have to be competing again. and not to mention...competing well as i represent the US! SOOOO what should i do??!??!!?

Steve 6 years ago

My experience with the epidural was not so pleasant. I am a 37 yo male and in good health. Last year, I had a microdiscectomy due to herniated L5-S1. I was great for about four months. In March, I re-herniated the same disc and the leg pain was back. Not wanting to do surgery again, I opted to have an epidural steroid injection to ease the inflammation in the nerve. Yesterday morning I had the injection with the use of x-ray. The initial injection of the needle was not that bad. But, when he had to get close to the nerve, I thought I was going to pass out the pain was so bad. The lidocaine does not work deep down in the tissue where I needed the steroid. From the top of my left buttock down to my toes, I felt like I was cramping. Now, the bright side is that it doesn't last long-just a couple of minutes. Plus, even one day later, my leg pain has eased up enough for me to hold off on pain meds this morning. For my next round in two weeks, I will make sure they give me something to make me more comfortable before the injection. Thank you for this site!

ismael 6 years ago

im about to get my first epidural injection. after being almost 3 years from my accident. im scared and nervous im only 25 years and my baby is only 6 months my wife is positive but im just thinking is this the real way out?

WelloPtgirl 6 years ago

If I were a rhythmic gymnast with back problems like the comment above - ihateneedles, I would consider re-training and give your back a chance to heal. Count your blessings in that you have had a great time and move on to the next challenge. You are obviously good at extreme challenges. Take care of your back.

Steve, I agree - next time I would also ask for something to click me out a little too. I was terrified as they hit my nerves twice, strangely in the wrong leg! It confused me as I thought they had made a mistake.

Ismeal, it's important to try everything before an operation. The injection will take the swelling down and give you some relief...it may even work for you, so you should try. Take our advice and ask for a valium because you feel nervous. I would also ask if it's necessary to go into the xray head-first - I think feet-first might be less stressful. All the very best.

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Wendy Woo 6 years ago

I started having neck problems over 12 years ago, I'm 48 now. Having divorced and bringing up 3 children plus working I simply put it down to stress. I had to travel a lot overseas with work and the pain persisted. I guess I'm the kind of person that just 'puts up with' and I did for years. I started getting pins and needles in my hands and pain in my arm but again just carried on.

I got to a point about 7 years ago that I tried osteopathy but any relief in my neck was short term. years went by and I learned to live with the pain.

Sleep, everyday actions such as turning my head in the car to reverse, bending my arm back to put on a coat etc all hurt.

I recently commuted for a year every other week, dragging a suitcase around and the pain in my arm and shoulder became unbearable... I decided, on a colleagues advice, to have an intense massage. BIG MISTAKE .. I've never been in so much pain in my life. I struggled on for 2 months then finally convinced my doctor I needed something doing about it.

fortunately I am with bupa so demanded an MRI. The result showed a slipped disc either side on C6 but the specialist was not convinced it was the cause of the intense pain I was suffering since the MASSAGE. After an x ray it showed I also had rotator cuff tendinitis in my shoulder. I have had 2 steroid injections so for in my shoulder but may have to have surgery as the relief is short term.

I am also having my first ESI on Thursday next week so thanks for all your posts as I was curious regarding the procedure.

I guess what annoys me the most is that over the years I have suffered, Number 1 - why did I put up with the pain and Number 2 - why did it take so long for anyone to recognise what the problem was!!!

Here's hoping the jab works!


Stephanie D 6 years ago

Thanks for this post. I wish I'd read it before yesterday a.m., though, because it was a perfectly accurate description of my procedure for my L5 s1 disk herniation. It was so easy, I was embarrassed that I'd been nervous about it. You don't even take off your clothes or shoes (you just pull your pants down a little). I have a pretty high pain threshhold, but I felt the sting of the first needle was less than a bee sting. What was odd was the "pulling" feeling of the epidural. It didn't hurt so much as it felt strange, and even then, each insertion (there were 3 or 4 total), if it stings, stings for less than a second, then it's over. I had the option to look at my own Xray the whole time, which I did at the start and then ignored because I started to get queasy. Take deep breaths to calm yourself and keep your oxygen up. I was breathing deeply throughout (even through my belly) and it didn't have any negative effect on what was going on.

After the procedure, my left leg was really numb, and they made me lie down for almost 20 minutes. After that, I felt really fine. I have almost no pain, but I am still aware of my sciatic nerve and muscle cramping. The lidocaine wore off hours ago, and still I feel OK. I am praying that I am one of the lucky ones that this will work for and that it "took." My injury is only 3 weeks old and is sciatica, which all seems to work in my favor.

FYI, I'm 45 and believe I hurt my back lifting weights (although at my age, you can do it picking up a pencil off the floor ;). My next goals are to lose weight, swim more and start regular yoga. I will also try acupuncture if need be. For anyone out there, around my age, remember you're not a kid any more, even if you feel really young. Take good care of yourselves. My best wishes for all of you who are still in pain: don't give up and God bless you.

Debra 6 years ago

I am glad to have found all thses comments. I have been very nervous about having the ESI. I am scheduled next Thursday. My disk in question is in my neck, so it makes me even more nervous.

andy 6 years ago

i have the shots last week..the 1st one and hurts like hell.my back is sore and my legs hurt more helppppppppp

Debra 6 years ago

Andy. Have you called the Dr that performed the procedure? They told me if I had any side effects, like leg pain or weakness, to call them immediatley. Please check with your Doctor. After a week you shouldn;t be experiencing that kind of pain. (My opinion, I am not a doctor). I asked Dr about other side efects as well, he said if the pain is WORSE or migrates from original pain site, to seek help. This does not sound normal to me. Worth a phone call or 2. Sometimes with Dr's we have to be a little "aggressive" as patients. Don't let them brush you off.

I had mine done yesterday, and the worst thing going on with me at the moment is a rocking headache. But I asked an @$$load of questions, and headache for a day or 2 is usuall ynormal and should relieve over the next day or 2.

Jason 6 years ago

I just had my 1st ESI shot this morning to my L5 S1. 20 years in the Army and I am sure jumping out of airplanes is one of many reasons my back hurts.

I felt better when I got home and even got some sleep. 12 hours later and I am feeling a bit achy.

I am glad to come across this post and read some very similar situations.

My next visit is not until 6 to 8 weeks later and in the meantime I have PT (aquatics) starting tomorrow and chiro next week. I also had a procedure called dry needling last week done by my PT.

I am also taking tramadol 3x and mobic 1x daily. My average pain is a 7 with very little sleep at nights.

Dalia 6 years ago

I also have a sciatica herinated disc L5 S1, I just had my third ESI yesterday. The ESi was painful of course not going to lie here but for some reason my back and leg pain has got worse than before. I use to feel pain on my back and leg not passing my knees and now I feel it down my legs. I can't do much than before. In other words I got worse. Why am I feeling worse after the third ESI?

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Nashville G-man 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin Author

wow, I need to check this more often. Thanks for all the great comments everyone. Mr. Chiro, for what it's worth, the chiropractor I saw in Nashville for six years actually favored the ESI to help reduce inflammation, and he said he's seen lots of patients have relief from them, even if temporary. I do need to find a chiropractor here in Madison though, because I'm a firm believer as well...for me, it was a matter of helping to maintain and not let my disc condition get out of hand. But it never really "cured" me.

Anyway, here is an update for those of you interested. I saw a specialist two weeks ago, who, after seeing my new MRI and X-rays, said my pain is coming from two degenerative discs that have significant water loss, some nerve pain and something with my SI joint. Basically that it was not easy to operate on, but that fusion surgery remains the final option, IF their surgeon deems it necessary, and IF I'd rather wait it out another 10 years. Yikes.

So she sent me for an ESI, which I had yesterday, first one in two years. The first three didn't do much and this specialist actually explained why they didn't. But she prescribed one that would get closer to my problem, so we'll see. I jumped off the table and felt like I was 18. But that was the lidocaine and that wore off in a couple hours. Hopefully the steroid will have took and will give me more relief than last time. I am all in favor of getting the round of three injections if I have to. Meanwhile, she also prescribed physical therapy, which I'm going to in a couple weeks, and a medication called gabapentin, which is like an anti-seizure med that is also used for nerve pain. You take them before bed only, because it basically is like a sleeping pill...I'm knocked out within an hour and sleep so hard it's made me snore and sent my wife to the couch a few times. As for whether they are helping, I don't think so. But hopefully after the combination of all these things, I'll see some relief before I see the doc again in September.

She told me if none of this works, the next step is getting a discogram to determine if surgery is a good option. Now that I am terrified of, because she told me there is no anesthesia and they stick needles in to see how bad the pain is. She also said patients have told her it's very painful. Um, that would suck...and if I have to do it, I'm posting something here to see if anyone else has gone through it. Anyway, thanks for reading everyone and keep the comments coming!

Dalia 6 years ago

Who can give me an answer as to why after my third ESI I am worse? Just a little background, I fell at work on a wet floor on 2/05/2010 and ever since I been on PT(which made matters worse, no longer on this), several pain killers meds, anti-imflammatory etc. and three ESI within these months. Any idea as to why?

Jana 6 years ago

I had the ESI a week ago for L4/5 and S1 herniations. I have quite a bit of pain relief. I was terrified of the procedure but it was no problem. Tiny pinch with the lido numbing shot and a little leg pain with the medication being infused through the epidural and a few zinging leg pains after. I would do it again. My doc used the fluroscopy x-rays and was a real pro.

Jeff 6 years ago

I leave in an hour to have this procedure done. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm not as nervous as I was. :-)

Mike Farley 6 years ago

good luck Jeff! Yeah, it's really (for most people) quite painless

Sarah 6 years ago

Wow. Great reading all this. Now I am more confused than ever. I have a paracentral disc herniation at C3-4 and a disc bulge with spinal stenosis at c5-6. The injury occurred a few months ago. TOMORROW I have my first EPI. Needles don't bother me, and the pain of the procedure (if any) won't even compare to the pain I'm in now, so that is not my concern. My headaches are OFF THE CHART! Shoulder and arm pain..range between 5-10. First there was the x-rays and steroids. Then vicodin, percocet and now dilaudid. I've suffered from headaches since puberty, and take between 2 and 4 excedrin DAILY. I know, really bad for my stomach bla bla bla. I am 42 and a single working mom. So here is my question. They told me not to take aspirin for a week before the EPI. I have really tried not to, but like I said, not taking the Excedrin has been very difficult (yes I am aware of rebound headaches). They won't perform the procedure if I answer "yes" to the aspirin question, however I am Desperate for the procedure, and the pain relief it could possibly give me. I need to return back to work ASAP! Any thoughts? I've searched the web, and I can't find anything about Aspirin and EPIs. Obviously, aspirin is a blood thinner, but what exact complications can occur?

NashvilleGMan 6 years ago

hey Sarah...I'd defer to a doctor on this one....but I wouldn't risk that with the aspirin...good luck!

Gary 6 years ago

I had the shot a little over a month ago. Protruding discs L4/5. Started working in about five days. Felt great for about three weeks. Now the pain is coming back. I will call pain dr tomorrow to see if he recommends another shot.

Vinnys 6 years ago

I just had my 3rd lumbar injection Friday and truly believe they are lifesavers. However after the 2nd, I began having charley horses in my calf on the leg that I was not having problems with.( about 3 weeks now) They have become unbearable at times to the point that I can not even walk. The doc says they are not shot related and probably need potassium. Pain meds and relaxers are doing nothing. I started neurontin several weeks before the shots, but stopped after the first shot because I felt as though my whole body went nuts with weird side effects. I'm not sure if it was the shots or the neurontin. Doc said nothing was related to the shots and to start the neurontin again to see. But for the moment, I HAVE to go back to work. Anyone have advice ? I thought they'd go away by now and getting very scared. The doctor is so unconcerned and just told me he'll follow up in 12 weeks! I'm taking requip,clonazapam,loratab, and Xanax! Afraid to add anything else especially having to return to work.( I'll have to stop most before I can work!) If all these don't work, is there something made just for Charley horses? Or will they just go away as the doc says?

greenair 6 years ago

I had ESI 7days ago. I was in bad pain for 4 days after that, called the doc and he prescribed Norco 2x a day. The pain has gone down but i still cannot walk normal or sit normal. I have a burning sensation at the injection site (it is reducing at a snails pace) Haven't been back to work since. The right sciatica pains (which runs down my right leg) when i turn side on bed or try to get up from bed. I try to do PT, mostly stop it in between. Has anyone had pain even after a week of ESI?

Ayralin 6 years ago

Just had my ESI today, 9/2/10. This time it was for Right leg/sciatica pain [radiculopathy]. My last ESI was in 2006 for the same situation on the left leg. I am a nurse. I have had no specific back injury. With most nurses, back problems are a culmination of back abuse and misuse through their career. Such is mine. Being a nurse for over 35 years, bending /pulling/lifting/shoving -it all adds up. Most of the time, these ESI work on a temporary basis -BUT during that time of relief, one should work on the physical therapy part of it. Strengthen surrounding muscles, keep flexible. Try to follow with an actual therapist or go into a properly taught yoga class. I'm not ever going to be totally painfree, but I can maximize my function as best as I can. Good Luck to everyone!

Gary 6 years ago

Second injection two days ago. It is interesting reading all the posts. I didn't feel either one of the injections. I'm sorry to hear about all the patients who have had excruciating pain during the procedure.

My first shot helped a lot, but only for about a month. The second one hasn't kicked in yet, but I'm crossing my fingers.

Gary 6 years ago

Two weeks after my second shot and nothing... no relief. Anyone else experience absolutely no relief after a shot?

shawn 6 years ago

I have just had my third esi .My first shot was painful and felt like he bumped the nerve . After shot it felt the same as before for the first three days .Then had four days of great pain relief . Then over the next couple days it went back to previous pain level. Second and third shots I didn't hardly feel .After about a half an hour after the second shot my pain in my back was worse than ever which lasted about 5 days until it went back to previous pain .Iam having the same increased pain with the third shot on going on three days

Just hoping it ends up with at least some relief. All in all though its worth a shot because some people have better results . Good Luck all P.S MINE WAS FOR L5/S1 DESSICATED DISC BULGING

Kanyon 6 years ago

Had my second Injection today after failed discetomy which only helped more disc to pop out and pinch nerve more than the piece which was removed,My first injection was painful as heck,don't know what they did but when it went in it felt like they hooked up my nerve to an electric circuit pain shot from injection sight all the way to my foot felt as if it was gonna explode,I have broken both my legs one once the other twice,as well as had my hand caught in a saw which caused me to have 3 fingers reattached,But the pain from those was nothing in comparison to my first injection...It was so bad Iscreamed and threatened to beat the attending physican as well as physically harm the staff....And to top it off I only got about 10% relief in pain,However the glutent for pain that I am I went today for my second injection,The first Dr. I found out refused to do my procedure thus I was assigned another,He said I understand you were diffcult last time,Yeah easy for him to say being he wasn't the one with a needle insereted into his spine...He said well were gonna have to give you more medication to make you more comfortable for the procedure this time..Honestly what ever he did It was amazing I had zero pain during the procedure,it was great,now if only this 2nd injection provides relief that would be the best.I just want to know by me having the injections if they provide relief how long can i expect it? if having temp relief is there a chance that it will just allow me to injure my spine more if I return to normal lifestyle,As I am a General Contractor whom auctually works as I love what I do....I build homes from the ground up as well as lots of residental remodeling....Is this injection just like putting a bandage on the real problem as i understand from my first mri the radioligist reccomended in his report spinal fusion...Currently I am 42 yrs old I am just curious if lets say I put off the fusion for say 10 yrs if possible by having injections now i will be in my 50's is it wiser to have the fusion at my current age which people have said would allow me to heal quicker as oppossed to undergoing a fusion at 50 and whose to say my spine will be same condition as it is now?I asked the Dr. today that question hias response was yes it is like a bandage I was shocked to hear him admit that ,but he said well if you have the fusion now it only means you will break your fusion sooner,I don't know i got mixed emotions from his answer,Being if I have fusion he makes no money however if I keep coming back for injections it assures him job security as this clinic is the only one in our area which performs these procedures...Any advice would be helpful thxs....oh yeah plaesa no advice about my writing or grammer,lol.

spig 6 years ago

Tommorow is my first shot.I'M PUTTING IT IN GODS HANDS.





Mike Farley 6 years ago

hey spig....good luck, it's really not too bad at all...but they do have to space them out a few months. Where I live now in Wisconsin, they tell me I can only get 3 injections per year. Some places it's 3 per 6 months. But you do have to space them out.

Kanyon 6 years ago

Ok had my second injection yesterday,it went smooth as can be did not even know they were doing it.Was amazed when they said ok your done....however last night I had a headache from hell,sweats ,vomiting violently,Seen my Spinal sugeron today he said it was most likely reaction to injection..He also said he did not see enough improvement from first injection to warrant second injection,Had he known he said he would have advised against having it..So he says no more injections as what really needs to happen is fusion.....He said all he ordered injections for were to bring down inflamation and there is no way he would recommend injections to put off the inevitable.the fusion...He was honest and asked that I get a second opinion prior to fusion sugery...Amazed a Doctor whom would honestly recommend a second opinion..So we go next week..for all of you getting injections ,best of luck just because my case was different just be positive...

best wishes.

Shksprk8 6 years ago

Wow. Amazing stories and a great resource. Thank you NashvilleGman for starting this up!

I slipped a disc while I was 6 months pregnant, however my OBGYN said that all my sciatic pain was due to the baby's position and once I gave birth everything would revert back to normal. Not so much, so the next 3 months I went to PT for post-partum rehabilitation, where my PT kept saying Gee I really don't think it's a slipped disc. I dealt with shooting pain down my left leg all the way to the bottom of the foot, and a newborn infant (who thank god, is a great sleeper and a really good baby- I'm really lucky). After about 3 months of that I finally saw a Neurosurgeon who gave me an MRI and said I had a huge herniated disc at L5S1 and to go get surgery. As I'm only 33 and plan on having a bunch more kids, I wasn't sure this was the best option. So I went to see a different Physical Therapist who said the sciatic pain wasn't from the disc but from my Sacroiliac joints being rotated in the wrong way (one goes forwards, one goes back). After a few weeks with him and pulling a muscle in my butt, I moved on. I was seeing a great sports massage therapist (giving me some pain relief and releasing the muscles in my leg that were cramping up around the nerve and helping the rest of my back which was compensating for all the wierdo positions I had to put myself into to not be in pain- I would highly recommend deep tissue massage to all in addition to their pain management systems...) and a PT, but most of the time I was on the floor with the baby all day, and standing for more than 3-4 minutes was excruciatingly painful. Finally, I dragged myself into an Orthopedic Surgeon here in London who immediately suggested the ESI and chided me for not coming to see him sooner. I know I know, in retrospect I really should have not tried to deal with the pain so long. So I had the ESI a few days ago- I wouldn't say it was pain free, but it hurt putting the needles in as I think all the muscles and nerves in my back are in hypersensitive mode. I did have an epidural for when the baby was born, and honestly that was not painful at all (did get that electric tingling sensation)as the anesthesiologist was in and out in a few min. My Dr had to push the needle in, wait for me to say the pain was subsiding, then push in a little more, then wait... the whole process took about 20 min and I said on the table that I'd rather give birth again. Two days later and so far so good, I can now stand for almost 10 minutes, and while the pain isn't really gone (my movement is still very limited), I'm hoping that this will get me on my feet. The baby is starting to crawl and I was worried that she was starting to get faster than me!

What I'm concerned about is that this will wear off and the disc, which is quite a large herniation, won't have time to heal- and then if I have to opt for the microdisectomy, what does that mean for my spine supporting another 1, 2, or 3 pregnancies? Any other women out there who have had this issue and gone on to have more children (who are still walking!?). Thanks.

krisinmn 6 years ago

Wow! I'm so happy I found this. I am 19 hours post ESI #5 or 6 and dealing with serious insomnia. I gotta say when I started getting my ESI's back in 05, the thought of dealing with needles scared me. I have pars defect in my L5-S1 area and a bone spur/herniated disc in my C6-C7 area. While reading all of your posts, it really reaffirms my belief that the success of the ESI's must have a lot to do with the doctor performing them. My first ESI was done by a doctor at Center For Diagnostic Imaging (CDI - not sure if that's a regional of national affiliation). I must say this doctor totally put my mind at ease about ESI's. I went through the typical post ESI symptoms they warn people about and within a week I felt better than I had in years. Later that week I had an ESI performed for L5-S1 in the local hospital radiology dept. I started feeling the typical feeling of pressure or whatever you want to call it. Right before I felt that, the doctor performing ESI said "shoot" under his breath. As it turned out he punctured my intrathecal gel so he stopped. By the time I got home I was on the road to a horrendous spinal headache that lasted for a week. I swore I would never get another ESI in my low back. From that point on I swore I would never go to any other doctor for an epidural. Since then, I have had 4 more C6-C7 epidurals and I finally broke down and got two more lumber ESI's Within a couple weeks (at CDI of course). The first one was performed by a different doc than I normally had and the second by the doctor I always have (second one within couple weeks).

Approximately 6 months after last C6-C7 ESI, I broke the crap out of my wrist snowboarding - the ortho doc used 12 pins and a 4 in plate to piece it back together. I swear I must have done damage to my neck (jarring my neck) cuz since then the pain in my neck changed. I dealt with the pain for nine mos before finally getting my epidural yesterday. There is definitely soe kind of communication breakdown

krisinmn 6 years ago

As I was saying, I wonder about communication breakdowns in the different clinics. I go through my family doctor to get ESI's ordered. I called for on in January after I broke my wrist, and never got any response. I dealt with the neck pain and finally called and made sure it got done. I got to the point where I was dealing with the worst pain (as bad or worse than breaking my wrist).

I just don't really know what lies ahead. I feel I have been really fortunate to have so much luck with my ESI's with the right doctor. I have heard that there may cone a time they won't work anymore. Has anyone else heard that? I have talked to neurosurgeon in 05 and I'm looking at disc fusion in lumber spine and neck. I have another appointment with neurosurgeon coming up and am kind of curious about what he will say this time. Is it possible that perhaps we slip through the cracks as our treatment becomes so routine? I was curious how many MRI's others have had with ongoing neck/back issues. I don't want to go through surgery if I don't have to, but the pain sure gets old.

Tiburon, CA 6 years ago

Just had my second set in the past two weeks about 18 hours ago. Now 4 in the morong typing on bed on the I phone.

The first set provided some initial relief and the it was back to agonizing sciatica o. The right leg down in the hip thigh knee shin and across the foot.

I did the second set with a different doctor a d he put it in a slight different spot as he interpreted the MRI a bit differently.

I had two sets of shots 20 years ago and the first provides no relief and the second one provided 100 percent relief. This time with the sciatica may be a bit different.

I fly anywhere from 5 to 10 thousand miles a month on work and am or was very athletic. This episode started after a 40 mile bike ride at a conference in Pebble Beach on an I'll fitting rental bike so I should have known better. And my new mid life crisis sports car seats haven't helped

The epidural can range from nothing to painful however it is short and well well worth it if you can be provided relief. I would highly recommend them as a step because it could be the 20 year fix like it was for me the first time. I have a feeling that I may have to resort to surgery on this one given the sciatica and weak right leg on which I can hardly put any weight on.

Also my job is flying around the country and Europe and I have to get it fixed asap and can't lay around for 6 months hoping it gets better. And given a life of plane seats, car rental seats, taxis and hotel beds I need to have a problem free back or I am in serious trouble.

The pain and the stress of not being able to participate in work family or social events is very frustrating although I just want to do normal activites again and will be grateful just for that.

I will keep you posted but definitely recommmend the shots and different physicians. Some one may have the golden ticket for your pain.

Mike Farley 6 years ago

wow, interesting comments everyone. For the record, I had another one this past Thursday. It was the most painful one I have had so far, but two days later, I think I'm starting to feel more relief than I have with these, and this is the fifth one I have had in total. I think I have sciatica too which does not help, but PT seems to be easing that a bit too. Whatever works to postpone surgery for now I guess. Will keep you all posted, thanks again!

inpaininTx profile image

inpaininTx 6 years ago from North Central Texas

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes,not from pain,but from finally finding out that i'm not crazy afterall.

I'm a 45 yr old,active mom who thought I was in good shape until a couple of months ago. I was stretching to lay out my daughters quilt,when I was hit by a stabbing pain in my low back. I hit the ground,fracturing my foot in the process.

I have a bulge in L-4,L-5 and an annular tear in S-1. The sciatica ran down both legs and was mind numbing pain. I have a high pain tolerance,dealing with both kidney stones and giving birth several times with no pain medications,but this pain about did me in.

I had my first ESI injections a week ago and didn't find the actual process all that bad. I did have a headache that afternoon and evening and some localized pain around the area where the needles went in. I used my ice packs and pain meds,but still couldn't get comfortable. The next day,I felt much better and actually swept my floors and did a couple of loads of laundry. I was on cloud 9,I could move again.....then day 3...Woke up sore,tender,headache,just miserable feeling and was once again,down for the count. The flushing was making it impossible to sleep and I knew this couldn't be a sudden onset of what plagues most women my age,hot flashes.

The excruciating pain isn't there,but there is more a burning,achey feeling on the right side and more pain on the left side,making the left buttocks area (piriformis) feel like I have a golf ball there. I thought I was going crazy..maybe I was so used to the pain,I was still feeling it,even though it should be gone,then I found this site.I did try to go to church this morning and found out that sitting up for that long is nearly impossible. What is heartbreaking to me,is that my Husband is traveling alone to his Fathers funeral,because I couldn't make a long journey with this much pain.

Its been a God send,knowing i'm not alone. I see my Dr again tomorrow,for a post procedure check up and am almost afraid of what he's going to tell me. Yes,i'll try a second set,if he thinks it will help.But,after that,where do I go ?

bethmiller311 6 years ago

Has anyone developed any side effects from the epidural steroid injections? I have had all three shots and I just had my last one on 10/4/10 and since then i have developed supposedly temporary cushings syndrome which I wasn't even aware was a potential side effect. What cushings syndrome is (when its temporary or brought on by an outside hormone or steroid) its the swelling of the face and stomach areas along with purple marks on the skin. Some people have cushings syndrome due to an imbalance in their endocrine system. The cushings syndrome I have is a result of the steroid injections. Before I go on I would like to say that the injections have helped my back pain a lot. I have two bulging discs in my back and have had chronic back pain for over a year now. Maybe I'm just being superficial but I am a 23 year old girl and not to be vain but I loved the way I looked... up until a few weeks ago. My face, neck, and stomach have swelled up! I am (was) a small girl but my face and neck now look like they belong on the 200 pound version of me! I just want to look like me again! I loved the way i used to look and now i feel like a different person. I also have the "mark" of cushings syndrome- the bluish, purple lines on my thigh (which started to appear the day after my last injection). At least i can cover that up with pants. My face is sooo puffy! I am happy that my back pain is somewhat better but I want my face back- I used to be so confident and now I don't even want to leave my apartment. I am still a college student and I haven't been to any cl asses lately because I don't even want to look at myself in the mirror. Also I have gain like 20 pounds since I started getting the shots- which is weird since I've been able to move around more since my back has been feeling better. Even with the extra weight, I'm still a skinny girl but I am the heaviest I've ever been in my life. I know all of this is because of the cushings syndrome but I want to know if my face and body are going to go back to normal after the steroids leave my body. I've been told that the cushings syndrome is temporary but how long till I look like me again!? How long till the steroids leave my body? Has anyone else had this side effect or anything like it?

EVBM 6 years ago

I am so happy to find this site and find other people who can identify with what I go through on a daily basis. It is so hard to explain to people who have never experienced back pain. I am 25 years old with a bulging disc and left lateral annular tear between L4 and L5 as well as degenerative disc disease. My bulging disc also affects my sciatic nerve on my left side. I have been suffering for almost 3 years now with debilitating pain. I have gotten 2 ESI’s so far and will be getting my 3rd in about 3 hours. My first injection was on 7/13/2010 and was extremely painful, I passed out during the procedure and they had to stop and give me a second injection of lidocaine which got me through the rest of the procedure. My flare up after my injection lasted about 5 days and then the day that the steroid kicked in I got extremely shaky but by the next day that had passed and I had about 40% relief. I had to push my second injection back due to breaking my ankle and not being able to get up on the procedure table. My 2nd injection was 9/20/2010 and didn’t hurt at all. However, the flare up that I experienced afterword was completely different than the first one. Not only did my low back flare up but my left sciatic flared up too. I had horrible pain radiating down my left leg the whole way into my toes, nothing I did made it go away. I couldn’t sleep at all until the steroid kicked in (which I can tell when it does because I get extremely shaky that day). After that I had more reduction in pain. I still have good days and bad days but overall I am feeling a reduction in pain so I am hoping that this 3rd one does the trick and I am all but pain free afterwords. So far this is the only thing that has helped my pain level other than medications (but I hate the feeling of being “drugged up” everyday). I have tried PT, trigger point injections, medications, etc., etc. but with little to no relief. I still take Methcarbamol and vicodin on my bad days or when I experience bad flare ups. I take Advil almost everyday as well as Nortriptyline which is an antidepressant that is use to help with chronic pain (but it also helps with the depression of dealing with chronic pain). Even though I have already had 2 injections I am still nervous with the anticipation of getting my 3rd today because as I have already found out each one is a little different (at least that is the way it is with me). I wish everyone who deals with this everyday the best of luck on getting relief from the pain that you suffer from. I have learned through all of this that you just have to take life day by day and that it could be worse.

beedub 6 years ago

I found this blog because I had the injections six days ago and just experienced relief today, but was searching to see if this was normal. I have bulging disc at L4/L5 for the last two yrs after breaking my foot and throwing my body off balance by limping, apparently. It got progressively worse over that period of time. I was on daily Lortab 10/500 plus NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen, but being type II diabetic (51 yo female), had to be careful w/the NSAIDs. Little relief w/pain meds, pain would wake me up out of deep sleep - especially when trying to sleep on either side. Hip and leg pain, some shoulder & neck pain. Went in for the steroid injection w/epidural with much fear of the process, but had to do something. I foolishly overdid two days in a row following the procedure, after feeling A LITTLE relief and boy did I regret it! The 3rd day was AWFUL! It was worse than pre-procedure. The 4th and 5th were equally bad, if not worse, especially at night on the side that was actually my "better" side. Then, like someone turned on a lightswitch this morning, great relief! I even forgot to take a dose of pain med. I don't want to be overly optimistic, but it finally feels worth it. I am scheduled for a second shot in 3 wks and look forward to it. Just hoping things continue to get better.

lagarta 6 years ago

Hi, I've been reading all the posts. I just had my first injection yesterday, so it's been helpful reading everyone's experiences. I'm surprised to hear that so many people have repeat injections, though. Many articles I've read seem to suggest that repeated cort injections can cause longterm bone loss. After one day, my pain seems bascially unchanged, but I see that a lot of people don't find relief until about a week has gone by. I have 4 bulging disks in my lumbar spine and a bit of arthritis and stenosis. For someone who loves exercise so much, it's been hell to be in too much pain to move (much less to sit at work; i'm currently home from work). I'm so anxious to get back to my swimming, but my instinct is telling me not to even try, as long as I still have this kind of pain.

I hope I can look forward to some pain relief, so that I can at least do the prescribed rehab exercises to try and work on my abs & back muscles. I'm not convinced that masking pain with injections is correctly addressing the problem, but when I see the faces of other patients in this doc's waiting room, all contorted in the same kind of pain that I have, I feel like we'd all do ANYTHING to be rid of pain, because life is not worth living like this!

france 6 years ago

hello... I have found the comments very interesting and informative. I also have a L4-5 problem. I had a terrible experience with my second epidural (which was put into my SI joint, whereas the first did nothing at all, the second one made my nerve come alive and finally after about a month and a half, I am back to being relieved by pain killers. I still can't walk for stand for very long, which I could previously to the epidural. Am now trying chiro and pool therapy!

Chistieb 6 years ago

Hello-I am a 52 year old physically active female. I recently found out I have an congentitally straight spine-no normal cervical or lumbar curve, autofusion at L5-S1, spinal stenosis, spondolytis (sp) degerative disc disease, and a 25% scoliosis curve at L2. There is no cervical involvement at this point. Back problems off and on most of adult life.

October 30, reaching for a razor in the shower, i felt that warning twinge you get when your back is going out. Within 2 days i had incredible pain like never before. Went to the orthopedic clinic and received immediate xrays, mri and the diagnosis above.I had one brief period of urinary incontinence and a more or less gravity method of urinitaion that lasted 2 days. This has sense resolved itself back to normal.It was a whole week before my bowels moved, but that could have been the painkillers. I am on 900 mg of neuronton and hydrocodone for pain. My ortho wants to do a posterior fusion (there are no discs left)at L4-5, L3-4 with bone graft and hardware to straighten the scoliosis, using my own facet joint material for the graft. The vertebra are all out of wack, going every which way. Of concern is the potential of permanent loss of nerve with bladder and bowel. Apparently if this happens, it is irreversble and he does not want this to happen to me. He explained everything completely and competently and i was very sure, never questioning his decision at all. I had a second opinion with a neurosurgeon already scheduled.

Wed 11/10 I went for the second opionion from a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon wants me to get epidural injections and physical therapy, come back in 6 weeks. Now granted, he was not seeing me at my worst, since this was 10 days later. I have been reading about pt and it includes pilates, biking, swimming and walking. For a lot of my life and specifically the past two years, i have been a 2/3 time a week girl at the gym doing all of the things listed as pt. I am 5'3", i used to be 5'4 and weight about 144. The neurosurgeon says that injections and pt might put off the surgery for 6 months, 1 year, 2 years. Everyone i have talked to who has had injections and then surgery wishes they had gone straight to the surgery as the injections did not do them much if any good. I feel that if i have to live gingerly for a year, waiting for the next reach for the razor, doing the same exercises i have already been doing only to postpone the inevitable, why not just do the surgery and get it overwith? I am fairly young, good overall health, good insurance (who know what the status of these things will be a year from now?). My first doctor is meeting with me again today and i have a list of questions. I would like comments, suggestions etc from this group. What do you think? Did the injections just prolong the final decision? Were they a waste of time? Are you still taking pain medication day and and day out? Thanks, Christie

Shunae 6 years ago

Hi i just had my ESI done yesterday i am 22 years old and never been in a traumatic accident but have 4 disc bulging contacting my spinal cord in my neck and also 1 disc at L4-5 slightly contacting my spinal cord in my lower back. The whole process was 10:30-1:45 including a small amount of waiting. They numbed me the first hour and then when the procedure was taking place they sedated me fully and I felt no pain during the procedure. so i figured everything went well. I told my family i felt a little better in my lower back (little did i know it was still the medicine) at about 7PM that night I starting feeling a little pressure and decided i needed to lay down so i did.. and at about 2:45AM i wake up with excruciating pain and burning up my spinal and the back of my calf muscle. I was scared to get up then when i tried to because i need to use the RR it felt like my couldnt put any weight on my lower half. Ughh.. I could sit down while sitting up straight and i cant not even up straight right now. anyway when i went to lay back down my heart starts racing like i just went for a sprint or something. is this what the day after is supposed to fill like because i need to go to work and i dont think i can manage the pain once im there or even going there. HELP.. i dont think this ESI worked for me and i still have to go back for the ESI for my neck and a few weeks.

catfishjr241 profile image

catfishjr241 6 years ago from usa

ty so much for this post i am haveing this done in 3 days and i am 41 and still afraid of needles. i found out why i was haveing extream pain when i stoodup ,trying to sit,and putting on articals of cothing like pants and underwear shoes and sox thease things i could not due without screaming in pain they found on the MRI a bulging disk and a extrem herniated disk i hope this helps me due to the doctor realy wanted to do surgery on the heriated disk and i asked for this first do you think i did the right thing and not haveing surgery first.

but this post has calmed me some ty very much

Dover Lady 6 years ago

its started about 6months ago due to an accident someone drove right into me with out stopping when i was at a come pleat stop and I've had my first ESI about a monthago and well as many here I'm still in pain and just as worst as if i had the accident all over again..Sorry not much to type hopefully ill get something to help me type better and more laying down..Very painfull at this moment..Take Care All.:)try to return back here..

jfehil 6 years ago

I have had two injections over the last two months and I still don't feel any better.the doctor seems like he is getting sick of me and has sent me back to work despite the fact that I told him I can't do it and that pt don't help. yesterday was my first day back and after three hours of work all my pain came back but now I feel pain in other places in my back including my spine being on fire has this happend to anyone else?

Cat in CT 6 years ago

I am 44 yrs old. I was in a car accident over 13 years ago. I am guessing most of my back problems are from that plus lifting way more than I should. Diagnosed with L3-L4 broad annular bulge, L4-L5 Mild annular bulge and tear plus facet anthropathy in L5-S1. Had first ESI on 12/7. I had pain like no body's business laying flat on stomach (wishing I had taken pain med prior) Docs comments were "you can take your meds, I said they are at home". He continued the procedure. I felt the pinches he said, and then getting off the table and being wheeled into recovery in wheel chair, it hurt like a sob. Yes, I sobbed like a baby. The pain went down. I know can walk without a limp, but have pain at the injection site. Minor pain in the right leg and buttocks. I would say a 35% improvement, then again there are some flare ups. I am finding that I can't sit for more than an hour, even at 20 minutes it aches. I know the steroids don't take full effect for another day or maybe longer. Is what I am experiencing, what some of you reading and have posted normal? I go for follow up in another week and a half and will see a surgeon to see if he recommends a disc replacement vs. fusion as a friend recently had problems with the same two discs and had a replacement with that doctor. Let me know your thoughts.

Pain Machine UK 5 years ago

I had a few steroids injections on Monday. I was told I would have a few seconds pain. Well that was the fattest lie I have heard since being in the school playground. I felt the first needle and thought ok this is good minimal pain this must be the anisthetic. Maybe my tolerance to anisthetic is high because the next 10 mins sent me back to the original pain, the needle was playing piano on my nerve endings and it was a rough ride, if it had not been for me being tall and able to hold on to the end of the xray table I think I would have hit the roof. The anisthetic woman even had the gall to say stay still it's making it harder, well excuse me maybe she would have like to change positions! I'm not sure what went on there but after he said we were half way i was severly deflated dreading stage 2 which was another bulge on another disc. However the pain never happened it was a small pain like a dentist injection for the second disc and took minutes to do. Phew!

Well it's been a few days now and the pain for the first few days was more from bruising i think. Today (friday) i feel pretty good hardly any pain but after a few hours sitting at a desk it starts to get painful but more of an ache than nerve pain which you all know how painful and debilitating that is.

My advice is this, get as much info from the surgeon as possible pre injection. I really had no idea, i turned up to the hospital thinking i was literally having an injection in the spine and would be sorted in a few mins. During the procedure i had no idea of how long it was going to go on, the surgeon said nothing as he was doing it so it was difficult to know when the pain would stop. If he said it would be another minute and then a rest or something for me to gauge how long i would have to tolerate the pain it would have been better.

Everyone is different and i had two different experiences in the one session, one good and one seriously bad. I'd do it again if the pain comes back but want some extra anisthetic as I couldn't go through that pain again and my blood pressure went to 188/90 which is off the scale and hyper tensive so not good for the heart even if i am only 38.

Good luck to everyone else hope it works out for you, and if not the first time always remember these are people out there who feel your pain and are thinking about you.

SA in Pain 5 years ago

Progressing through the guesswork of where my neck is originating after a work injury 15 months ago, I had joint facet injections (C2-3, C3-4, C4-5) 3 weeks ago with no relief of my neck pain, and which was the worst pain I've ever experienced (and I thought 2 kidney stones were bad, but I'd gladly have another one to never have to endure that pain again). I'm considering stating that there was not any local anesthetic used since I felt absolutely no pain relief (and the local's characteristic "burn" of being injected) to the needle being inserted and moved around in my neck to get to the site of the next injection.

I am now scheduled to have an epidural into my C6-C7 bulging disc this morning, which I am a bit apprehensive about as a result of the above mentioned painful experience with the facet injections.

Reading the posts on here with mixed pain/no pain experiences from people hasn't decreased that apprehension whatsoever. I guess I'll see in 7 hours how this procedure goes...

SA in Pain 5 years ago

Well... Epidural completed and thankfully not as painful as the previous facet injections. I was informed that the steroid's effect won't take effect until late Sunday/early Monday but from what I'm feeling like this morning, I am anticipating a good result. *crosses fingers*

After the epidural, I had a lot of pulling/tightness sensation going up my neck and felt a headache starting at the base of my skull on the right side. Pulling/tightness sensation also extended into my right shoulder and down my spine to roughly between my shoulder blades.

Today, my neck pain feels a bit less when I put my head down and raise it back up. And I'm able to raise my head back up without holding it to do so. *thumbs up* If the muscle tightness/pulling goes away, I will say that the epidural injection was a success and hopefully the doctor and I can proceed from there with a successful permanent resolution to my situation.

sunnynight 5 years ago

I am really glad I found this page. I have not been in pain for years like some I have read about here. About 10 years ago my back went out...Went to the Dr. tried pain meds and everything and finally did MRI..said I had 2 herniated discs and degenerative disc disease, but wanted me to go to a pain management clinic. After a few weeks, I was 100% better...Fast forward 10 years...The day after Christmas of 2010 my back was a little achy....I really didn't think anything about it. Sat down in a chair and had to call my husband to help me up...It went out that fast. Couldn't move...went to Dr. 2 days after and he gave me a cortisone shot in my butt...said i would feel like a queen in a few days and to not overdo it. Ordered me off work for a week and gave me painkillers. After being off that week with no sign of improvement I went back to him...Ordered MRI..Now, I am keeping the earlier diagnosis of DDD a secret for fear of the dreaded pre-existing illness. Let me explain the pain....It is in my lower back, and shoots down my right leg...Constant...relentless, stays at about an 8 on painscale of 1-10. Let me add here as well, I have an extremely HIGH pain tolerance. If something starts bothering me I will "work through" the pain. Anytime up until now, when I finally would go to the Dr. because it was unbearable I would be admitted in the hospital immediately because I always wait too long to have something seen about.. Now to continue...My Dr. scheduled an MRI...got results back and they were almost inconclusive. They do see that I have 2 dry discs, and a small bulge....But they are not seeing the nerve being inpinged. But all my symptoms point to a pinched nerve. I am very lucky in one regard...My regular Dr. didn't waste any time at all...He referred me to a Neurosurgeon. Quick timeline...back went out on 12/26/2010. MRI 1-9-11. Neurosurgeon Appt 1 1-31-11. Neuro looks at my scans and said the same thing my dr said...Not seeing pinched nerve...Not really seeing anything that would cause this type of pain. Orders for PT. start going to physical therapy...really...it was like going to a chiropractor. The first 2 times was ok...The 3rd time...Not so much...He started working on the lower back and I came up off of the table...Not sure what he hit...but it was bad, and then he got concerned...Told me he really didn't want to cause more pain. Because he thinks the pain is from inflammation that is touching that nerve. The next day...I noticed as I was laying in bed..the pain in my right leg was horrible..but only when I had it elevated...I could hang it over the bed, and it would ease quite a bit.

sunnynight75116 5 years ago

continuation from above... sorry.

thought this was just something new...at this point...I am on hydrocodone 10/325, flexeril, ibuprofen, and very recently Gabapentin...which has actually helped quite a bit with the leg pain...til now. I kind of don't worry about the increased leg pain..But my wonderful husband tells me to call the Neurosurgeon. I call him the next day and leave a message with his receptionist. She asked if I wanted to come in and I said no, if he didn't think it was a big deal, I would just tell my PTist. She said ok. She called me back like 20 minutes later and said the Heuro wants to see me ASAP, she had a cancellation the next day...could I make it? I said yes..and managed to get myself worked up...thinking...I've done it again...Saw him last Tuesday...and all he did was ask if the PT was helping I said no and told him about the pain..He sat down across from me and said...What do you want to do? I just sat there looking at him...He said...You are going to need surgery...but probably not for some years...So it is up to you how invasive you want to be...He suggested the ECI injections on the first visit, I chose PT...PT is just hurting me more...So I agreed to the injection. He said It may work, it may not...This is usually the step he takes before surgery. He tells me that if the first one doesn't work, he MIGHT try a second, but we would have to see. I had the injection yesterday....NEVER again...I was really hoping for sedation of some type...But there was none. The Dr. and Nurses were wonderful...don't get me wrong there. But the lidocaine was a joke.. I felt it all...Got over that pretty quick. Got off the table and left. About 30 minutes after...I was laying in my car in tears...It felt like from about halfway down my back to my feet was one big huge relentless cramp. I live about 90 minutes from where I had procedure done...The ride home was excruciating...Got home and took a hot shower doped up real good and went to sleep. Today...The old pain is still there along with new pain..But just on my right side...Oh and bad stomach cramps on right side as well...I have a follow up with neuro a week from today...If no remarkable change...I am scheduling surgery...This pain has seriously affected my quality of life. Oh, I forgot to add...I am only 34...Was diagnosed the first time at 24. I will post what Neuro says next week. Or sooner if pain diminishes. I have several friends that have these injections done and they swear by them...So it is true...everyone is different. For those of you that have suffered for years, I am so so sorry. A good GP is the key, he really cared about me and hated seeing me in pain. He refills my scrips for me no questions asked, and set me up with my neuro.

Rich V 5 years ago

G Man

Thanks so much for putting up this page. It is very informative and helped me make my decision to get an ESI. I have a few friends that are chirps and a friend that is a neurologist and I was being told to get spinal decompression by the chirps and ESI by friends and my doctor.

Got the ESI this past Tuesday and within a day it felt much better. I am able to stand straight up and able to work again but yesterday I started having headaches and I was told I would be getting them by my doctor.

Did you have any? I guess they are called head fevers and are normal because I have never got a shot in the back. I was told that they will go away in a few days but they are brutal unless I lay down. I have the bet wife in the world that has been so good to me because she does everything for me while taking care of our five month old. This is my second disc bulge in the past five months and I have a feeling it happened thisntime because I didn't rehab it properly after the first injury.

How are you doing these days?

I wa

sunnynight75116 5 years ago

Just an update. I am actually getting some relief from the injections...I spoke with another lady I work with that has the same injections at the same place I do, but she did not experience the pain I experienced. I will talk to the neuro next Thursday and see if that's normal. I said I would not go through the injections again. But the relief I am getting is wonderful. I think I am going to ask him if they will knock me out, or call me in a valium.

katro 5 years ago

I am so happy to find this site, to get real feed back from people dealing with real back issues. I have disc herniation from L3 to S1 causing severe stenosis. After reading the comments, I have decided not to get ESI. It doesn't sound like it's worth the pain or money. However, I have not spoke to a doctor other than pain mgmt(the same dr. who charged 880.00 for a ua), who was ready to schedule me for ESI after I got the MRI results. I guess my next step is to speak with a neurosurgeon to get another opinion.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your stories, and how much they have helped me. I will be back with the outcome, whether it's surgery, ESI, or the Prolotherapy/Decompression path.

boricua488 5 years ago

i have c3 and c4 herniated and pinching the nerves and l3 and l4 with the same condition, my orthopedic doctor recommended this epidural injections and as a result i now have diabetis, developed hight blood pressure and my trigliserides were well above 1100...would not reccomend this injections to anyone

bobcat337x 5 years ago

I have had chiro treatment for years and has keep me going. In jan.2011 I finally had enough pain and called Ortho Nero in cloumbus,They have taken care of me for 30 yrs started with injury to right arm. They fixed and has been great since.1986 right knee tear has been fine since surgery,Dec 2000 found out 2 disc missing in c3-5 and had fusion, Feb 2009 left knee gutted still going well.June 2010 motorcycle wreck t1 chip ok on it's own.

Now the fun begins again S1 herniated disk with disk partially missing.Chiroprator has keep pain and numdness undercontrol for 3 years.Then lower back pain and leg pain and numbness come back. PT no improvement. MRI showes problem. Doc says I will need surgery and I asked to try EPI first. She said she would try for me first shot 3/15/11 numbed back injection fine done in 5 mins.Pain gone with numbing medicine came back 5 hours later.Had pain at injection point for 1 day. Then no pain for 4 days was Great walked better. Had to wait 14 days so I had EPI 4/1/11 pain as before and other problem I have is I can't sleep after EPI that night so I did it on friday and I can rest all weekend. Hoping for longer pain free this time. I think it is worth trying before microdisectomy. Hope this helps. I spent a lot of time reserching on internet.

natalie 5 years ago

Hi today was the first day of the esi shot. I was diagnoised with degenerate disc disease. Fissured tear, l-5 and l-4. The procedure was easy with the help of zanex and lyrica. I don't feel the relief from the shot yet but I'll write more later.

karen 5 years ago

i dont no why the hell some of us get these surgerys we are told we need to get out of pain, and i had 3 cervical fusions and iam in worst shape then before!! then i needback surgery and thats worse then before!! and omg if you try to ask the doc anything hes walking out the door no one cares!! at least all you people on here do, its awful to live in 24-7 pain isnt it? some docs need to act alittle more caring i think, ,,,

DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuit 5 years ago

Would epidural steroid shots work for the pain I am experiencing on my hips? I have had a hip implant in the past and recently it has become awfully painful.

I'm a bit anxious now after learning of some reports that a number of people have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacements, claiming that the device is defective.

inpain13 5 years ago

someone mentioned here years ago -sciatica. That's a special kind of hell. So True. I had L4-5 surgery in 2001. My surgeon now says 'my warranty ran out'. He thought that was funny while I was almost in tears from pain! Did a Revision L-45 surgery in March/11. Searing electrical pain down my left leg is gone, but my 'foot drop' remains along with constant calf and foot cramps, numbness at toes and ball of foot and searing burning on top of my foot! Surgeon says there's still scar tissue on my spine at L4-5. I'm on Lyrica and Naproxen. Went for first ESI 4 days ago by an anesthesiologist. Didnt find it too painful, just felt pressure when he inserted the steroid (he froze the area well). Original pain intensified over the next 48 hours to the point of truly wanting to cut off my foot! But the next 2 mornings woke up feeling 10% better each day. Hopefully will have enough relief to go to PT. Next shot in 2 weeks. Will report back. This site is amazing and knowing there are others in my boat really helps with me psychologically. Wish me luck!

scott 5 years ago

Just had my 3rd injection for my collapesed l3. Feeling better but cant sleep. Same sympton after every injection!!!! It takes me 3-4 days to get back on track sleepwise.. It really sucks

Lauren R. 5 years ago

I have a herniated disc at L5 S1, but my doctor didn't want me getting surgery because I'm only 21 and he is afraid if we do it too early, I will need a fusion in the future. So, I got two ESI's in my lower back in early March. The procedure was fast & simple & all I felt was light pressure. But then I was so sore for almost a week and they wanted me to get my next two in just three weeks time. So, I cancelled my next round thinking that is two weeks off of pain worth the cost & week of soreness of the injections? So, I waited until yesterday to go back, because it wasn't until the ESIs stopped working that I realized just how much they WERE helping. Since mine lasted so long, we're no longer doing three week intervals, but I've learned that even though they might not seem helpful right away, you should stick with them because over time they help and they're so much better than surgery! So, if you're feeling frustrated by lack of results, HANG IN THERE!

Victoria 5 years ago

I am grateful for all of your posts. I have herniated L3, L4, L5 and L5-S1.

I was on a perfectly great road trip and it was hijacked by my back. So I have been mostly bed bound in a hotel for 7 weeks!

I have been going to a chiro & acupuncture. Week 4 I had my first Epi Shot. I felt 60-70% better. My personality came back even though I could not sit for mor than 3 minutes, stand or walk more than 5... But I was encouraged by progress. And the fact I used words vs grunting and hand gestures to communicate!

What has really made a difference is getting off the kind of pain meds that make you feel like you will die without a drink of water... I bought a low priced juicer and started juicing any fruit or veg I found to have anti- inflammatory properties. I have someone to juice for me as I could not do it in the first 7 weeks...

But after the 2nd shot today... I feel pain free much of the time.

I was supposed to drive back home to Alaska but I am going to fly home and take care od my back.

Tks again for your posts!

Debbie 5 years ago

Just wanted to say that I know someone that had his left side done today!!

Horrible experience.... The Dr numbed him up, did one injections everything was fine. Started on the second injection and my boyfriend told the Dr has started tasting a metallic taste in his mouth. My boyfriend had a seizure!! The Dr said that it had never happened before. He went to his office! Dr came back about 10-15 later and said this had never happened before his explanation of it was..... Some of the numbing medication must have got into his blood!! Keep in mind my boyfriend has had this done on his right side by another Dr!!! I just don't know what to think. Needless to say we do not want to go back to him!!

finnie 5 years ago

I have sciatica and had the ESI last May. It gave me alot of relief. Last week I swam for the first time in years and threw my back out. Now I can't lie down on my back and can hardly walk, also have foot drop on my right leg. My dr puts me out for the ESI and it's a really big deal. Plus 2 =3 days of headaches. Do u think it will help again?

Tina 5 years ago

I had an epidural done last week - I have been suffering from sciatic pain running down my leg and my bum hurts so much when I'm sitting. I'm supposed to call the doctor in a couple of days to let him know how it worked. I can honestly say that I don't have the same amount of pain running down my leg when I go to bed at night, so I'm sleeping a bit better, I'm definately not 100 percent yet! I'll probably have to get another. Regarding the procedure, they put an IV in my arm and the anethesiologist told me that I wouldn't be too far under as the doctor would be asking me questions, but it could give me amnesia. Well, one minute I was lying on my stomach in the OR and the next thing I know I'm in recovery lying on my back, I don't remember a thing - no pain from needles or the doctor asking me anything, I am certainly not afraid to have it redone as I had no discomfortfrom the needles at all.

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Cassie 5 years ago

I am so glad I came acrossed this site. I was so incredibly nervous about getting my ESI. I kept reading all over the internet that it was the worst pain anyone has ever felt and then found themselves in severe pain after the procedure. Well, I have 2 herniated discs (L4 & L5... and they are pinching the nerve in between). I have some of the worst sciatic pain and am just looking for some relief! I just had my procedure done 5 hours ago and didn't even feel the epidural. I was sedated and numbed with lidocaine. This procedure was an absolute breeze. I'm definitely in some discomfort now, but this is normal for up to 7 days after the procedure is completed. I'm praying that the relief will come. Any relief is better than none.

I just wanted to thank you for easing my mind on getting this shot. It was really nerve wrecking!

garrett farrell amya9904@gmail.com 5 years ago

ive had a steroid injection in my l5 and have not had any relief. can any one give me any advice...

Fred 5 years ago

I was supposed to get a cortisone shot for my neck yesterday. They get me in there, lay me on the table and put in the novacaine, roll the x-ray unit into place and a minute later I feel what feels like an electric shock in my right leg. I jump and the Dr. asks me what I felt. I told him and he said "your right leg? That's not supposed to happen" - so I'm feeling freaked out already, and then he says "I'm seeing some blood in the needle, so I'm not going to inject today." They sat me up to explain what happened and I got dizzy so had to lay there for a while, then told me that he might have "nicked a vein in there" and I should call them when I get home to tell me if i have any numbness in my arms or legs.

Then he says "so today wasn't your day - we'll just re-schedule and try again." I don't think so.

Anyone know a good witch doctor?

painful in IA 5 years ago

I am 23 and was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and bulging discs at L4 and L5. I know, surprising at my age, that is what the doc said also. I had my first ESI two weeks ago. I felt great the first week...the back pain, leg pain, and sciatica were gone. I was able to go to work and do my job without pain (I'm a nurse). However, this week, the pain is back in full force. I am supposed to call with an update in a couple days. I have a feeling he will do another ESI. I am hoping one of these times the shot will work, because I really don't want surgery.

Father of 3 5 years ago

I'm 24 years old, been living with herniated L4,L5,S1 disc past two years, I have pain in left testical,lower back pain & sometimes left knee "falls asleep" fast when "going #2".

My 1st schedule lumbar epidermal is in 3 weeks, I was told a herniated disc never heals, I just finish 6wks of PT.

 I was wondering is this what I should expect for rest of my life? I'm basically coming to the conclusion that the steroids will take pain away for so long, & once it wears off...I'm back to how I felt before injections.... Is this what it boils down to? Or will my back continue to get worse no matter what? Will I feel more/severe pain once steroids wear off?

 If so, if I keep doing home exercises,will this help reduce the pain? Maybe strengthening my muscles to reduce pain?  I'm sorry for long comment,I'm just really curious...any tips out there I can take in, too live/deal with herniated disc? Or should I avoid injections,deal with pain(like I have,which sucks) & just work on back with home exercises?

sinrag 5 years ago

I have a herniated disc at L5/S1.Cant sit for more than 10 minutes and hurts my right buttocks and upper thigh. Doesnt hurt when I stand. Tried everything from painkiller,cold/heat packs, acupuncture,chiropractor. Had my first ESI shot about 3 weeks. The procedure itself was pretty simple and had the anaesthisa for 24 hours and was pretty normal during that time. But had insomania, uneasiness. The pain reduced around 10% the first week after which the pain increased. So had my second shot after two weeks, this time both above and below the inflamed nerve so that the cortisone can reduce the inflammation from both the side. Today is day 7 of second shot and I have severe back ache added to my sciatic pain which the doctor had warned me off. I am scheduled for my 3rd shot next week (each shot in a series of 2 weeks). so far dont see any pain reduction after the second shot. The doctor has told me it might take 3-5 shots but i am not sure if I should take the shot or opt for surgery as the pain is pretty unbearable and like everyone here, very frustrated that I can not even do my basic activities. I am taking lyrica post ESI to soothe the nerves which I dont see any difference. Will the 3rd shot help me or do I opt for surgery? I am 35yrs old/male.

Disabled Veteran 5 years ago

I was very active throughout my life. I joined the Army and in Oct 1996, I had a traumatic injury to my left hip. I then had a surgery to remove some nerves in my left leg. They did a Spinal Block on me. Probably the dumbest thing I ever agreed too.

I got out and as I've gotten older, the pain has gotten to the point where I will rock back and forth crying. Thinking death would be good. No, I'm not suicidal but when you experience Chronic pain, things like this go through your head. At least it did for me.

I was first treated at a local Veteran's Hospital. They told me nothing was wrong with my spine. I was having problems walking, standing, sitting, laying down and even sleeping. I developed insomnia. I was given motrim, the wonder cure all drug.

Finally, in 2005 I think, I asked for pain medication. I was given Hydrocodone at 40mg a day. This made life tolerable. Over the years, I have tried all kinds of pain treatment. I found out that my injury caused Scoliosis at a couple discs in my Lumbar region. Basically L2 to S1 is toast.

I have seen 3 Neuro-surgeons and all have denied me surgery. Basically they all have said I will end up paralyzed from my waist down one day. This makes sleeping fun. Anyways...we moved to a new state and they have a Pain Clinic at the VA Hospital. I was sent there for treatment.

I had my 1st ESI in the end of Nov 2010. The pain was now tolerable to a point. One of my disc is bulging on a major nerve root to my right leg. So most of the time it feels like someone is trying to cut me open on the lower back. The ESI helped me in this manner.

By the 7th month since the first shot, I had to schedule for my 2nd ESI which I had the first week of July 2011. Life was bearable again. The procedure is just a temporary fix. My Doctors at the Pain Clinic make sure I understand this every time I need to get the ESI.

I wished they would have done this to me years and years ago. The down side is after about 3 months, the pain comes back. Basically I become a couch potato due to the pain since the Tramadol is a joke. Which means I have to have the shot in me by in then 4th or 5th month since my last shot. I have never regretted serving my country but this pain I am in sometimes does make me questioned why I ever joined. Thus I am happy the Pain Clinic does the ESI on me. I was injured when I was 24 and now 39. So I have been in Chronic pain for 15 years and one thing I know, it gets worse as you get older.

Steve 5 years ago

Had the epidural steroid injection a couple days ago and am not pleaed with the results. Does seem to offer temporary help, but the the money, in my situation, they are clalling it a herniated disk pushing on the sciatic nerve, I am thinking that a micro endoscopic discectormy would have been a better place to put my money. Makes sense to me that what has to be done is get the protrusion of the herniated disk removed.

Kelsey Hall 5 years ago

How does the pain/discomfort after having the procedure done compare to the pain you were feeling from your disc? I've been referred to a Neuro because all previous options haven't worked (chiro, acu, PT, meds, heat, ice, etc) and am tearing up with fear just reading this. I know the anticipation of the unknown is probably worse than the actual EVENT.

PS: My lawyer informed me that there's a 50/50 chance this will work. For some people it does and for others it doesn't. Nothing wrong with it if it doesn't. It just means it wasn't for you. I hope both our backs are better sooner rather than later.

Dotchi 5 years ago

Thanks. I have been looking for information on a patients perspective. This was really helpful. I have been working myself into shaking fits. I'll have mine in about a week. I am really nervous but you really helped me feel better about it. Thanks

Dotchi 5 years ago

Thanks. I have been looking for information on a patients perspective. This was really helpful. I have been working myself into shaking fits. I'll have mine in about a week. I am really nervous but you really helped me feel better about it. Thanks

Fenway Park 5 years ago

I feel so much for all who have posted who have not had the relief from their horrible pain. I agree that it can take you to such a very dark place, and it is hard for those who love you to understand that. I have had good, but not miraculous, results from my first two ESIs (what a triumph it was to be able to pee sitting down!). I am no where near normal yet, but I am so grateful for a measure of relief, even if I don't know how long it will last. I pray you will all know relief soon. Please keep hope as much as you can muster.

badback 5 years ago

I'm on month 7 with sciatic pain from a "mild" herniation between L5/S1. Geez, if this is "mild" I'd had to experience a "medium" or "very bad" herniation. Pain at all times.

I tried muscle relaxer (flexeril), ibuprofren, physical therapy with a slight improvement, but still the pain interrupts most of my life. I'm unable to sit for any length of time and I have a desk job.

Only reason I wanted to post was to provide a "fair and balanced" patient perspective with respect to the Epidural Corticosteroid Injections. I finished a set of 3 injections and absolutely zero pain relief from any of them. To add insult to injury the first two provided me the greatest physical pain in my life. In fairness, the pain lasted all of 5 seconds, followed by a 30 second rest and another absolutely brutal 5 seconds of gutteral screams. I was told my significant pain was because my sciatic nerve had been irritated so badly from the herniation. For the 3rd injection I went to a different doctor's office, they did it from a different angle, way down at the tailbone. This 3rd injection was a piece of cake, but same no-benefit outcome.

I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from giving the injections a try. They seem to work for some people, but most people I know gained zilch from them. Still, it would be foolish to undergo a surgery without at least attempting one cortisone epidural injection.

That said, I'm most likely going to undergo a discetomy or other surgery to remove the "mild" herniation that is interrupting my life all too early at 40. From what I've heard, the discetomy should provide immediate benefit, but unless a lifestyle change follows (stretching, core strength, walking with correct posture, sitting with Ergonomic chair and workstation), then another herniation will return in a year or two.

Again, just wanted to provide my experience. A few seconds of pain for the hope of a life without pain is an easy trade.

badback43 5 years ago

Hi! I am scheduled to have my first ESI tomorrow morning and I'm still terrified even after reading some of the positive stories. I found out about 5 months ago that I had mild disc herniations from t-12 through l5 and and one bulging from l5-s1 with mild scolios. The sciatica had gotten to the point where I could not move my left leg without incredible pain. I am a 43 year old female and the pain management doctor who I've only seen once has recommended this after a referral from a neurosurgeon who said I was not a surgical candidate at this time? I guess my nerves have got the best of me and I'm so close to not going that I'm about to call my ride and tell them to forget it. The pain mangement dr has prescribed me 3 tylenol 3's a day which really isn't helping at all. I understand the concern with narcotic medications, but I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't really all about making a quick 10,000 dollars? I have been sick for days now and it's really hard to take care of my young son being in pain constantly. I'm praying someone will respond soon as I need some reassurance or some advice on another route to go.

John 5 years ago

I have had a 10 year history with back pain which was always followed by sciatica. Both more annoying than debilitating. A month ago this all got much worse simply from lifting a house plant. I was in excruciating pain and had to hire an ambulance to get to an MRI center. This showed herniated discs (l5l6?). It was recommended that I get the epidural steroid injections. To be honest I was in so much pain and such an oxy haze the first one only hurt when the injected the numbing medicine. Mostly the epidural just felt weird. I saw improvement very quickly. I went from being bed ridden to able to walk down stairs to get my own coffee in 2 days. I spent 5 days trying to slowly get back into a routine. On Day 4 I stopped the oxy and diazepam and drove. The next day I went back to work. I only occasionally had minor back pain when sitting at work (where to be fair we have excellent chairs) and some sciatic pain in my thigh. I have been careful and slow and alternating ice and heat and mostly fine. The only really bad pain is the sciatica by the time I get home and sometimes I just absolutely have to get off my feet. I had my second injection today. It was more painful, not really terrible though and again very weird feeling. Most of the pain this time is likely because I was not on any pain meds and just not really in much pain. I am hoping this will help with the sciatic pain and hoping to get into a PT program to work on my core (honestly I feel like this will be my best hope for long term stability). One thing I would say is the way the epidural is done I was sitting leaning forward away from the Dr and I never saw any of the needles or any thing. I never look at needles when I am getting a shot. I have another appointment later in Jan and hope I am one of the lucky ones who can skip this.

carolinz 5 years ago

I have had 3 ~ my third being yesterday december 13 2011 ~ I was put under anesthesia for maybe 10 minutes the shot takes the doctor about 3 minutes to do ~

I have three crushed disks in my Lower back ~ I have a feeling I will be having the surgery to have them fussed as the ESI is not relieving my pain that moves into my side hip & back

Mark J 5 years ago

Is there anyone here who had a shot or two or three and returned to normal exercise and was fine. I realize that people who do well don't spend time on Internet talking about it as they are out and active. I have some slight herniation in S1 and degeneration in L5. I've have 4 episodes in 4 years and always turned corner in 2-3 weeks with massage, chiro, dry needling. My trigger has always been when I stopped cycling and gym and hiking for 6 weeks or so. Anyone really heal here? Sorry but it doesn't give me much hope for a cortisone shot. And as we know hope is part of recovery. Active 46 year old who never had any back problems after exercising ...only after sitting!!!!

karen 5 years ago

I had my injection done today.

karen 5 years ago

This was my experience: I was told to take off ALL of my clothes except my socks (I was kind of hoping to just have to slip down my pants as a previous poster had said!). The doctor then took a marker and put an X on my back where he was going to put the injection.

I was wheeled into the operating room and slid over onto the table. It did feel hard but they had put some sheets on top of it so it wasn't cold. They even put a warm blanket on top of me too.

I had on a blood pressure cuff, a finger monitor (sorry, not sure if that measures the pulse or whatever), and the little things that go into the nostrils. They put oxygen into it. I was told to lay on my stomach and then the dr. took a picture/or several (don't know as I wasn't facing that way) of my spine.

The nurse put on a topical cream/ointment and it felt warm to the touch so I figured it would have some pain reliever in it. Thankfully it did.

I should really have prefaced this comment by saying that I am the BIGGEST NINNY SISSY EVER when it comes to pain. Everything hurts me. I am terrified even when I get my blood drawn. I say this because I am hoping that some other poor desperate scaredy cat will derive some benefit from reading this.

I have read that the needle is similar to a bee sting. Honestly, I felt hardly anything (again, this coming from someone with a VERY VERY LOW threshold for pain). Then they must have put in the cortisone. I was told I would feel pressure, and I did. Pressure, not pain.

I truthfully have my doubts as to whether this will work or not because I don't feel any relief at all right now. It might be too early to tell though. I'll keep you updated. But the nurse did tell me that "most people require more than one round."

Mine was an L5/S1 bulging disk.

I was fortunate to have a doctor who cared. I was fortunate to have a male nurse who held my hand and let me squeeze his when I anticipated pain (if you are like me, always terrified that everything will hurt, you understand that pain is always anticipated, especially when you are in a hospital, right?

If you are okay with pain, don't bother reading on. But if you are a big sissy like me, I want to tell you what helped me.

1. Read as much information as you can. The more educated you are about this, the better prepared you will be.

2. Everyone's experience is different. Just because someone felt that this was very painful for them, does NOT mean the same fate awaits you

3. Anticipate that it will be painful. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it does help. If you expect lots of pain, you will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that you will have none (hopefully, as was my case)

4. Let the doctor and everyone you come into contact with know that you are allergic to pain! I let everyone there know so they would be extra gentle with me. And they were.

5. Don't be shy. The male nurse who held my hand was a God send. He let me squeeze his fingers, he stroked my other hand and he talked to me. If you need someone right beside you to help you, tell them!

6. Distraction is a good thing. It is hard to concentrate on anticipated or actual pain while you are talking and thinking. The male nurse talked to me, asked me questions and told me how good I was doing. This helped tremendously.

7. It's okay to sing. Yes, I should probably have put this under number 6, but I think it deserves it's own number! What helps ME is singing, talking, again being distracted. I sang out loud "la la la la" and then I started singing "Oh come all ye faithful." Hey, it's between Christmas and New Years, so at least I was seasonally appropriate. Did the dr, nurse etc think I was an absolute lunatic? Probably. But did it help me: with my anticipated pain, to get my mind off where I was, to not wiggle around? Yes. At the end they all said it was better to hear a patient singing than to hear one screaming!

I am a 47 year old female who posts probably about once every 5 years. I posted this specifically to help other people who are very scared of getting their ESI's done. I have to be honest. This hurt LESS than getting my blood drawn. It was mostly pressure.

Hope this helps even just one person.

And to the person who put up this site, you are a God send. Thank you so very much!!

karen 5 years ago

It's been 4 days since I had the injections. It helped me overall about 50%. Sometimes when I expect to have pain (for me mostly when I stand and walk), I don't. At other times I do have it. Overall, it's not as bad as it was. It definitely did help me.

nhocwc 5 years ago

Before I developed sciatic pain and learned I have a herniated disk and scoliosis, I was an active runner for many years. I just had my first ESI one week ago - when can I return to running? I asked this question when I got the ESI but didn't get a clear answer. I've been going on short walks with no problems. I am feeling better although not yet pain free, and don't want to reinjure myself or make it worse. This is a great forum and I welcome your advice and sugestions.

karen 5 years ago

Best advice I can give you is to talk to your doctor. I was advised that is is okay to exercise, but it is best to walk rather than to run (as running puts a lot of pressure on the disk as you are pounding the pavement). My dr. said to exercise in a slow deliberate fashion, like stretching, and not to do jerky exercises. I have also read that it is best to not put strain on the back disk and to do exercises like biking rather than being on the treadmill if possible. Good luck!

karen 5 years ago

Okay, it has been about 10 days since I had the ESI and I feel that it is about fifty percent effective still. I do not wake up at night in pain, which is absolutely wonderful to actually sleep through the night.

If you have sciatica, these things may give you a little relief:

1. the longer I stand and walk around, the more my sciatica hurts. Therefore, limit yourself. Instead of doing an hour of housework say, I do four, fifteen minute blocks instead spread throughout the morning.

2. Find your comfortable position. Mine is not leaning back or walking. Mine is leaning forward in a chair or laying down. Force yourself to remember your more comfortable positions and use them. e.g. when I go see a movie, the chairs lean back a little. This causes a lot of pain in the leg for me. So I stuff a jacket all balled up right behind my upper back. It props me up and leans me forward.

3. Enlist others to help you. Being a single mom I am so used to do everything myself, but I have been forced to stop picking up everyone else's junk. They have working legs, let them do their own picking up. Get help. If your family does not start to complain, I want them! My adult daughter who lives with me was clearly not overjoyed to be helping me out. So what? It's what I need at the time, so she can help me out, like it or not.

4. Baby your body. Like I said before, the ESI did help somewhat, but it still does hurt when I am on my feet a lot. I literally bend my left leg, the one that hurts me, when I walk. When I say bend I don't mean ridiculously bending, but just a slight barely noticeable bend. I do the same when I am in the shower or standing up in the kitchen making dinner. I try to lean more of my body weight on the right leg.

5. Don't try to "push through the pain" with exercising. My pain would get worse in my legs when I was exercising, e.g on the treadmill. But I continued to do it as I thought I was strengthening my leg and becoming more flexible and blah blah blah. All that really ended up happening was I was in more pain. For ME, I have only a finite amount of time I am able to stand up at one time, so I use my time blocks wisely. If I start to feel a little pain, I sit down.

Hope this helps some.

nhocwc 5 years ago

Its been 2 weeks since I had my first ESI and its taken about this long for me to feel it has worked. I am feeling minimal pain and have finally been able to stop the pain meds. I can only pray that this lasts.

carolinz 5 years ago

Mark J ~ I do know people who have had the ESI and no pain and went back to their routine. After reading your post I have to say I can relate in regards to pain from sitting.

I am having some other type of shot this coming Friday, I will post the name of it later.

Basically the ESI is to give you some relief giving you time to focus on exercising your core, doing so in baby steps ~ no Military sit ups! The idea is that your stomach muscles get strong this will support your back ~ If you are over weight you may want to try a more vegetarian diet with fish and fowl a couple times a week ~ if there are issues like constipation this can put pressure on your spinal cord & back creating pain.

Good luck to you all! ~ for me I am just doing what I just wrote determined to get my abs back in shape will relieve the pain besides a few extra pounds I gained from the prier months they told me not to work out!


thyroideyes46 5 years ago

Over a period of 6-7 years, I think, I've had two series of ESI (3 each), and they helped me w my degenerative disc disease (L3,L4,L5,S1,S2) Two of those discs are slightly bulging. They worked for me, but the injections did not last very long. If I remember right, the pain came back by the end of a year or before. I've also had SI injections (sacroiliac), which helped. Bilateral Trochanteric Bursitis is another condition I have to get injections. I'm currently getting physical therapy for Tendinopathy of gluteus medius. I don't know if all these conditions are caused by the discs or if they just developed because of weaknesses. I'm doing Piriformis, hip flexor,and IT band stretches at home. I'm also working on strengthening my core muscles. All the exercises seem to help, but I still may need ESI later. My pain is greatest when I stand up from sitting. When I get my injections, I have IV sedation, so I don't feel the injections. I have had a few injections w/o sedation, and the injection site wasn't that sore. I will do anything to lessen the disc pain, but I don't want surgery. My sciatica episode occurred in 1997 or 1998. That's the most painful thing I've gone through, next to giving birth. Thank God for Hydrocodone and corticosteroids!

Ocky 5 years ago from UK

I have trawled through I don't know how many sites to find out more about people's experiences with the ESI as I am to have one in a week's time. I have to say I am starting to wonder if it is worthwhile? Perhaps I am just being very pessimistic, but coming from the UK, the NHS system was taking too long and I have had to go privately, so the injection is costing me over £1000! It's not guaranteed and it looks as if it is more than likely that you will need more than one of them.

I have a disc bulge L5 region and this is causing me to have aches around my hips thus causing me problems with getting around. I cannot drive any more and find it difficult to walk around the house. I also get a dull pain down my left leg, but no further than my knee, however, it still causes enough pain for me to be unable to move around freely. Does anyone else have problems with their hips?

What should I do? Is this injection going to help me or as some other people have stated, is it just wishful thinking that it might be the answer to an deep rooted problem? Comments most appreciated.

casey 5 years ago

just 4 hrs home from the hospital after getting an l5 s1 spinal injection - the first!, Got a general anesthetic (G/A). This is after the 6th wk of right side sciatia pain. symptoms beforehand.. Can't drive, walk far, i can stand for about 30mins and then have to lay down flat. Sitting down absolutely kills me and i get severe leg cramp at night. 3-4 times a night. The injection part is fine - G/A helped a lot. After the injection i seem to have very very sore leg muscle pain. Yet the doc says i'll be fine to work and drive tomorrow!?! Optomistic but i like his thinking! Lets hope the morning brings less pain.

thyroideyes46 5 years ago

Ocky, it sounds like your symptoms are causing you enough problems that it might be worthwhile for you to have the injection. The number of injections varies with everyone, but it seems like 3 is the popular number. Yes, I have problems w my hips, too; that's why I do stretches to make the lumbar area looser. The location of the disc bulge also determines your amount of pain. Some people have degenerative discs, and they're not in pain. I've always had a certain amount of pain--just a little to a lot. It depends, too, on how active I am that day (yardwork or shopping, etc). I hope you can get relief and get your life back.

Ocky 5 years ago from UK

Thanks for that comment thyroideyes46 (love the name!). I needed someone to give me that kick and stop me from feeling down in the dumps. Are there any specific exercises that you are using for the stretches that I should find out about? I have the MacKenzie Back book and have been working through this, but that came crashing down, but I need to get back into this again or else I will never get better. I am giving myself a year before I book any holidays or trips away.

thyroideyes46 5 years ago

Ocky..Is this the week you had your injection? Wondered how you felt. A physical therapist I've been going to gave me specific exercises for my condition (tendinitis of gluteus medius). That tendon affects the glutes, so that's why I'm doing hip and other stretching exercises. I don't know the MacKenzie Back Book. The PT exercises seem to be working for me. As we age, osteoarthritis is almost certainly something everyone has. I'm full of it, so I know movement is important. Lying in bed is not good. Muscles/joints need movement. You can find exercises online, or a trainer at a gym can help you. I also walk 2 miles every day. That warms me up enough so I stretch afterward. I know osteoarthritis will haunt me the rest of my life, but a lot of people have this. I'm just thankful it's not worse than it is. I'm still mobile but not always pain free. Good luck, Ocky! Hang in there.

Ocky 5 years ago from UK


Thanks for keeping in touch with me.

It's a week today that I will be having the injection and hoping that all will go well. I am sure that the private health centre are happy to get their mitts on the money!

Are you in the UK?

You are right about lying down, though sometimes, standing up and walking around is enough to have me bent over in pain. I then lie on the floor face down and arch my back which is a way of taking the pain away, but not for very long. I need get myself walking and exercising to ensure that I don't stiffen up. My husband walks 3-4 miles a day and I have been on walks with him prior to this back problem. You sound as if you have the right positive attitude and I need to take a leaf out of your book.

Have a good weekend and be in touch soon. Ocky

laney 5 years ago

thankyou so so much for the information on having the injection, im having one (my first ) on monday an scared is not the word. after reading your piece on your experience, im feeling alittle better, i just hope it goes as well as yours did.. thanks again for the info

casey 5 years ago

ok day 4. injected into l5 s1 on wed last (today being sat). Bit down being honest.The day after was pure pain so dosed up (difene, tylex, diazepam) and slept as much as i could. I had burning feeling though my leg the 3nd day. Sitting which was not doable beforehand was an odd experience. I felt some nerve pain but mostly numb. The 4th day i have the exact same pain as i had before the injection but sitting is again an odd feeling. pressure in tailbone and numb leg. Gonna reserve judgment until monday making it 5 days in total. Whats odd now is laying down was the only place i found comfortable, now i have extreme pain when turning over. Have to stay positive but christ its getting harder to do so.

cheree r 5 years ago

I have a severely screwed up back. I just got an epidural injection 3 days ago. I was very nervous about the procedure and did not want to do it, but I have a very pushy Dr that brushes off my concerns. She basically forced me into doing the injection. So I got the injection and for me the procedure was pain free. I didn't feel the needle or the steriods being injected. The Dr did a transforamenal injection in 2 spots on the right foramens. After the epidural was completed I was able to leave the hospital about 30 to 45 minutes later. When I stood up I started to feel pain in my back and numbness in my right leg. The nurses told me it is normal and should subside in 1-2 hours. Well its been 3 days and the numbness hasn't gone away. My right leg randomly goes out, and I've fallen twice, once backward down the stairs on the third step landing on my back. I'm in a lot of pain from the falls. I'm also very afraid to walk around my house, because there's a lot of stairs! I've called my Dr, but haven't heard back yet. I'm curious if the numbness has happened to anyone else, is this normal??

thyroideyes46 5 years ago

No, cheree, I did not have the numbness you described after I had epidural injections. That's very troubling for you, I'm sure. You need to talk to your doctor, like you said. To have numbness for 3 days is not normal, I would think. Hope you got a satisfactory answer from your doctor, and I hope the numbness dissipated. You can't function like that.

Backpain@60 4 years ago

I have had 10 epidurals over the past few years and I must say they usually work for 3-4 months totally pain free. For those of you nervous about it don't be whole procedure takes no more than 45 minutes. A preliminary lidocaine injection followed by the procedure with some minor discomfort but it does work.

Maria 4 years ago

I have been in pain for a long time and i need this done I am scared to death being this is a delicate part of our body. Cant they put me to sleep so i wont feel anything? my BP is crazy as it is. I dont want anymore pain what should i do?

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

Yes, backpain@60, I agree with you. Those ESI's work for me, but some people still don't get relief. It's an individual thing.

Maria, you can choose to get IV sedation so you won't know when you're being injected. Once you've gone through it, you'll see that it's not a big deal. It's the not knowing that causes the anxiety.

idan75 4 years ago

i just had my 1st shot today, hardly felt a thing, i to was stressed about the pain,i have a ruptured L4/L5 and sciatic pain,but to be honest once the deaden the area its pretty strait froward and pain free,it was done 12hrs ago and at the moment i feel no difference but apparently it takes a few days to kick in (if it works)

casey 4 years ago

Tomorrow is 1 wk since l5 s1 injection. Loads of lower back ache / pressure still. Generally after 1-2hrs of being up on my feet i feel exhausted & aching. Intermittent relief. Some days have been better than others. Yesterday was first day to drive - resulted in the exact same level of sciatia pain as in the beginning. Very very sore for the rest of the evening. Drove this evening after taking tylex & difene. Was uncomfortable but i was able to do so. This is not a daily option to do this as they make me drowsy. Catch 22. its not total relief after it yet it has made a difference, its just not enough to make daily life return to where it should be. Rang Doc and he said come in to discuss possible surgery.

Can anyone advise please..

Is the likelihood of one injection permanently solving the issue over further time if i include correct posture and exercise etc.


Is it worth just biting the bullet now and going down the discectomy route with a view to returning to work, working out and avoiding the temperary fix everyone calls cortisone injections?

advice appreciated..

Maria 4 years ago

I have had 2 feet surgeries I thought that would be it but then they discover I have neuropathy and they said there has to be a cause for that. Doing the spine Mri they realized its two hearniated disc pinching the nerve. Im okay but I can predict the weather! there are days were its bad!!! i drag my feet and if i sit I dont want to stand, and after i stand i think about sitting again. Its a no win situation. I cant tolorate the neuropathy medications so i just deal with the pain sometimes i cry myself to sleep. I do believe at times no one believes me that everyone thinks im crazy. I wish this works for me because i sure dont want any back surgery and i do see it going that way. What if I do get back surgery and its worst? I know some one who did have it and said he feels worst..I guess everyone is different.

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

Nashville G-man...thank you for this hub...let me first say ..your explanation of the ESI was spot on except I did not feel the electric shock. The most uncomfortable part was the pressure I felt for sure. Also currently there is a shortage of sedation so I was only able to get one sedative with a Xanax beforehand. For the 2 ESI's they have given me 2 Xanax prior to but ask for the sublingual kind because these just work better than the chewable one (found that out the hard way too). I would say try this before surgery but as I type this my Dr. has said to start to doing research on surgeons.*****

***For those who want to read this here is (you can skip down to the end to see where I am at today as I type this )my story. It began 2 years ago with a bulging disc L-4/L-5 S1 on my right side...all from lifting a 33 lb bag of dog food and hoisting into my arms. So I have been battling back issues off and on since then. However this time around when my back pain began in my lower back as it usually does it was just a bit higher up (it felt that way to me) and I went to my general doctor all to just get anti- spasm meds/pain meds/anti-inflammatory meds. At that November 2011 appt I said "this back pain" is different than what I had experienced in the last 2 years. So out the door I went with my Rx's. I also was doing my McKenzie exercises which provided no relief...again I said this to my general doctor. I went on with work for the next 6 weeks...gradually increasing the Ibuprofen OTC (4 each time several times a day) during the day and the pain med at night as it made me to sleepy and unable to drive and/or work. Now in between the meds and work Urgent Care and ER I was seeing my chiropractor and was getting a couple of massages. The first massage a bit of relief second massage by another person at the chiropractor helped some. The chiropractor even helped a bit at first but then seemed even that relief was very temporary and seemed to make matters worse. I used a TENS unit at home which I learned about from PT the first time around in 2009 but the TENS unit was not even helping. No relief. The pain got worse and then started to radiate down the back of my left buttock thigh and calf. I also felt like I had pulled a large calf muscle as I was trying a technique at home that the message therapist told me about to really work the piriformis(sp) muscle...if this had simple been a muscle pull it would have healed...it was not it was a muscle cramp/spasm and yes it felt like a large charlie horse in the back of my calf and then my thigh...again these were not pains I had ever felt with my previous back episodes. So now I could not walk on my left leg without excruciating pain and I now walked hunched over like a monkey with a limp it literally hurt even more to try to stand straight up. So this monkey (me)walked this way into the Urgent Care at the end of Dec 2011 to be given some Decadron (steroid) to help and then with Rx for another steroid to take for a 5-7 day period. I walked in and out in pain and tears. The next day I went to the ER with all the same pain. They refused to take an MRI their words were "your 2009 MRI showed a bulging disc even if we take another one you'll still be in pain." I told them I had never felt this pain before and a new MRI may be able to tell them if something else was wrong or that there was another bulging disc as again I kept saying this all started from a different kind of back pain and it has never gotten this bad before. If cutting my leg off would have been an option I would have taken that option that is how much pain I was in. So off I went crying and in pain just the way I had arrived....fast forward to 3 weeks later and I am at a Pain Management Center. This Dr took one look at me a asked what took so long for me to get into see her...I explained the above to her. She ordered an MRI which was done 3 days later all to show, yep, another bulging disc but on my LEFT side this time and not the RIGHT. Previous to the MRI she gave me an ESI in hopes she could bring the inflammation under control. First ESI did not do anything at first but by day 7 (the day I was do go in for the second one)my foot felt a bit better not as numb feeling or as cold. On the day of the second ESI I saw my GP prior to and she said "I don't see this fixing itself in 2 weeks". It didn't produce anything at first but by day 4 or 5 I could stand straighter and walk more normal but still had pain and my leg just could not get comfortable. But I believe the second one was more successful b/c the Dr knew where to inject the steroid this time b/c of the MRI. Jan 26th, 2012 was my 3rd and final for now...I'm hopeful but I do have to say that I am nervous b/c I have some of the similar cramping going on again in the back of my calf again and my whole foot is cold and tingly but this is just the second day afterward. I have been off work during all this b/c I could not continue with "normal activities" (can't sit, stand or walk for very long and in pain). I'm really tired of the meds. I am also fearful b/c I know this is a band-aid for my problem. No one has said anything about exercising other than when I tried in the beginning my nerve and muscles were so inflamed it would not have done any good. I can say I am very frustrated and disappointed at the ER Dr who did not recognize that the pain I was experiencing on my LEFT side had nothing to do with the bulge on my RIGHT side two years ago. And perhaps if they had taken the time I could have gotten into the Pain Center sooner and been back to work by now or at least on the right track instead of living with the intolerable pain I had.

casey 4 years ago


Be careful that the pain is masking serious nevre damage.. Especially if its going past 6-8 wks mark. If your dragging your foot or have tingles then i'd get straight to the Doc again. Its possible you'll permanently damage the movement in the up/down of your foot. Thats what i was told and i'm opting for a discectomy this week. I can't afford to risk permanent damage with they way i work..

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@ Casey thanks for your comment...

This is day six since my last ESI...I did ask the Dr about nerve damage as the ER would not take an MRI..she said it is hard to determine if waiting would cause nerve damage (personally I believe it could have b/c my nerve was inflamed for so long). Anyhow, I'm hopeful. I am feeling better and can walk more up right now. At night tho my lower left leg feels cold,achy and tingly and it is hard to get comfortable. And I cannot stand on my leg for very long with out making those symptoms worse. I have read on other sights many ppl experience major cramping in their legs after these ESI's and it is true...2-3 days after each one I feel like the bad cramping is coming back and feel like I am getting worse but I had to work thru it. I do not want surgery.

casey 4 years ago

@ bjcatz25

Why not surgery? Your disc is blown. Thats it forever more.. Nothings going to change that. So if you have a year to spare and time to endure the pain and go the natural route then do so.

The space between the vertibrae and the nerve is now compromised. If the disc dries out over the next yr it can attach to the nerve permanently so even if you do decided or are forced for surgery - when they remove the disc excess it may tear the nevre = perm damage. My view and its my own non medical joe soap normal working person is.. its coming down the line so bite the bullet. Im booked in for a discectomy fri 10th feb. Circumstances force me into the decision that now is the time to do it rather than wait. At least now i can box off the ability to pay for the house and feed the kids. Who knows what will be the scenario in 6mths when it creeps its way back to render me in me agony.

Injections are only band aids to a serious problem that has the ability to leave to you damaged forever. Besides the massive pain it causes you in the mean time.

Thats just my view i hope i don't offend or annoy you. Its taken much deliberation for me to get to the decision to go surgery. Its fight or flight for me.

casey 4 years ago

@ bjcatz25

Sorry having re-read your original post. (apologies for my tunnel vision) You have bulging discs. My scenario is different its ruptured and beyond natural repair and without devine intervention ain't going away. The same view point applies.. The fact remains its trapping a nerve with possible irreversible effects.

I feel your pain. Catch 22

PA-Girl 4 years ago

I am glad that I found this thread, as I am set up for a ESI in 2 days, and I am scared to death! I have 13 children, 6 were natural childbirth and then I had epidurals for the rest, with the last 3 being c-sections. I have degenerative disk disease and spinal stenosis. I was involved in two car accidents over a two years span. The first accident caused me to have a cervical fusion with plate and screws inserted. I was starting to recover and come back to myself, never was the same, but was able to function normally to a small degree. Then the second accident ( car was rear ended), the recent one, made my legs/feet go numb. The MRI showed the two above mentioned disorders and I am scheduled for the ESI. The place I will have the procedure does not do anything but a topical numbing. Are these injections similar to an epidural you receive before childbirth? I felt better when I read the G-MAN, but then went onto to read some of the nightmares with this procedure and I am wondering if I should just cancel it. Any help/input would be greatly appreciated!

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

The first time you get one is always the scariest, I think, because you don't know what the procedure will be. I've had IV sedation with mine and some I didn't have IV sedation. The topical numbing does lessen the injection discomfort. To me, it's no worse than when I donate blood, and they find a good vein. Every person reacts differently, of course, but I think it's worth your going through it, especially since your legs/feet are numb. The injection will lower that inflammation that's causing the numbness.

I guess the ESI is similar to a childbirth epidural--not sure. I had a pudental block with 1st baby and nothing with 2nd. I didn't feel pudental block because I probably had some other pain medication, or the contractions hurt so badly, nothing else hurt in comparison.

PA-Girl 4 years ago

Thank you thyroideyes. I appreciate your input. I know it is crazy for someone who has had this many children to be a chicken about this, but I am really scared. Maybe because I do not have the contractions going on to make me say, "Do what you have to so these pains will stop!" I am now in another form of pain and hoping that it will make the feeling come back in the legs & feet and the back swelling to go down. I would like to walk upright again, instead of walking hunched over and leaning forward. My legs are so weak they go out from under me when I try to walk, so I cannot go far without the help of someone. I stomp when I start walking because I cannot feel my feet hitting the ground, so I know I look like an elephant. I am only in my mid 40's and hoping to get some sort of life back again. Thank you again for your help!

SC nurse 4 years ago

After 6mth of pain, oral &IM steroids, oral and IM pain medication I am scheduled for my first ESI 4 days. I am a nurse and pretty much know what to expect, but I think sometimes that makes it worst. I think after reading all the post an important thing to consider is who is going to be giving you the injection. Research your doctors, you can do this by going to such websites as www.healthgrades.com. On this website you can see their education, experience, specialities, complaints against them, as well as other patients comments. There are doctors out there doing pain management who are not even certified in pain management. The most important thing to me was to have an anesthesiologist do the injection. You don't want just anyone poking you near your spinal cord! Wish me luck on Wed (I am not looking forward to this, but if I get any relief it will be worth it!)

Hasan 4 years ago

hello .. i wanna ask a question please .... i have a pain in my middle back something. like shock it comes for a second and disappear with no pain .. so i didn't work out for a month now and a numbness starts in my upper left back ... numbness don't stop for more than month any one know ??! what is this called ??!

casey 4 years ago

hasan - its called get yourself to the doc fairly lively mate. That doesn't sound good.

Linda 4 years ago

I had one about a year ago and they put me out, so I felt nothing. I had alot of relief until I went swimming and must have undid what they did. Now I have alot of pain and a drop foot. I am thinking of getting another one. Have to go for another MRI tho, but it did help.

Hasan 4 years ago

I ve been to 3 doctors ... bones and brain and nerves then the last specialized in this problems .. they told me to make MRI i did it they set me for lerica and some drugs which relax muscle but i feel noyhing getting better more than a month taking the medicine and nothing happend may be it get worser than first .. the last one told me to a 3d x ray on back ... and am waiting .. but i was only want any one to tell me what do u think about this ? thxx in advance :)

AnnB 4 years ago

I have had pain from just below my left knee up to the hip for 2 years after falling off a bicycle. Cannot sleep properly no matter which side I sleep on and walking is excruciating. Pain killers are useless. The doctor advised me to have an esi. I would be willing to have it but is it true that I cannot have a scan unless I agree to an esi? By the way, I'm 65 and female.

nhocwc 4 years ago

I had an ESI about 6 weeks ago and was doing much better. My physical therapist is starting me on lumbar traction - what has been your experience with it?

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

AnnB, I'm also a 65 yr-old female. By scan, do you mean MRI? Don't know why your doc said you can't have an MRI w/o agreeing to ESI. Maybe your insurance requires it? Ask your doctor or his office staff more details. Usually the pain doctor/orthopedist has to look at an MRI to see what's going on with your body and what is causing the pain. Seems like you still have the choice to have injection or not. No one can MAKE you do anything. Have someone explain it to you in a way you can understand.

AnnB 4 years ago

nhocwc. I do not know which type of scan the doctor was talking about, I assume it was an MRI. I have been going to an NHS doctor at a clinic in Sussex which was referred to me by my own local doctor. They both agree with each other that it is a nerve running from my hip to below my knee (although lately the pain has spread to 4 inches below my knee). I will go back to my local doctor to seek his advice as he doesn't seem so pushy. Thanks for your advice. I find this website has set my mind at rest. I really felt that no-one was listening to me and also felt that I was the only person in the world with this problem, sometimes the pain being so bad (especially after driving or walking) that I would gladly have died. But not now, this column is a Godsend.

IYAS 4 years ago

Hi everybody

I had the injection two days ago, the pain decreased by 40% (and frankly speaking the whole procedure is a bit painful but it takes less than 30 Min for L4 L5 and L5 S1) but the question is for those had done the same: for how long the numb with your feet lasts? as it is the third day now and still feel my right feet numb.

casey 4 years ago


It can take up to 3wks. But thats for the nerve pain. Unlikely to remove numbness. The positive point to remember is that if the pain is reduced the doc has hit the right spot but the compression on the nerve maybe too great to remove the numb foot at all.

casey 4 years ago


What was confirmed in MRI? You obviously have trapped nerve. But MRI shows why? Meds are first treatment as anti inflamitory. failing that its Injections failing that its surgery. Without info on MRI its hard to comment.

IYAS 4 years ago


yes the pain was reduced but I feel my leg more weaker than before and the numbness didnt go, but as you mentioned Doc told me that it might take some times, and now am doing some Ph therapy (electric, Ultra sound, and some machine strtching and hot pad) for 15 days, all better than repeating the surgery again as I had a lot of terrible time after the first surgery.thanks anyways Casey

nhocwc 4 years ago

I had an ESI six weeks ago and have been doing fine, but now the tingling in my leg is returning. How do I know when it is time to get another ESI? Do I wait until its painful, or schedule it now?

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

nhocwc, there are only so many injections you can get in a short amount of time. Your doc can tell you how many you can tolerate. Steroids contribute to bone loss. Maybe you can have physical therapy to see if certain exercises can help? Or maybe you can get another injection if you're not at your limit already.

nhocwc 4 years ago

I just had one ESI and can get 3 more this year. I've been doing PT, lumbar traction, and a lot of various stretching exercises. I'm just wondering how you know when is the optimal time to get another injection, or wait it out.

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

Hi All @ Casey thank you for the info about surgery no offense was taken by your comments. The update on my situation is that after 3 ESI's all my pain has come back as if it was day one with my pain with now an added "on fire" sensation in my lower leg and foot...this is just my situation. By the time my insurance got me into the Pain Consultants for first ESI my nerve was so inflamed and by the time they ordered an MRI to confirm what we all knew I was still in pain and the inflammation was only slightly masked my meds. Fast forward to 02/09/2012 and I am on Morphine which really is not doing anything along with another oral steroid ( I feel my voice getting deeper..lol..that is actually the morphine laughing). A surgical consult is next just jumping thru more darn insurance hoops for authorization...what more do they need? My nerve is too inflamed for PT or any kind of exercise. My GP said let’s just get you as comfortable as possible until you can consult a surgeon for a discectomy. So any info you have would be great...I am already doing my research on neurosurgeons.


Again ESI's can work and do work but for me it was very very temporary. I was too far behind the 8 ball

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@Casey good luck tomorrow please keep us posted on your surgery and recovery!

Joanna 4 years ago

ESI may be the solution to my problem! Any recommendations on a good doctor? Appreciate any help.

danniellexoxoxo. 4 years ago

Ive had a slipped disc since January 2011,and only recently they found out what it was! the pain has honestly been so unbareable,although on valentines day I will be having this injection,fingers crossed it relieves my pain!

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@ Joanna: I live in Michigan and have had my ESI's at a place called Michigan Pain Consultants but I had to be referred by my general practioner but my insurance was also having me go to a Spince Center for Care.

@ dannielle...good luck...Valentine's is when I go for a surgical consult.

@ all again I am no Dr and what I write here is just my opinion and experience. Please consult your physician and do your homework and I do wish you all luck for whatever path you take.

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

Yes bjcatz25. Agree w you that most insurances require a referral to pain clinic from primary care physician. The orthopedist have pain doctors in their office who specialize in giving the injections. All insurance policies are different in what they pay and what is allowed. Disc problems are very, very common, so every large city has the pain centers where injections can be given. It's so nice to know that there is always some kind of relief out there, from pain patches to oral pain medication to injections. Just don't take anything that's addictive. For me, activity is the key to less pain. I don't sit around very long. I exercise every day and do flexibility exercises.

Like bjcatz said, do your homework. There is a lot of info on the Internet. Check a reliable source, though. You don't have to live in pain. If the quality of your life has decreased, get some help to correct it. Life is too short to live in constant pain.

Linda 4 years ago

How do you find a PT with the traction machine without calling all of them in the area? I have had the ESI and it did help for quite awhile, but now that I have a foot drop, dr won't do the ESI again.

bjcatz25 4 years ago

So sorry about that I'm not sure that is a good question I guess I would start with the PT that are covered by your insurance first. Let me know if a tension table works. I've only seen one YouTube video show one. Otherwise I never knew about them.

lou 4 years ago

Sorry to disagree, but my steriod cortisone shot was very painful and I could not walk afterwards for a few hours. Then only with a cane. It has been two days and still a lot of pain but I am hoping it gets better with time.. probably won't do it again unless i see big improvement in a few days.

DrDonna 4 years ago

I also had this done and would recommend doing it. I had 2 injections after a 3rd broken back. The first one didn't seem to do muchgood, but the second one made me feel like a new person!

Anne 4 years ago

I apologize for not reading all of the posts on this thread. But I would not be able to sleep peacefully tonight if I didn't quickly share with you the fact that steroids have done nothing for me but bring very temporary relief and major adrenal shock/ hormone imbalances. The greatest blessing that I have ever received in my life is PROLOTHERAPY! I have herniated l5-s1, and have a severe case of SI joint instability/ sacrum issues. I can say that after 6 debilitating years of pain, decompression therapy and prolotherapy from a wonderful, reputable doctor have together saved my life. Please, stop the steroids and the snowball effect of weakening the joints. Stop te surgery unless it's absolutely emergent, and seek out prolotherapy. I don't want anyone to ever have to live with the pain I have felt, without the hope and reality that they can heal and live full lives. I am 30 years old this year, and plan to have a decade of new strength that my 20s couldn't offer me. God bless.

P. Reynolds 4 years ago

Someone please help me understand why my Pain Specialist has allowed me to suffer the excruciating pain and headaches. It has now been 8 weeks. I'm pretty certain I need a blood patch, but they refused. I'm allowed 4 Norfolk 10/325 per day and they've switched my muscle relaxer 4 times, and only increase my pain med by 2 pills for 1 day only, on 3 occassions since the injections. All I want is to be back where AI was before the injections, but they refuse to acknowledge anything is wrong. All my drug screenings have been totally appropriate, and I have tried giving this time and remain optimistic. Then 2 days ago, they allowed me to come in, did a pill count which was appropriate so they finally inverses my Norfolk to 2, 3 times daily, switch my muscle relaxers again, and ordered an MRI on my thoracic and cervical, when its my lumbar. Only to be contacted by them yesterday to let me know they were releasing me as a patient. Why would any medical professional do this, not only deny appropriate treatment, but turn them loose in my condition? Am consulting with an attorney now, but now I'm in very delicate condition, and must seek new referral for new doctor, before I can get any help.

Brian 4 years ago

Hey everyone. This is a great site and I've read many of these posts. I have bulging discs in my L4-L5 L5-S-1 from the military. I've been living with this pain for over 5 years And frankly I'm sick of it. Radiating pain from back and don't even get me started about the butt and leg pain. I went to my Dr and after all the chiro

Brian 4 years ago

Visits and the MRIs and physical therapy, steroid pills, Loritabs, muscle relaxers. Nothing really helps. Sure it takes the pain alittle but then when thy wear off its back to the same ol' thing. So finally I am going to my first EPI on Wed. I reall really hate needles so I am praying I am not going to have a bad experience like some of you have had. And I really hope that this works. I don't want to do surgery and I really don't think they will do that yet because I'm still young at 35. My goal is to get the shot hope it works and then workout like a madman to strengthen my core. I also bought this decompression belt that I saw on an infomercial the other day by a Dr Ho I think. Anyways I'll keep ya posted on my experience. Good luck everyone!

bjcatz25 4 years ago

@Brian how does that decompression belt work...I was very tempted my self to add that to my bag of tricks. THe ESI's did not work for me and the end result was surgery for 11 days ago. I am 45 so a bit older than you but as they told me I was too young for this also but I had a great surgeon. In my case they found out during surgery the nerve was totally pinched off and part of the disc had broken off so you can see surgery was my only hope of any relief. I am hopeful the surgery was a success but have been warned the disc could herniate again (same disc has heriated twice in two years but causing different pain and the first time it did resolve itself without surgery but this time it was more serious and would not resolve itself without some intervention)I do feel alot better but still have residual tingling and achiness in my left foot. The surgeon said this would be the case as my nerve was pinched so much for so long. We are both hopeful this will go away in time. I have been off work for 8 weeks prior to surgery and it looks like I may be back to work in about 5 weeks or so. If surgery is in your future get yourself a shower chair, a "reacher/grabber" thingy you can pick things up with and get a seat for your toilet so will not have to bend down so far after surgery. I was in the hospital over night and then sent home the next afternoon. Good luck too you!

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@ Brian continued...I had a laminotomy and discectomy L5 S1. Oh I meant to say a "raised" toilet seat for your bathroom so you don't have to bend down so far.

Brian 4 years ago

I haven't gotten my belt yet but I will let you know if works. Getting ready to get my ESI done actually right now. Nervous.....

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

Brian, I hope the ESI worked for you. They always help me; I just wish they would last longer. They get easier after the first one because you know what to expect. The anxiety isn't as high as the first time. Good luck, and let us know how you feel tomorrow.

LastStraw 4 years ago

Great thread. I have read virtually read everyone's post, and have come to the conclusion that - what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger! I am suffering with L5 herniated disc, and major sciatic pain in my left leg. I'm going in to see my doctor tomorrow to see what his insight is on this - as he's always prescribed medication instead of a solution. Wish me luck!

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@Brian how was was your ESI? Looks like that was a week ago....I hope your are still feeling no pain as I write this.

My road to recovery continues as I fell two weeks after surgery. I hope I did not 'undo' what the surgeon did. I will see him in a few days as I have more pain in my left AND right legs now....I was doing so good for two weeks darn it!

Christina 4 years ago

I had injections yesterday. 37 years old female - L5/S1 Degenerative disc disease/herniated disc. Pain when sitting up/driving/certain sleep positions. Best relief is walking/standing. Im on NO pain meds as I have children to care for and am afraid of side affects. ( I do go to the chiropracter 3x a week and get on the DRX9000- non surgical decompression which targets the part of your spine it is told too unlike traction) which when I was going regularly helped a little. But very pricy at $191 a visit.

I was rolled in the surgical room on a bed. Scared out of my mind and shaking, so they opted to put me out. I slept like a baby and woke up with low blood pressure which went up fairly quickly. Since Ive been home I have been in bed 95% of the time. The propofol made me queezy when I was coming down off it, but nothing too bad. Its now been 24 hours. The 2 times I did sit up to eat I felt maybe 20% better. I realize its way too soon. I have some pain where the injection sites are. And even now while lying in bed and typing I feel pain in my left leg thru to the calf and numbness in the left foot. I will update in a few days. Ive heard round two does the trick, but everyone is different, and my evil side says this is it for me, no relief, no light at the end of the tunnel. I plan on going to the store and getting supplies as we are expecting a storm to come in. I will let you know how that goes and give an update over the next few days if anyone is intersted..

Jodi 4 years ago

I got the ESI the other day. I am in B.C. and things are done differntly here. Went to orth clinic and sat in waiting room with a lot of folks just there for shot. When you are called you are brought into big room with many stalls with curtains. You just sit down, draw down your pants a little bit. Orthopedic surgeon comes in with needle that has freezing and cortisone in it and he just rubs a sterile wet pad on lower back area and injects needle. I was very afraid and asked if other people could go before me while I got up the nerve to go through with shot. Well finally did get courage together and it barely hurt at all and I have a huge needle phobia! I should mention that I had gotten the sciatic pain from my right leg (which was so severe I would be on floor crying most of days for almost a year) to leave by doing this following exercise at link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBOp-ugJbTQ. In order to do this exercise I prepared by icing over my L-5/s-1 herniated disc pain for 10 minutes every hour for almost one week (not sleeping hours)then I started very slowly doing this particular exercise. It is amazing how well they work. For for me it is a miricle! Anyway, I told orth doc I still was having numbness/tingling on outside of right leg down into ankle/foot and asked if shot would help for this. He honestly did not know, but assured me shot would not hurt current status of healing process I must be in if most of nerve pain running down leg has diminished so much. The shot has made me feel pins and needles. It is only day 2, but I feel as though my leg is weaker than before I had shot, but I am still doing my exercises 14-21 a day holding only for 30 seconds. I hope everyone here experiences positive healing with their pain. I feel for you all and wish everyone the best.

Jim Fahey 4 years ago


Just had epi three days ago,not going to good,however a slight improvement going to give it time.

The epi injection is a big nothing no pain a tall just do it ,if you have exhausted all other routes like i have.

I am just praying this works.

Seeing consultants this wed, so it will be interesting what they have to say,

I would just like to say to people suffering from this pain. you have my complete sympathy.and i wish you all a speedy recovery.

regards poor little me in shits loads of pain Jim

Tammy 4 years ago

I have had one ESI about 12 days ago and have had NO relief, if anything the pain is worse. I have a vertevral hemangioma. Has anyone ever heard of this? It causes me to be in alot of pain almost everyday. Called the Dr's office yesterday to see what the Dr says. I was extremely anxious about the procedure, my Dr. gives no local or anything. You are responsible for medicating yourself before and after the procedure...I took a xanax and a pain pill that I got from a friend just to help me relax. Overall, the procedure wasnt as bad as what I was anticipating. Im just ready for some relief, not sure what to do?

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@Jodi that think did not work for the exercise you were talking about van you repost?

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

Oops I meant 'link' not 'think' :)

Jodi 51 year old woman L-5 S-1 very large herniated disc compresssing nerve route S1 4 years ago

I iced for one week every 15 minutes before attempting those exercised because I was in so much pain, then I started them. I do about 6 sets of 10 everyday. They just get rid of my sciatica in right leg. I still have terrible nerve pain in butt and at sight of L-5 S-1 herniation. Since the damn cortisone ijection that was given way up on my back and no where near my herniated disc I have been experiencing terrible tingling and numness plus weakness in my right leg. I do not have a cane because I will not go there yet so use vacuum to lean on to get around. This numbness, tingling and weakness comes around after standing and doing regular household stuff. So after being up and around for 5 hours it starts and it is awful and scary.

My Family Dr. just told me to continue with exercises. I actually stopped them for one day to see if they were to blame for tingling/numbness/severe weakness in leg, but they were not responsible. IT IS THE CORTISONE that has wrecked havoc and started some weird stuff going on that I have not expereinced before to this terrible degree. I actually think the cortisone is irritating my nerves. I can actually feel my sciatica nerve being pinched in my butt/hip area when getting up from sitting. I really hate to sit now because I know it will come on and I hate the pinch I get.

IF you have tried the exercises for a bit and they are not helping I am sorry. It took at least 3 days for them to work for me. I started off doing 8 three times a day. I now do around 30 altogether in a day.

I also have a terrible neck injury from bilateral prolapsed disks in neck (also on right side) from 5 years ago that did not heal properly and always get muscle spasms in them when stressed or experiencing other nerve pain. These exercises kill my neck so I use my fingers to hold neck while bringing chest off floor. I never can get up too high becausse I cannot use arms/hands to spring up really high while leaving pelvis on floor. These are lower back extension exercises and are supposed to help stretch lower back and apparently they can help stop leg pain by stretching disc area tissues enough so it will help remove some of the nerve route pressue that is being compressed by disc jelly that has leaked out onto nerve.

I will not be getting another ESI. I am seeing the orth surgeon on Friday to hear some more of his grand ideas on what he thinks I should do next to relieve pain, numbness, tingling. My life is no longer a life. I cannot walk my dog, I cannot date, I cannot dance, I cannot do anything that I used to love and that made life worth living. I do not even think I have been living. It is more like I am just here trying to get through each day with pain. This is just existing in pain. It is really depressing and sad.

Again, I wish everyone the best and less suffering and more healing regarding their lives in pain.

ryan k. 4 years ago

I am a 33 y/o male and have D.D.D. at T11-T12 and facet hypertrophy at L5-S1. Had my first 3 rounds of Thoracic ESI Jan 2010, February 2010, and April 2010. Did nothing. Had nerve block at L5-S1 twice, 70% improvement. Started another set of Thoracic ESI yesterday, we'll see what happens. For all shots received, I had no sedation, only local anesthetic at the injection site. I'm not going to lie and say it didn't hurt, but after the procedures I simply got off the table and left. Took it easy for about 2 hours and then resumed normal activity. The way I see it, you have to think of it this way: is the juice worth the squeeze? If the temporary pain that you feel worth the assumed outcome of the injections? I think about all the pain that I have in my mid and low back everyday and all of the things that I can't do without feeling pain. If it works, I'd have the ESI done everyweek, if need be.

Doreen 4 years ago

i had my second epidural shot friday 3 weeks from my first shot. it seems to be working so far my first shot only took some pain away from the right lower back leaving my left side in alot of pain. my doctor shot the left side friday and it feels better its not completly gone but enough for me to start doing some abdominal exercises and some back exercises. i realize its best to try and do some home exercises on your own while the pain is down so when the injection wears off and it will you dont want to be caught with weak muscles. so the doctor told me to work my core alittle every day and work my back muscles every other day. yoga and pilates seems too intense for me so i will stick to some free weights. by the way here is my back drama c2-3,c3-4,c5-6,c6-7,c7-t1 disc herniations. my lower back has L1-L2,L4-L5,L5-S1 diffuse disc bulges with stenosis,anthrosis and reactive sclerosis an disc degeneration i have a hard life ahead of me. i'm a female age 46

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bjcatz25 4 years ago from Michigan

@Jodi....I got the link to work. These exercises are what I have been doing off and on for 2 years since I bought the McKenzie Method book for back and neck pain. I was told for me nothing would have helped my situation as I had a large ruptured disc and chiropractic care as well as theses exercises this time round made things worse once the disc ruptured and then during surgery finding a large piece had broken off(free fragment) as well. I feel your pain as life was no life for me either. I am now 7 weeks post-op and am headed back to work next week. Been a long winter for me drugged up with painkillers then ESI's and finally surgery. For me surgery was my only option for a possible chance at a somewhat normal life again. For me it was the answer but I believe I have post traumatic syndrome because every time I feel a twinge here or there my mind and body think "oh know I'm something is wrong" I still use ice and am careful. Neurosurgeon said "if you herniate it once you can herniate it again". So no bending lifting or twisting until he says.

Teresa 4 years ago

Hi just wanted to say I have had 2 shots done to my spine, and let me tell you the first one did not hurt to bad, but the pain came back within days, my second on was done yesterday and it was a nightmare, hopefully it get better.. I hope

nhocwc 4 years ago

Advice please:

I had an ESI 4 months ago for a herniated disc, and I think its time for another. My daughter will be married in 6 weeks and I'm wondering whether I will be ok if I get it done now. Or...should I just manage the back pain until after the wedding? I'm an active 56 YO and just don't know if there is a right choice for this. Advice/suggestions appreciated.

Rubynolegs 4 years ago


I read EVERY one of these posts and interesting reading it was. I live in UK and have had to fight for every bit of medical care i have paid for throughout my life. Things like throwing samples away as it costs money for the lab to test, cancelling appointments to Gastroenterologists and Colorectal Surgeons due to cost, but today i demanded a blood test and when the comment 'too much money' was thrown at me yet again, i reminded them that the Code of Practice for GP's stated that they were not allowed to mention tests or treatment in the same sentance as cost.(I had to go private for Bowel Cancer to be removed 2 years ago because they did not take it seriously)

In the case of my spine it was obviously the same story.

Referred to a Spinal, 3-4 months wait, called PA and asked how much wait as a private one off, and it came down to 3 weeks. Must have impressed him, as theESI (although i did not want it) was booked for 3 weeks later. Agreed as a means to the end really.

I had this 'painless' ESI on monday and I am worse than before. It was barbaric and I was virtually held down. No effective local and refused sedation. What age do we live in for goodness sake?? I did warn them i had a low pain threshold and a fear of the unknown and i would be 'vocal'. They chose not to pay me any mind.

I screamed like a stuck pig ALL the way through it...

And at the end of the day?? No change apart from I now have right leg pain which is new.

Got DDD, L4/L5 Prolapse and L5/S1 Stenosis.

This one is fired up for surgery as it has gone on in a big way for over a year and GP and A+E (x3 visits) told me to stop wasting their time. Then a different GP told me:

'Go have an MRI, you got a serious Spine problem there'

Thank god for that man after 20 years of intermittant attacks down my left leg and this final debilitating, almost paralising 'I cant cope anymore' episode.

All i want is my life back, see my children and grandchildren, visit my sons grave, support my other 20 year old getting ready for a tour in Afghanistan, and hopefully get my marriage back.

I know surgery is serious and that a fusion will restrict movement, but i am totally restricted now with dreadful pain and at least some of that pain will be reduced hopefully. I was disabled before this after a crash, but got about reasonably well with my carer, this however has reduced me into a cabbage, cant go anywhere as i have pain free spans of about 15-20 mins, and i cant get far in that time.

Good luck to everyone wherever you are in the world, and whatever treatment you chose. I am a firm believer in the fact that we know our own limits, and because of that, we know if we can slowly climb the ladder of treatments or fly to the top and have done with it.

Quality of life is ALL that matters. I am 61 coming on 35, and get asked for ID if i dare try to get a 'Pensioners' meal, which at least makes me laugh when i prove them wrong...I want some fun in my life again ;-)

Will be keeping up with you from time to time, again, good luck.

Debbie Anderson Locke 4 years ago

Can anyone please tell me how much an epidural injection will cost for a bulging disc? I do not have insurance. Thanks!

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

Debbie, that answer will vary according to different parts of the country, the doctor, hospital, etc. Too many variables. If you haven't had an MRI, the doctors might want you to have that, too. Since you said you have a bulging disc, you must have had the MRI already. If you don't have insurance and you're not on Medicaid, you can probably negotiate with the doctor. Have you tried other conservative means to deal with your pain, i.e., pain meds, exercises to strengthen your core, chiropractor? You might not need an ESI if the other methods could work for you.

Linda 4 years ago

Thanks for your hub! My husband has L4-L5 compression and disc displacement with Sciatica. 2 years ago he had a herniation in this area with some S1 involvement as well. He was on bed rest for almost 5 months with the most excruciating pain the first couple of months. By the time he finally got into the Pain Mgmt. Specialist it was 3 months later and the problem was resolving and the pain level was manageable with NSAIDS. He went through a lot of Vicodin and suffering the first time. This time he went to the Dr. before the pain reached the level it had before, though it was worsening over a period of months while he continued to work. I finally convinced him that he needed to go on bed rest to get better and has again been on pain meds to reduce the pain level and a pain patch. He is actually going to see the Neurosurgeon and Pain Mgmt. Dr. next week, which is only 2 months instead of three, though it is SLOWLY getting better. He has been extremely leery about the injections and the possibility of infection, but I think the input here will help him get over it, having read other's experiences. I told him I never wanted and epidural or a C-Section either, but when a baby is stuck over 24 hrs. and can't come out your attitude changes pretty quick. I could have kissed that anesthesiologist when he showed up and he couldn't get that needle in quick enough for me! I did experience some chill-like shaking, but none of the other symptoms that I knew very well, being an R.N. who floated between Nicu, L&D and Postpartum. I am hoping he will get some relief soon thanks to this page!

Josh 4 years ago

Hi everyone I had an MRI it showed disk bulge at l4/5 and s1 my doc performed an epidural I just was concerned he didn't use X-ray to guide the needle ( just did it by feel) and no monitoring of blood pressure, is this acceptable? I'm sure he knows what he is doing just everyone else seems to have had X-ray , look forward to a reply and wish everyone the best with there back pain

StillInPain 4 years ago

For Josh - good chance the fluoroscopy (diagnostic x-ray) was included as an "integral part" of your epidural (this is from an insurance Explanation of Benefits (EoB)).

Debbie - here is a run-down of doctor submitted charges for my treatment so far (my insurance had maximum charges by contract that reduced the charges a bit, but for 'retail', this will give you a ballpark) rounded to nearest $10 point (Northwest USA):

Doctor Visits: Initial-$350; MRI Read/Discuss Options-$230; 2-Week Post ESI Ckup-$165; +1 Month Ck-up-$165

MRI (Lumbar w/o contrast): $2,930

Epidural Procedure (2 points of Insertion) -

Facility Charge: $2,000/procedure=$4,000 total (insurance reduced the first one slightly and the second one by more than half because of being performed in the same setting at the same time)

Doctor Charge: $1,030/injection=$2,060; Fluoroscopy-$340; Anesthesia-$270

Physical Medicine (Therapy): $190 evaluation; $100/30 minute unit (started with 1 unit, now at 2 units per visit) - 1-2 visits per week - ~$500 now with another month+ to go)

I've also done chiropractic ($50/visit) and therapeutic massage ($100/90 minutes).

Finding a core strengthening program (i.e. Pilates) for back pain sufferers is highly recommended since lack of it is the root cause of most of the pain and suffering experienced. Doing the core exercises (especially the Pilates 'zip and hollow' - google this for full explanation and diagrams) along with biking (walking has brought up pain) has been the best combination for me so far.

Be sure to stay on the proper dosage of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - ibuprofen or naproxen) while you are recuperating to keep swelling down as much as possible, especially as activity (exercises, etc) increases - I have tried to ween a few times and only exacerbated the sensitive areas because I have lost the ramped-up dosage. Talk to a physician or trusted medical person about max dosages appropriate for your body weight - overdosing can affect your vital organs, but not taking enough is ineffective for pain management and recovery - finding the 'just right' makes the condition bearable.

In all of this, be sure to go in with your eyes open - identifying costs and negotiating prior to treatment. It will surely give you better leverage for savings then after-the-fact.

Wondering if others are experiencing similar costs - good luck to everyone on this learning journey we did not volunteer for!

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

Good answer, Stillinpain. For Josh, you may not have known that your doctor was using the fluoroscopy. You don't see it when you're on the table, since it's overhead.

Stillinpain, it's been awhile since I've had my ESI's. Since I live in the midwest, prices are probably cheaper. I've always had insurance, so I do not know how the business office negotiates with patients about the fees. I've heard other people say there is quite a reduction for patients who don't have insurance, but, of course, the charges come right out of your pocket. I wish the medical community didn't submit such inflated charges to insurance companies.

I'm currently seeing a chiropractor for my pain, since I'm opting not to have steroid injections. Steroid injections can cause damage to tissues/tendons over time.

I exercise as much as my body will allow (mostly walking and elliptical machine and bike at the gym). I do core strengthening exercises at home also. I think I'm doing okay for a 65 yoa female. I'm not a marathon runner or anything, but I probably wouldn't be anyway if I didn't have degenerative disc disease. I think the secret in dealing with pain is to be as active as you can. Keep moving! Sitting or lying around the house certainly isn't good for anyone.

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Barb 4 years ago

Ive been getting epidurals for 4 years now and sometime they make it worse and sometimes they don't take at all. Give it time because it really depends how inflamed the disc is. Be patient. It really sucks but it will eventually get better. Find the right pain management Dr. I had one dr that gave me no relief or hope and then had another that was great. This can ruin your days and life. Even in my worse flare ups i stay pain med free they are killing your insides. And to get off em is hell.

Jaye 4 years ago

Thanks so much for posting this. This is first and only thing I have found from a patient's perspective. Thanks for taking the time to post this and calm the nerves of a woman who is having this procedure tomorrow morning.

eagle ridge 357 4 years ago

I had my epidural steroid injection 7 days ago to treat severe sciatic pain. It was totally painless, except for a slight stinging from the initial freezing of the nerve area. I had no sedative or anything else. Total time about 8 minutes. 7 days later I still have sciatic pain, but about 50% of the severity before I went in. Doc said it takes 7-10 days to take full effect. Now I can do without pain meds. If the diminished pain persists I will ask for another injection. I refuse to have surgery unless as a last resort. Summary....it kinda worked for me, was painless and quick.

Thenfunddut 4 years ago




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terry c 4 years ago

I had 3 ESI's now. First one worked well for about 2.5 months. Second one did nothing. Had my 3rd one 2 days ago. Seemed to hit the right spot, but pain is coming back. I am just hoping & praying it gives me some relief for my vacation.

Am scheduled for a Laminectomy on August 10th. My quality of life in one year has gone from doing the Kansas half Ironman in June 11 to I can't even walk around the block with my 2 year old daughter. Please pray for me!! Thanks!

DonDavis 4 years ago

I had an ESI in 1993. The man did not use "Floroscopy" The pain was so great that I blacked out and would have fallen to the floor if he had not grabed me by the shirt. I was told that I had to take it or loose my job. I was a Tool Maker for Baker Hughes. The pain that man put me in has never left. I had my wife drive me to the ER. I was rolling around in the back of the car and screeming. Admitted to the hospital and put on morphine for a week, and it did not take the pain away, just made me forget who I was. After getting out of the hospital was called back in and told by the bird dog they sent to my doctors appointments that they wanted to do another. I thought that they were completly crazy. I tried explaining how the first one went, which im sure that they already knew, but she "The Bird Dog" kept telling me that if I refused medical treatment that I would loose my job. I had worked several years to get the Tool Makers position, it is the Best of the Best when it comes to machining. I had a wife and two small children to take care of and was assured that the first one was just a fluke and this doctor was more experienced at giving them. He did not use Floroscopy either but it did not hurt like the first one did, although it did not take away the pain that the first put me in. A week passed and I was called back in and told by the Bird Dog that they wanted to try and get rid of the pain with 4 nerve blocks. Man after all the pain that I was in I was ready for anything, it also caused me to start having seziures. Still holding my job over my head, I thru my hands up and said "Your suppose to be the doctors" lets do it if you really think it is going to help. I was straped down to a table where I could not move on my left side and with a machine the doctor ran 4 eight inch needles from my side all the way to my back. I was screeming the whole time. Im telling you people these doctors will torture you. Forget waterbording, just send them to these guys and they will get any information they want befor the first needle is removed. After that I was shuffeled from doctor to doctor, even thru physical theropy. I could do it as long as I was eating all the loratab that they were giving me, 100 every 10 days. After completing physical theropy they told me to return to work. I told the insurance lady that I did not think I could handel it and she told me just to try. Well I did and ended up having a seziure on the job because the pain was so great. Taken out in an ambulance. Called a day after getting out of the hospital by the insurance company and told to return to work the following monday or I would loose my job. I thought this has got to be a bad dream or something, they know I cant go back to work, I already tried. well come the next Monday which was only 4 days later a man showed up on my steps with my termination papers. And they did not terminate me due to medical, it was in-subordination which hit my 401K. It took from Apr 4 1993 till July of 1999 just to get them to court. Someone kept having the judges changed and it took over a year each time to get it put back into the orgional judges hands. I had already been thru the Social security system and on SSA for 2 years. Had to go before a Federal Judge to get that due to my age. and they still tried to denie that I was even injured. This whole thing started with a slip and fall. I rounded a corner and steped in some fluid that someone didnt bother to clean up. I broke my tail bone to a 45 degree angle and had blunt trama to my right kidney because the fixture I was taking out to a machine hit me in the side when I fell. I started passing blood a day or two later. But let me tell you here in Oklahoma they can and will do anything that they please. I wich to God that I had listened to my gut and just told them NO! I could have got another job with the experience that I had but I was making good money and had the best position a machinest could have. Now Baker Hughes is a world wide company making trillions every year but you get hurt working for them and you become a libality they will lidigate you untill you die. I did not even receive a settelment that was a forth of what I made annually. Ity was like a slap in the face after loosing 2 homes and everything I had worked for. They were ordered by the court to keep my pain managment doctor paied and my pricriptions. In the past 19 years I have had to take them back to court for cutting off my doctor twice and leaving me cold turkey. I have a hearing scedualed for the 30th of this month Aug because they want to settle outright, but I can not do that because medicare is bankrupt and there is no way if I have to have my kidney removed or surgery that I can pay the 20%. I have called my State Reps, the Oklahoma Insurience Comission, everyone that I know to call. The attornies in this state do not care to take someone that big to court they just want to make a quick settelment for a few quick dollars. I did not know how corrupt the courts, lawyers and doctors are. Im telling you they will lie to your face and not blink an eye. Good luck, but if they want to stick a needle in your back be ready for the pain if they miss and they do miss 50% of the time. Even using florocopy. I have recerched this now quite alot and the Epidurials are not going to fix you and could possibally leave you in worse pain than you already have. I have even read reports of people being paralized my them. So its your choice, dont let anyone tell you "You have to" because you dont. You have the last say as to what happens to your body, and a job is not worth the hell that I have been going thru for the past 19 years. God Bless and do som reserch. I sure wich that I had.

Grin and bearit;( 4 years ago

Hi all. I have spent a lot of time reading your posts. I know what it is like and share all of this with you. The hardest thing for me is that I look fine and people around me can't fully understand how I feel. I'm 35, used to love to surf, ride motorbikes, be active,...... I have three young children. I injured my back at work around 8 months ago. Disc prolapse l1s5 I think. I have chosen to stick with gym and physio. A specialist wanted me to have the injection at month 2 but I decided not too. After following physio and gyms instructions to the letter I had almost fully recovered by month 4. I returned to work full time and and within a week I relapsed to my original condition. It's now month 8 and the Doc is asking me to think about the injection. I can still walk ok, I can still stand and sit a while. My main problem is travelling in cars, for some reason cars make my pain flare up, the longer I spend travelling the worse I get. As an active person coming too terms with my condition mentally is almost a bigger problem than the symptoms, that include, numbness in my right leg, burning in my buttock, numb right foot and when the numbness and burn recedes- slight saddle numbness and pain in my lower back. My symptoms change almost daily but I usually sleep okay. I feel that if I am careful I can manage this and still lead a reasonable life compared to some of the other people that I have been reading about. Problem is I work an hour away and travelling makes me worse so I haven't been able to return to work. I would love to get better (wouldn't we all!) but I feel that the chances of a needle doing that are slim; and to hear of people putting up with worse pain frightens me as I have bad enough days as it is at times. I am still going to gym and working out at home. There are things I can't do but a lot I still can. I'm worried the needle might make me worse... So far from what I have read there seems to be little to gain for my situation and the risk of getting worse from it really turns me off the idea. If I was worse I would do it no worries, but for now I'm managing on anti inflammatory everyday (meloxicam ) and targin 10 (morphine) most days but not all. What would you do have the needle, or or stick with the fitness program that for now is showing little improvement? I will post again in future. I hope you all find some relief somewhere and wish you all the best of luck.

Tracy Grammer profile image

Tracy Grammer 4 years ago

Just reporting in that I had an L5-S1 ESI today. Scoliosis and old bulging discs finally got to me. Saw a new doc today, told him my story and showed him my films, and he said, "We can do this right now." I hemmed and hawed, I've been avoiding this for a good 6 or 7 years, but like everyone here I felt like I'd tried everything except the injection. I decided I had nothing to lose.

No lengthy paperwork, no detailed prep, I just unbuttoned the jeans and hopped up on the table with my belly on a pillow. Propped up my head so I could see the needle and my spine on the X-ray screen and reminded myself to breathe.

The numbing needle stung just as the doc said it would. He went in with a second needle that I did not feel. Third needle created a strange sensation down my tailbone but no stinging down the leg, which is what he anticipated. I secretly wondered if he missed his target. I never took my eyes off the X-ray and was very calm throughout.

I was woozy after. I just sort of layed there after they dressed the site and didnt really feel like getting up. Someone in this long line of posts mentioned contrast dye and if this was used, that's why. I have a sensitivity. It makes me feel full of clouds. I texted my fiance and said I felt violated. Yeah, that's weird I know. Contrast dye talking, if that's what it was.

I hung out on a table in another room for 10 minutes and stared at the acoustical tiles, waiting for my clouds to pass. The staff gave me some bottled water. When I felt ready, I got up, paid, got my scrip for scoliosis-specific PT, and drove myself home. Took a little nap and here we are about 12 hours later.

My pain is about the same at this point. A few little twinges moving around but that's my normal. Nothing super strange to report. I walked home from dinner out tonight and felt good. I always feel better when I'm moving.

I should add that in addition to this treatment and the PT I'm about to have, I also found a private yoga instructor who is helping me with scoliosis-specific exercises and personalized modifications for poses. I've been doing that for about 3 weeks and it's made me feel stronger and more balanced.

I'll check in again, even if nothing much happens. Let's hope for better than that though!

Thanks for all the sharing...tg

Tracy Grammer profile image

Tracy Grammer 4 years ago

Checking in, as promised.

Twenty hours or so after my ESI I felt great. I woke up without pain, drove without pain, sat flat on the seat without hitching up my R hip to avoid the old SI crunch, and that deep hip burn.

Over the course of the day, pain came and went. Just a bit. I had to do some extra driving today and my hip was annoyed. However, I am now sitting at my desk and feeling comfortable.

All in all, happy I took the leap. Wonder how tomorrow will be!

thyroideyes46 4 years ago

Tracy, I'm so surprised that your doc did the steroid injections right there in his office. I have to make appmt w pain clinic, have someone take me, stay there, and take me back home again. It's very inconvenient. I wish my doctor would do that. I bet the yoga instructor will help you out a lot. I do a few yoga poses when I'm doing my stretching/flexibility exercises. Yoga strengthens your core muscles, which help you with posture, and, like you said, help you stay more balanced.

Tracy Grammer profile image

Tracy Grammer 4 years ago

thyroideyes46 -- I know! I had mixed feelings about that... like, isn't this a bit haphazard? The guy hardly knows me and didn't even really lay a hand on me or go over papers in front of me. I scanned the docs related to preparation and really hadn't done anything to jeopardize the procedure so we all just went for it. I got the sense this happens often there.

This is my third morning post-ESI and I woke up delightfully pain-free again but do have some wraparound hip pain now, which is my sciatica coming back in little flashes. A friend forwarded a link to Dr. Sarno's book on getting rid of back pain (he believes it's tension myositis caused in part by stifled anger or other strong emotions) so I've been thinking today about issues that could be adding to my stress. It was interesting to notice that as soon as I set about doing that work in my journal this morning, pain flared up and I was tempted to get up and move and, literally, walk away from it. But this is the body's trick, says Sarno. Body generates pain as a distraction from those things we don't want to face. I tried facing things. At moments I felt the pain dissipate. Now, at my desk, which is the most stressful place in the house, I've got a decent burn going on. I'm not going to make any big noise about it; just notice it and keep working. My theory is that if I face my long-term (long-avoided) projects and also deal with some emotional stressors, I might be able to help keep this back pain at bay. Now that I know how good it can feel, I'm extra motivated.

I am still sitting easier than I was. Still happy to have had the shot. Still doing my yoga too. Of course.

Tracy Grammer profile image

Tracy Grammer 4 years ago

Well, that was a good week mostly without pain, but I have to admit it's creeping back in. The hip burn, the L4-L5 stuff. Waking up is still easier than it was, and I am so grateful for that. I continue to try to sit through it, and that is working. I am also icing again. Nobody wants to ice in winter, but I think I have to :). On the whole, trying not to let pain take center stage here. There is much to be done! Yoga is going well. I could be walking and moving more. Blessings and good health to us all.

JodieOtte 3 years ago

Well, I'm glad you were without pain for your procedure. I had so much anxiety (not about needles but about being "held down, controlled, or being vulnerable), and they had to give me a little Versed to take the edge off of my anxiety so I could lie there. They numbed me, but when the needle hit the area of the nerve, I felt it and if it weren't for the Versed, I probably would have come up off the table. The pain shot all the way down to my foot.... and it was BAD. You can read the entire experience at www.ouchisanunderstatement.wordpress.com

Tracy Grammer 3 years ago

Inspired by JodieOtte to post again. Today I am of the opinion that I would not do the steroid shot again. In the weeks following my injection, I had the worst flu of my life and then I broke out in eczema, which I've never had before. I'm of the opinion that the steroids undermined my immunity in a major way. I am taking a different tack toward health now, focusing on a detox and then an anti-inflammatory diet to keep the swelling that creates pressure on the nerve from creeping back in. I just watched "Food Matters" (highly recommended!) and believe that while my back pain has a physical component -- and the scoliosis certainly isn't going away any time, ever -- I can improve my health just by making wise, non-toxic food choices, drinking more water, exercising regularly and balancing stress. And ... if you all ever have a chance to try Vipassana meditation, you'll learn a lot about what pain is, and what it is not. Changed my life. Wishing us all a reduction in pain and stress, and more joy. Heavy on the joy! xo

Flossie 3 years ago

I have been going for pain management for a little more than a year. I get one injection in my hip and six weeks later I get 3 small injections in and around my sacroiliac joint. The pain I was in before was awful. I am pain free and have been since the first injection. I recommend it for anyone who has bulging discs or any other issues resulting in back and hip pain. I was also getting this feeling of severe squeezing in my groin, which the doctor explained was due to sacroiliac issues, hence the shot in the joint. The small amount of discomfort from the injections is minor compared to the severe pain before. Well worth it.

oby4ever1 3 years ago


Raaj 3 years ago

I m suffering from back pain for 2 years . I m getting 3rd injection next week. After reading all coments i came up with conclusion ..there is no treatment of herinated disc. We all will suffer in pain for the rest of life :(

Marcus 3 years ago

Hello all. I found this post interesting.

A bit about my condition: I am currently 34 years old and have chronic back and hip pain. Some days the pain is so acute that I cannot stand up straight, sit in a chair or even dress myself. I was told at a young age that I had mild Scoliosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoliosis). However, all of my pain generates from 2 herniated disks at the L3-L4 & L4-L5 levels. This is causing impingement on the left root nerve at the L5 level and causing Sciatica down my left leg. Funny thing is, I have never been injured. The slew of doctors that I've seen since 2007 tell me that my condition is degenerative and I am not a candidate for surgery because my condition is “mild”.

On more than one occasion, I have considered driving my car off of a bridge and plunging it into the river below, just to end the suffering. I wouldn’t call that “mild” pain.

I have been diagnosed with the following over the past 6 years:

• Degenerative Disc Disease (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerative_disc_dis...

• Fissures in several discs (http://www.espalda.org/english/divulgativa/dolor/c...

• Herniated discs (http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/herniated-disc-t...

• Schmorl's nodes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmorl's_nodes)

• Pinched nerve at the L5 level, T7 level and C3 level (http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/compres...

• Spinal Stenosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinal_stenosis)

• Inflamed SI Joint (http://www.medicinenet.com/sacroiliac_joint_pain/a...

• Sciatica (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sciatica)

• Vertebral Compression Fractures (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compression_fracture)

• Possible hip dysplasia which hasn’t been confirmed yet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_dysplasia_(human)...

Procedures I’ve had since 2007:

• 7 MRIs (only 1 with contrast)

• 2 Electromyography tests

• 4 epidurals directly into the spine

• 1 facet injection directly into the spine

• 1 Myelogram w/CT scan and spinal tap

• Multiple X-rays (bending and prone)

• Physical therapy

• Acupuncture

• Chiropractic adjustments

Home remedies I’ve tried:

• Heat

• Ice

• Ointments

My experience with the epidurals was far from painless. The procedure itself was painful every time without exception. However, the 1st epidural relieved my pain for nearly 2 weeks! I felt like a new man that had been granted a second chance at life. The 2nd epidural relieved my pain for 2 days. The 3rd and 4th epidurals did nothing to relieve my pain, much like the facet injection which actually increased my pain level.

I’m now told that I may have Hip dysplasia, which could have either been caused by my extensive back problems or may have caused some of my back problems. X-Rays revealed something wrong with my left hip socket. The radiologist demanded multiple times that I lay flat for the X-rays. I explained to her that I was laying flat. She came over to confirm. This was my 1st red flag. The Orthopedic specialist recommended a guided injection directly into the hip socket, to determine if the pain resides locally or if the problem is more severe and radiates from elsewhere.

I have heard from other Ortho specialists that these guided injections are now frowned upon due to causing bone degeneration. Has anyone heard of that?

Marcus 3 years ago


What are the disadvantages and side effects of cortisone injections?

Disadvantages of cortisone injections are the necessity of piercing the skin with a needle as well as potential short- and long-term side effects. It should be emphasized that though each of these side effects is possible, they usually do not occur.

Short-term complications are uncommon but include shrinkage (atrophy) and lightening of the color (depigmentation) of the skin at the injection site, introduction of bacterial infection into the body, local bleeding from broken blood vessels in the skin or muscle, soreness at the injection site, and aggravation of inflammation in the area injected because of reactions to the corticosteroid medication (postinjection flare). Increased pain after the injection is typically due to a postinjection flare as a true allergic reaction to cortisone is very rare. Tendons can be weakened by corticosteroid injections in or near tendons. Tendon ruptures as a result have been reported. Facial flushing may occur in up to 40% of cases but lasts only briefly. Sweating and insomnia are uncommon.

In people who have diabetes, cortisone injections can elevate the blood sugar. In patients with underlying infections, cortisone injections can suppress somewhat the body's ability to fight the infection and possibly worsen the infection or may mask the infection by suppressing the symptoms and signs of inflammation. Generally, cortisone injections are used with caution in people with diabetes and avoided in people with active infections. Cortisone injections are used cautiously in people with a bleeding disorder.

Long-term risks of corticosteroid injections depend on the dose and frequency of the injections. With higher doses and frequent administration, potential side effects include thinning of the skin, easy bruising, weight gain, puffiness of the face, acne (steroid acne), elevation of blood pressure, cataract formation, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), and a rare but serious type of damage to the bones of the large joints (avascular necrosis).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/4/2012

EpiVictimsMom 2 years ago

My 33-yr-old son had 3 sessions (2 epidurals & a 3rd 'surprise' of 9 injections he wasn't expecting). He had been told to expect the typical protocol of 3 epidurals spaced over the period of about a month. When receiving whatever chemical cocktail was contained in the 'mystery' injections. His also 33-yr-old physiatrist describes himself as the doc people go to see when the other docs don't have answers. I think he experimented on my son & now my sweet eldest child has nerve damage so severe from the top of his left leg all the way to the tips of his toes. It's been so bad, he had to buy a new truck as the pain was too great to push on the clutch of his previous vehicle. My son was being treated for 2 bulging and 1 torn disc. Injection 2 worked well enough that my son was hopeful, working out and feeling less pain than he'd had in a long time. Then came the Chemical Cocktail by "Dr. Frankenstein" who claims the 9 epidurals given within a 10 minute period COULDN'T have caused the nerve damage to my son's left leg because my son didn't get a headache. The headache would've been "proof," according to this maniacal doctor. Doc is now suggesting yet another epidural nerve-blocking injection, and my poor son is considering having it done in 3 days as he's so desperately in agony and has had horrific nightmares since he received what should only have been the 3rd and LAST SINGLE (not nine!) EPIDURAL. Please learn from this experience and take someone with you to watch what the heck is going on! Not all doctors are reputable and some are out to make a name for themselves as The Healer Of All Back Pain. My son did see another physiatrist, but since he was also in our town, Doc #2 wouldn't say anything negative about a colleague. My husband and I are desperately praying that our son won't ever go back to Doc #1, begging him to see a neurologist prior to receiving ANY further epidurals (nerve-blocking or otherwise) as we're terrified of the potential harm it may cause to him. At this point, our son is hearing only the promise of the doctor who has harmed him as he's the only one promising to magically take his pain away. We are asking for prayer from ANYONE reading this for our sweet son, who's also a young husband and father of 2 boys. Please pray for CHAD. Thank you!!!

Tim 2 years ago

Thank you for this site and to many who have shared their storeis. Mine is the classic "afraid of needles/need the injection" story. im sceduled this week for the shot at c6/c7. feeling much better abouyt it all after reading this site. thanks again.

iam2jung4this 2 years ago

I have 3 herniated discs but have been told that I should try ESI's and PT before considering surgery. So yesterday my neurosurgeon has scheduled me for 3 ESI's each scheduled one week apart. Here is my question- isnt that too close together?

Jeannie 2 years ago

At the age of 18 I was in a car accident that now at the age of 52 has left me with 14 herniated/bulging discs from the neck down. Have had 3 back surgeries...fusion of the SI joint(right side) Posterior endoscopic discectomy at L4-5 and anterior cervical microforaminotomy at C5-6. The last 2 surgeries were done within the last 5 years with great temporary results. Although I new it was a temporary fix I also new it was my only option. Having multiple herniations, a fusion at any level would put stress on the level above & below, having issues throughout my spine I can't afford that risk. So, now I'm having ESI's again and I go when ever I have a flare up. Usually the injections help ease the pain for up to 6 months at times. I had one a week ago in my neck and unfortuneately am still in unbearable pain. I will go back for another in a week. The point to my rambling is this....there is NO fix for back pain. There are several different "band-aids" and the least invasive the better

oby 2 years ago

Im2young4this... I'm 39 years old, before the EPI, I tried a contraction table for two weeks and it really helped to get rid of the pain down my leg, however I still took the shot because I had some pain in my hip as well and I wanted to figure out if the pain was caused by my two bulged, herniated discs. Now I'm using a inversion table do contraction on my back and so far (two weeks) has been one of the best investments I ever made.

nikki 2 years ago

I had the exact same experience, no gown, just pulled down my pants and laid there. I have low back pain and meralgia paresthetica(im sure i butchered the spelling), its pain that runs down my right leg and is horrible. I have had 4 injections now and the first one wasn't too bad but they have been getting increasingly painful with each visit. I had my fourth done today and i felt like i was going to die, i was literally screaming, he had hit a nerve and it sent a fireball of pain down my leg. Please let me know how your future visits turn out, im afraid to get anymore injections done and sadly they only improve my pain by around 40% and lasts only 3 weeks max. It is some improvement but i fear whats next to come. Take care and all the best of luck to you.

iam2jung4this 2 years ago

So I had my first injection last Thursday. I was out cold about 3 mins after they gave me the anesthesia in my IV. I went to sleep with a pain level of about a 6 out of 10, I woke up 30 mins later and felt like a new person. No pain at the injection site, in fact the worst part was them putting in the IV. I still have numbness in my left leg and hip but the throbbing and burning pain is gone. I actually cried tears of happiness Thursday night because I couldn't believe how great it felt to be pain free. I still notice a little pain after sitting and have started noticing a slight pain still in lower back and in the front of my right hip but nothing compared to what it was. I have my second injection tomorrow morning and I am so excited that this has worked for me. Hopefully it lasts and I can avoid the surgery. Good luck to everyone. To Nikki I would say find a doctor that will do the injection as a day surgery in the hospital with anesthesia- I shouldn't have to be awake to feel that pain of the ESI!

deby5 2 years ago

I decided to have the Transforaminal injection due to the pain and thought I could minimize the amount of pain pills I was taking in a day. I was referred by my M.D. to this pain management doctor, filled out all the paperwork, and there was a lot about your medical history. After looking at my MRI from about a year ago, they told me they had the time that day to give me an injection. The doctor talked with the P.A. and they discussed the location of the injection. He wanted to inject T12 & L1 area. I agreed to go along and thought it was going to be the best for me. My blood pressure was very good, at the time of my appointment, so they didn't take my blood pressure again, or any vitals. I went into the surgical room, dropped my pants down around my butt and pulled my top up around my upper back. The assistant was in charge of the Fluoroscopy machine, which is a live X-Ray machine. The doctor came in, gave me a little pinch for numbing the area for the injection. I barely felt it. After a few minutes, he injected the needle and I felt nothing again. He had the assistant move the Fluoroscopy machine quite a bit to get the angle he wanted. He told me I was quite twisted inside and that the original T12, L1 shot was not an option now. He was going to do L1, L2 instead. I have osteoporosis and 3 herniated disks. I'm a 62 female. He told me that he was going to go deeper in with the needle and I might feel a sting and to let me know if it was painful and where I felt the pain. I did feel a very painful sensation thru the injection site and thru the top of my right hip. I had wished I had something to squeeze it was so painful, I did a long moan to help me thru the pain. After it was over, they helped me up off the table and after a minute was led to the post sitting area where I took a chair. I sat there for a couple of minutes and the doctor came out and handed me a piece of paper telling me that was the procedure he'd preformed and that if it didn't help he'd do an epidural. As I was standing there listening to him talk to me and I became all of a sudden clammy and quite light headed/dizzy. I thought I was going to get sick, I sat down for a second, thought I'd go to the ladies room, thinking I was going to get sick, and I didn't make it 2 steps. I bottomed out, passed out, fainted whatever you want to call it, and I didn't see it coming, I'd never had that feeling before, I just thought I was going to get sick. I came to with about 5 people over me, saying her pulse is 45 and her oxygen level is coming back. They had a blood pressure cuff on me too. They were giving me smelling salts to bring me back. I was in shock, I didn't know what had happened. They told me they had told me to sit there for at least 5 minutes. After I came back and was feeling much better, maybe 10 minutes went by, the doctor asked me why I got up and that they had wanted me to stay seated. I told him I felt like I was going to get sick and was going to the ladies room. I sat there for another 45 minutes and asked for a glass of water, I felt very warm. As I was leaving the doctor told me he was afraid I would feel more pain than before due to my fall. I thought to myself, I hope not. I left and was very glad I was close (within 5 minutes) to where I was staying. I was still in pain, just holding my back where the injection was. I just wanted to go lay down. It took me nearly 10 minutes to even get out of the car, the sharp pain was almost unbearable, now I know who an elderly person feels that falls and can not get up...Helpless. I was all alone in this garage, hoping to get to the bedroom to lay down. I finally made it, not without pain, but got there and I was happy the bed was a high bed. My friend got home and saw me and called 911, he was terrified and thought I wasn't going to make it. They took my B.P. and it was 166, high yet they told me due to the pain, that's pretty normal. I elected not to go to the hospital, I knew I wasn't going to die, nor did I want to be laid up in some hospital stuck there for who knows how long. The pain was almost as great as when I had my one and only child, I wish I could have had an epidural to ease the pain, but the injection caused my pain. This pain lasted 3 days, I lay in this bed uncomfortable and in pain. Continued taking pain pills, barely touching the pain. Managed to sleep some but was praying the pain would eventually go away. Gradually the pain got less every day. After a week had gone by, the pain was still there but wasn't as severe. I could get around and go to the bathroom unassisted. This happened April 28th 2014 and I'm walking around well, sitting is not good. If I bend over or sit a certain way or move a certain way, a very sharp pain shoots in my back, around the injection site. It sends me to freeze mode. I'm hoping this does go away in time, a friend of mine has had numerous shots and says within a month it should totally go away. If it doesn't I just don't know what to do. I do wish I'd never had this injection done. I'd rather take the pain pills for the rest of my life and have mobility and not worry if the pain was going to spike, when or where. I'm going to a different doctor on May 22nd to show him my new MRI and compare it to the 2013 MRI and see if he sees a difference or can help me with what happened to me. I've been on the computer googling sites to find answers, most say injections are very common and no one has talked about the pain I'm experiencing. It's a mystery to me.

I hope anyone reading this makes sure their doctor has a good reputation, not that mine didn't, he was referred. I think everyone has different reactions to any medication or injection. I will report in another month and I'm hoping my pain has totally gone away.

Think twice before you take any injections in your back, pain pills aren't that bad, they can kill your liver and kidneys but the pain in your back due to an injection that's supposed to take the pain away and doesn't is another story! Good Luck!!

ly720 2 years ago

I had an ESI almost two weeks ago. It did wonders for the first week, but at the end of the first week my pain is back and as bad as it ever was. I was actually seeing a little relief before the ESI, now at least as bad as the pain that sent me the to the doctor in the first place. I've moved my 2-week follow up appointment up so I can see what the doctor suggests to relieve the pain. My question...for anyone who had good results with the first that didn't last long (like my one week of relief), did the second help more? It was great thinking I was better...now I'm a little concerned. Three shots a year with only a week of relief each time isn't much to look forward to!

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Melissa Dingee 2 years ago

I had an injections 3 wks ago not only did it not help but the injection it's self was very painfull I'll not do it again so the Dr is referring me to a pain maintenance Dr. I have a herniated L5/S1. I had the injections years ago and the last 2 also did not help but I told the Dr I'd try it once more but as I said it was no help just caused me pain during the proceedure.

Lana 2 years ago

Hey I've just got a quick question I've prolapsed a disc in my back and I'm only 12 yrs of age, we've been through all the physio and back specialist and he's said to get a local into my back. Does it hurt. I'm really scared.

Melissa Dingee 2 years ago

Lana the thing that makes the pain worse is the fear of the thought each person is different like for me yes it hurt but for someone else it might not

Lana 2 years ago

Yea I'm sure ur right. Besides it's for the best thanks for the message. :)

Lucy 2 years ago

Hey guys found this awesome site, I've been meaning to ask has anyone had a nerve root sleeve injection into there back that could tell me about their experience as I'm getting one on Saturday so I'm just wondering if it helped you or made things worse? Thanks

Jero 2 years ago

I had the epidural steroid injection today in L4 prolapsed disc. I have been told if this doesn't work I can have 1 more attempt, after that I will need back surgery.

I had a local anesthetic before the spine nerve block, which was fine. I have had that many blood tests etc, so this was nothing.

when it came time for the nerve spine block, I experienced pain on a scale like nothing before. Recently I had stoma h surgery, I have had kidney stones, many stitches etc, but nothing came close to the excruciating pain I suffered. One doctor had to hold me down, as I started thrashing round, while I was required to be still with the CT scanner guiding the position of the needle. Shortly after this I fainted and came too with some very concerned doctors looking on.

I have to go back again in 6 days for a general pain relieving epidural, and I pray to God that I don't suffer the same pain again.

kelly 2 years ago

WHY do you people not do research before you let drs do these things to you?!! The FDA has hundreds of warnings aboutt these shots to the spine which can cripple or kill you.Research shows NOT AT ALL useful for long term pain and will cause far more harm than goo

Lucy 2 years ago

Can the doctors give you a IV for the injection? And does an iv hurt?

Lucy 2 years ago

Hi guys just had my nerve sleeve root injection. It went really well, they just got me to lie down on the ct scanning table and did a few scans then the doctor came in explained the procedure and then began. He injected the local anaesthetic and some dye to clarify the position, then they moved it around a couple of times and once I got the shock in my but we knew it was in the right place! They put in the epidural and my leg went very heavy, i mean very heavy! But it doesn't hurt it just feels weird! I haven't felt any difference yet but he said it takes a couple of days to work he said. Hopefully this works as my parents r getting worried that I'll need an opp and at the age I'm at this isn't looking good, I haven't been able to do any school P.E for months now and I just really need this to work! I'll lower posted and let u know how I'm doing!

Thanks Lucy

lundoj 2 years ago

I had injections first the did a lumbar which was the wrong one so I had to get back up on the table to get the epidural one and they punctured my epidural sack I couldn't get out of bed fluid leaking in my spinal column head hurt so bad I cried non stop for a weak and I had a 1 yr old at home then I had to go back in for a blood patch still have issues til this day

Omer zaman 16 months ago

L4 L5 my disk problem and very high pain so you have help to me on my number 00971527906420

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Carheart84 7 months ago

I was glad to read this I go in in about 10 days to get an injection in my back I have a very tender spine and other medical problems so to hear that this is a big deal was good but I still worry about having any reactions to the medication

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