View Full Version : Torn Disc...Cortizone Shot...Anyone else?
December 2nd, 2003, 11:09pm
Had a MRI on Monday and went to the specialist today. I have a torn disc in my back. They want me to have a cortizone epidural shot and wear a corset and see if that will help before we talk about surgery. I have had back pain on and off for about 13-14 years and the last few years it has just gotten worse.
I would just like to know if there is anyone else out there that has had one of these shots in their back and how it was for them.
Needless to say I am so scared at this moment, I hyperventilate at the site of needles. I know some will just call me a big baby and yes, I do feel that I am one when it comes to needles, I have just had so many surgeries and pain in my life (and I am only 33) that I should be ammuned to them but I am not....it scares me to death.
So anyone with advise PLEASEEEEEEE post...Thank you very much.
December 3rd, 2003, 7:58am
Can't help with your question but wanted to let you know that I am
wishing you a speedy (and painless as possible) recovery. :)
December 3rd, 2003, 7:57pm
Nickyle, I had those shots in January and February of 2002. They worked pretty well for me and I felt really good for about two weeks. Remember when you get it done that you're still not supposed to go wild and start lifting everything in sight.
Mine only lasted those two weeks, so I had to have surgery on my back (May 2002). I'd try the shots again in a minute, though. Because they just might work and you might be able to avoid surgery.
BTW, you don't actually see the needle unless you look for it. It does sting, but the pain isn't that bad.
(Yes, I had a ruptured disc in my back, too. It was at L5-S1.)
December 9th, 2003, 12:58pm
Wow, does this sound familiar! I have a herniated disc in my lower back and I was treated with a series of three epidural steroid injections, so I think I'm in a pretty good position to answer this one.
First of all, I totally understand where you're coming from about needles, and the epidural needle is nothing to sneeze at. I think it's even more scary because you can't see what's happening back there, and sometimes the imagination makes things worse than they actually are. Anyway, during my first epidural I was seated forward in a chair and hooked up to a blood pressure machine. First the anesthesiologist injected some lidocaine solution into the area. He or she will tell you that this is the most painful part of the procedure, and that's true. Lidocaine, especially injected that deep, burns quite a bit but only for a short time. After that all you'll feel is pressure, which is unpleasant, but not painful. I freaked out because of the way they described how the needle goes into the epidural cavity and my blood pressure went nuts. I nearly threw up and I have never done that during a medical procedure before. The next two times I was lying down, which helped enormously, so if you're able to do that, I would recommend it (some doctors actually require this, based on the way they perform the procedure--whether or not they use a fluroscopy to guide their movements). If they'll allow it, I would also recommend asking for a mild sedative of some kind. They wouldn't give me one, but some doctors will. If they're going to inject Fentanyl (a potent painkiller) along with the steroid, you should consider taking a Benadryl or other antihistamine before the procedure (although you should of course consult your doctor before taking anything). First of all, it will help relax you; and second, it will prevent the intense itching that Fentanyl produces as a side effect in some people. Be sure you also eat a good meal before the injection. I made the mistake of not eating before my second injection and after the procedure my blood pressure bottomed out (and I already have low blood pressure, 90/70 last time it was taken), which gave the nurses a serious scare because I was reeling and came close to blacking out before they made me eat some crackers and get some sugar in my system.
For me the worst part of the whole ordeal came hours later, after the Fentanyl wore off. Before I forget, though, I should mention that Fentanyl will really throw you for a loop (it's 100 times more potent than heroin) and you should have someone there with you at all times because walking (and other, more embarrassing functions) becomes a real challenge until the narcotic wears off. I had trouble getting up the stairs to my apartment; my husband had to help me bend my legs. Anyway, once the drug wears off, some people (like me) experience "rebound" pain, which is basically the same back pain you've been having times 100. Again, be sure someone is with you because if this happens you won't be able to do anything--and I do mean anything--for yourself. Ask your doctor (even if it's after hours, you can usually have him or her paged) for something mild for the intense muscle spasms. He or she probably won't give you a narcotic again but I was prescribed Valium and for some reason it was the only thing that helped me at all. The pain (if you get it, not everyone does!) will last the rest of the night and the best thing you can do is try to get some sleep.
Okay, the yucky part is over. After the first injection you may or may not experience some relief, but if you're like me you definitely will after the second. After the third (if it even gets to that--if your relief is significant they may not think it's necessary to give you a third), if you're like me you'll start to experience significant relief that only gets better. Now, not everyone responds to epidural injections, as Mary Beth has indicated, and how long the relief lasts--if it does at all--is very individual. Mine lasted the better part of a year, although I would still get twinges every now and then, but NOTHING like before. Some people's pain goes away completely. Mine didn't, and one of these days I expect I'll end up getting back surgery, but I'd like to avoid that as long as possible (I'm only 27). If the injections work you might feel good enough to go to a physical therapist, who can help you strengthen the muscles in your back.
A word of caution about steroids: You will probably gain weight. I was ravenously hungry and gained like 20-30 pounds while on steroids. You may also experience hot flashes and periods of irritability. One thing you should definitely be concerned about is the decreased immunity steroids cause. I caught absolutely every little cold and flu that came along because my immune system had been so weakened. So limit your contact with sick people as much as you can and take extra precautions with regard to hygeine.
Sorry to have written a book on this. If you do want to talk more about it, though, please feel free to PM and/or email me anytime. I hope I helped alleviate your fears somewhat and although you're probably still pretty apprehensive (I know I was!), keep in mind that this could provide you with the relief you've been seeking, and if it does, then it will be worth the hassle it took to get there. If not, at least you'll know you've exhausted all conservative means (although there's a new one I can tell you about, if you're interested), which is important, because back surgery is a serious undertaking. Best wishes to you and I hope you feel better very soon. :gvibes:
December 23rd, 2003, 4:45pm
Rapunzel676, I never saw your post until just now....thank you for writting your "book"...I enjoyed reading what you had to say.
I went back to find this post because I had my epidural shot this morning at 8am. I went into the room, I am scared of IV's because of past experiences (once had to be poked 5 times with the numbing and the IV needle and they still couldnt find the vein to get it into, I had a hard quarter size lump on my hand that was sore for over 8 months)...anyway....I told the lady about this and I have to say she was wonderful. I only jumped a little with the numbing needle and that was it...she got it in on the first try. After that the doctor came in and did a few tests on me (reflexes, motion, etc..)...then it was off to another room. In this room I laid down on my stomach on a hump, my face was settled into a massage like position, a blood pressure thing on my leg. The table was a xray machine so I got to see my spine on the monitor. I was talking away to the nurse when the doctor came in, I remember her putting stuff into my IV and the doctor saying that he was cold washing my back....and that is it, I remember NOTHING else except for her telling me to get up and that it was over. Reason for all of this is because they gave me a drug that causes temporary amnesia....and WOOHOO that is good stuff, I never felt NO PAIN at all...biggest pain was the IV and that wasnt bad at all. So if I end up having to have another shot I am not feared now...they were all very nice.
They said it would take 3-5 days before I notice the cortizone starting to work and I have a follow up appointment in 2 weeks...if it didnt work I will get another shot but I am hoping and praying that it did and I will have some relief of this pain.
Thank you to everyone that responded, I have cried so many tears over my pain and am so glad this is done and over with and that I came out of it a trooper.
December 23rd, 2003, 7:38pm
Great!! I really hope that this is going to help you. I know what a torn disc feels like and it's not fun at all! I really learned a lot about pain and pain meds when mine was ruptured.
I'm so happy that it didn't hurt you to have the shot!
December 25th, 2003, 1:58am
So glad to hear that you didn't have to suffer during the shot and hope you are feeling great again very soon. Sending lots of :gvibes: :gvibes: :gvibes: your way!
December 28th, 2003, 4:17am
Nickyle, you are so welcome and I'm glad that the procedure went so smoothly! I wish something like that had been offered when mine was done. Anyway, hope you're feeling better now and if you ever want to chat about back problems please feel free to PM or email me anytime. :gvibes:
January 10th, 2004, 9:52pm
I too had the shots twice-first time it helped for about a month, then the second time six days. I damaged the nerves in my back as well so if it isn't the disc pain it's the nerve pain.(I caught a 280lb woman who was about to fall-all 110lbs of me!). I use a tens unit for the nerve pain-oxycodone for the disc pain and anti inflammitories and muscle relaxatants. I refuse surgery-which is just because I'm too scared.
January 11th, 2004, 8:59am
You can ask for EMLA and your doc will usually give you a script for it. EMLA is a numbing cream that must be applied two hours before the procedure, either in a disc form or cream with a tegraderm dressing. IT REALLY WORKS I have used it before mole removals and you cannot feel them give you the numbing shots (yes, they will still numb the deeper tissues, you just don't have to feel that most painful part). If you are having a back procedure, have them draw a circle with a sharpie so someone can put the EMLA in the right spot. I will never suffer those numbing needles again because I always ask for the EMLA before the procedure.