Steroid injections

This is my first time on this site and I am glad to see there is somewhere where I can ask some questions. Thought I would let you know what my diagnosis is.

L4-5 DDD near complete loss of disc space Bulging disc osteophyte complex is present to a moderate degree with some narrowing og the right lateral recess. Facet joint osteoarthritis is present to a moderate degree. Right lateral recess the traversing nerve however may be in contact with bulging disc osteophyte complex.

L2-3 bulging disc material is present to a mild degree. Mild facet joint hypertrophy.

L3-4 bulging disc material is present to a mild degree. Bilateral moderate facet joint hypertrophy is present Disc height is mildly reduced. No foraminal stenosis or central canal narrowing No nerve root compression visualized.

I have had 2 steroid injections 1st one I got about 2 or 3 days relief and the second one gave me no relief. They mentioned doing a Rhizotmy but they may want to do another injection to see if I get some relief . If I don't then they may not do the Rhizotmy but now I am thinking what will happen next if I cant have that done. I have been suffering with this for about 40 yrs and am on 4 different meds.

Could anyone give me some ideas about what to expect or if you are suffering from similar symptoms could you let me know how you deal with this. I am about at the end of my rope.



16 Replies

  • Sounds like your spine has issues like mine did. Mine were just as bad. I had to have or at least lead to believe to have surgery. Well I had surgery and now I'm worse off. Much worse in my opinion. So avoid surgery if you can. Sometimes it will help people. Shots don't so much other than enrich doctors giving them. You lived it for 40 years. This is your life. What you think is bad could get much worse if you have too much intervention which was my case. Chiropractic treatment probably made my situation worse and went to see surgeon who guess what, recommended surgery. Thats how there guys get paid. For getting better. Loose weight, core exercises and light stretches, minimal weight lifting or none, good diet. Lots of water. Rest and relaxation techniques. Avoid pills and surgery or end up a spinal cripple.

  • Hi Janice

    Welcome! Lots of advice, support & listening ears on here!

    I'm in pretty much the same boat as you. Not had it as long as you though. I've had three lots of surgery for prolapsed discs, epidurals and injections. My DDD (strange how I call it 'my') curtailed my beloved nursing career before the age of 40. I'm now disabled, have to use two crutches to 'hobble' around, (can't really call it walking) in pain and living on benefits - it's rubbish!! It's intent on claiming more & more discs too.

    It's a really rough ride isn't it? Unfair & unjust. So painful that sometimes you can't believe a human being could actually get this much pain! How is my brain still functioning with this amount bombarding it - every single day??!! How am I still sane? (being insane, thus not knowing what's going on, might be a blessing!)

    I'm on a lot of medication, attend a Pain Clinic to see two different doctors, under a psychiatrist, have physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

    How do I/we cope? Many, many different strategies!

    I'm assuming you attend a Pain Clinic as you've had some interventions already? Have you had any 'training' (bizarre way to put it!) in pain management techniques? These are both psychological & practical ways to get through hours, days, weeks etc.

    Physiotherapy? Swimming? Hydrotherapy?

    You could so consider massage, pilates, yoga, acupuncture, reiki etc.

    Obviously all of these need clearance from the doctors you see but are definitely worth a try. What have you got to lose?

    The main thing though, is that many people get just a little relief from the other guys on here - from practical advice to a gentle, listening, understanding ear......


  • Thankyou for your reply to my post. Yes I have been attending a pain clinic and I have my 2nd Degree in Reiki . I am working full time still so need to find ways to cope at work because obviously some of the meds make me to sleepy to take during the day. ( amitryptaine, gabapentin , arthrotec, and Cyclobenzaprine. Thankyou for any advise you may have .


  • So sorry about your health like the other two I have got the same As you I have had the injections but they did not work for me at all not even for one day. I too have been to the pain management clinic but they just help you to cope best you can with your pain. I too now am living on benefits as I can't walk my right side is numb as my diss are pushing down on my nerves. I am a mum of 4 single now. I too am losing the will to live my pain is chronic and 24/7 no let up. I only keep going because of my children ( I know that sounds sad but who would live with this much pain ) I too am waiting for an appoment for hydrotherapy too see if that help at all.

    All you can do it look after yourself take one day at a time don't push yourself too much. That's all I can do sorry I feel like that did not help at all xx Linda

  • Thankyou for your reply : It does help to know that I am not alone in this. Problem I find is that because it is not seen then you must be faking it. My husband is great and has taken on the heavier work in the house, and I do the lighter stuff. Sounds like you have 4 great reasons to keep fighting for. Will keep you in my prayers.


  • It's as if I wrote your post myself, I too have had a couple of different attempts of steroid injections which haven't worked, but had to go through it or the surgeon would even consider putting me on the list for the surgery that I need, it's like they hold you hostage, afraid that if you don't do it that they will say that you aren't willing to try other things so then why would they do the surgery that is needed. I have just contacted my surgeon to say that the last one three weeks ago made no effect whatsoever and he finally realised that I had done everything else possible and I have finally been put on the list for the surgery on my 2 prolapsed discs. All I can say is be fire and stand your ground, but not get aggressive or too emotional when speaking to him and it may work for you,

    I hope that you get the answer that you want, good luck

  • I have three prolapsed discs and one starting to disintergrate, in constant pain. One of the worst things in the awful nerve pain. I have just had another 6 injections into my back and found they really did help me, although horribly painful on the day and afterwards. Now going to St. Thomas for treatment.

  • dear Janice

    I can sympathise with you deeply - I have ongoing pain but manage to live with it as have no option really. see my letter about my latest treatment. Overall after following this particular ailment, I have yet to see any recommendations that work - medication that is. So it seems as though exercise and other physio treatments may be the only way forward. Good luck and welcome to our board. Everyone is so kind and caring.

  • From what I have seen so far people are very caring and kind. I know my husband tries to understand but unless you have this type of pain you cant . Take care , thankyou for your reply.


  • Hi Janice (again!)

    You mentioned you're on four medications; if you let us know what they are, we may be able to 'recommend' others to ask your GP or pain clinic for.

    I find the nerve pain is first on the list for cruelty, closely followed by the chronic pain from the scar tissue from surgery, dry discs scraping my vertebrae together and bulging discs, onto the horrendous muscle spasms that defy any prior knowledge I had of pain!

    Oh, I've also got sacroiliitis on one side that's adding to the agony, so waiting for a steroid injection into that.

    I'm sure you and everyone else have a top five/ten list so we'll probably be able to guide you in the 'right direction' for meds if you're willing to medicate!!

    The jury's still out on which meds are actually beneficial though.......


  • Thankyou for your reply I am on Gabapentin, Athrotec, Amitriptaline and Cyclobenzaprine ,as well as T3's when nothing else is working. The T3's I take after a difficult day at work and it's to early for the rest of my meds. Sometimes they work and sometimes they give me no relief. I am finding it more and more difficult to work but cant quit because we just have so much debt from when my husband was off on disability. Thankyou for and ideas you may have. Will keep you in my prayers. Janice

  • One pain doctor I see says that I/we should take Paracetamol (prescription) regularly as a baseline med - not just when more pain starts. Also Ibuprofen (if you can take it) when you feel a 'niggle' starting. (I can't as I've got asthma) Ask for a prescription for Omeprazole too then you'll be protecting your stomach lining. I take Paracetamol now as I take my regular meds - it's part of my routine. It definitely helps with my management.

    I don't know what Athrotec is?

    Maybe ask for the muscle relaxant Baclofen; also as a regular once or twice a day and up it to three times a day when your pain is worsening. It's not like Diazepam in that it renders you too sleepy to work or drive. I definitely know when I haven't taken it! I'm on 30mg three times a day but start lower to see how it affects you.

    If you're still not comfortable, it might be a good idea to ask to swap to Pregabalin as a nerve pain med instead of the Gabapentin. It seems to be the 'trendy one' ; also very expensive until May 2017 but if you've got a good case for it then your GP should prescribe it. I'm now up to 250mg twice a day but it's a definite 'start low and build up slow drug'. The increase in dose has so made a difference for me.

    I know finding a balance of 'being comfortable but still competent' is difficult but it's all about trial & error.

    Definitely worth getting your current medication reviewed though. Who can say what drug will or won't work for you!


  • Hi Rayjayc wow thankyou for all the information. Arthrotec is a anti inflammatory . I am on Pariet for my stomach. Again thankyou I will be looking into the drugs you have mentioned to see if they are available in Canada.


  • Did they do the steroid injections with xray guidance? If they didn't, then they can be a bit hit or miss whether they get them in the right spot or not. I've had a number of steroid injections into different areas of my back, but at our local hospital they can't do the xray guidance, so while the first injections gave me huge relief, the second and third lots did pretty much nothing (just a little bit for a day or two that I think was the local anaesthetic in it, rather than the steroid working). I decided that one out of three wasn't good enough odds to have any more, especially when steroid injections next to bone can have the side effect of contributing to more bone problems.

    Push to have xray guided injections, and also to be properly assessed for the rhizotomy.

  • So sorry that cannot have X-ray guided injections. I am fortunate because they do use X-ray .

  • Lets start with the diagnosis. What does it mean? The answer is I do not know. The picture is not complete. You have a diagnosis based on an image taken in circumstances where you have to keep still and not move. You are not getting a picture as to what the rest of the body is doing in response to the diagnostic picture. You not getting a picture as to how the muscles are behaving in response to situations where you move from A to B.

    What is your normal body posture? Do you stand relatively upright or are you developing a bend in the spine? Are your muscles reasonably lengthened out or are they over contracted? Is the head nicely balanced on top of the spine when you undertake activities or are you having to use muscle to hold the heavy head because the head is no longer balanced on top of the spine?

    As you see the picture is not complete. Muscles when they are not used very well can generate a lot of pain. This type of pain development is almost never ever looked at by the medical profession. Pain prevention is often pain killers and anti-inflammatories with no consideration ever given to the need to learn to modify muscle behaviour as a means of pain reduction.

    If muscle behaviour is causing you pain you are going to need to investigate whether this is so and to investigate how to develop the means to modify muscle behaviour as a means of pain reduction.

    Note: injured or compromised body structures reduce the amount of freedom of action that muscles can do without hitting causes for pain.

    Reply if you want to investigate this further.

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