Tuesday, 01 June 2004

I can't imagine there are many people who care about my pain and suffering, but for the few that do and who have asked me to show pictures, here is a followup to my first spinal injection post from a few weeks ago.

And this time there's pictures! (Click on the image for more detail and pictures from the scene of the crime with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one to be used as evidence against... Oops, never mind. The red arrows point to the inserted needles.)

I went back in this morning and had a second round of injections done, only this time I skipped the IV pain killers and anesthesia/relaxation stuff. Last time they gave me this stuff that made me all calm, and a bit groggy. It's not that I wanted to avoid that medication this time, it's just that the nurse couldn't get an IV stick in me successfully. After a few painful attempts at finding a vain (I had not had enough liquids the day before and could not drink anything this morning before the procedure), we gave up and I decided I'd endure the pain of the procedure over the pain of he failed IV sticks.

That turned out to be a good idea.

My doctor's a funny guy. When he heard I was not getting the IV drugs, he paused for a second or two, said, “Well ohhhhhkayyyy then,” and started in. Yeah, it was more painful, but all in all not too bad.

The picture above is from the procedure, where they stick a needle down in my spinal column, about 3 inches, into in the epidural space where he injected a “nerve block” and some cortisone steroid stuff, which will reduce the inflammation and hopefully solve my problem of not being able to carry the weight of my body on my own two feet from time to time. Either that or figure out something else, but this is the first step (after trying medication and physical therapy - the first invasive step, you could call it).

For anyone who's avoided procedures to help with back injuries or degeneration (I have a herniated and degenerated disk), let me tell you this: You can get some relief (in some cases complete relief I am told). While my pain returned (I was told it probably would), and I have to go through this second round, the freedom from pain when you get it is worthwhile. I did not realize how much pain I was in until it was gone. Kind of like beating your head against a wall, as they say: It feels so much better when you stop.

Anyhow, totally non-tech, and so now we return you to your regularly scheduled blogram...



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Tuesday, 01 June 2004 17:32:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Tuesday, 01 June 2004 20:10:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I know I might get nabbed a Yoga-Nazi after this post..but about 10 years ago the doctors were also considering this injection for me.. having had local coritzone shots that did nothing for the back injury I suffered after a car accident... 3 years ago I started doing yoga after choosing to "live with the pain" and I have a pain free back now. I swear it works... I do ashtanga -- a very physically demanding form of yoga... try it, it might help.
Tuesday, 01 June 2004 20:21:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Having been through two series of three spinal injections for back pain, sciatica, etc., the first injection is the worst, both because there's plenty of swelling near the spine and because you don't know what to expect. All they ever gave was a local though. I waited three weeks between injections in the first series, then six months before they started a second series...which were three weeks apart again. I was hurting worse when I had my first injection in the second series, but it hurt nowhere near as bad as that first one.

I did get relief from the injections, but only for awhile...finally had surgery. Of course, I had multiple back problems. All the lumbar disks were/are degenerative, then I broke one of the lumbar vertebrae, knocked another 1/4 the way out of alignment, etc. It's a mess.

I know a lot of people who've gotten good relief from the injections. The docs knew trying injections on my back was a dice roll to buy me a few years before surgery, and I didn't get lucky. There are more back surgeries in my future, and probably more injections to try to put off those surgeries as long as possible. Once you've had an injection or two, it's just something else you endure.

Best of luck w/ your back.
Wednesday, 02 June 2004 05:51:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Yes, I would view this as a temporary fix.
Depending on the source of your back problems keeping fit and regular exercise may make almost as much of a difference. (But that is my problem, I am not fit and I don't exercise enough.) I've had a big back surgery (vertibra removed and bone graft to fuse 3 vertabra) and I can say you definitely want to avoid it if possible.
Wednesday, 02 June 2004 13:08:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks for the info from everyone. I definitely want to avoid surgery if I can. If it's truly necessary I will go there, but I am certainly willing to try the other things first.

The biggest problem I have with exercising is that it's more often than not too painful to bear. Kind of a catch-22 situation ... darned if I do, darned if I don't. Exercising tends to make the inflamation worse. I hate that.

Obviously there's no easy way around this kind of problem. Good to hear from people with real experience.
Thursday, 03 June 2004 19:24:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Are you in Seattle? There is a great ashtanga school there and I would highly suggest you visit it and talk to the experienced teachers teaching there. I would have made the same comment 4 years ago... that exercise was just painful... no, it was not an easy road to get here.. but believe it or not, an hour ago, I was dropping back into a back bend from standing straight up... and it feels REALLY REALLY good. I battled a lot of pain in the beginning of yoga.. teachers telling me my back was messed up, trying to get me to do this or that... an experienced teacher is the key, they can help you through the pain and get the postures right for your body.
Sunday, 06 June 2004 23:18:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
No, I am in the Portland area. Careful now, someone might cal you a Yoga-Nazi. :)

I will give the exercise thing a chance as soon as my doc says it's cool. He's all about avoiding surgery, which is a good position for a doc to take, I think. We'll have to go through a lot of other things before we end up at the surgery table. If it has to be done, he's just assume wait until it's the only option left and I can't function without it, I think.
Sunday, 24 October 2004 10:26:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
For someone who has early osteoporosis (taking Fosamax lots of Calcium) choosing the epidural injections in my neck has been between a rock and a hard place because corticosteroids leech out calcium. I do have some relief from pain, certainly less tendency to spasm, but I am very concerned about swollen ankles, some weight gain and unknown weakening of the very vertebrae that were damaged.
Am I imagining the weight gain and swollen ankles as attributable the localized epidural injections or are these common side effects?
Adele
Adele
Sunday, 24 October 2004 10:27:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
For someone who has early osteoporosis (taking Fosamax lots of Calcium) choosing the epidural injections in my neck has been between a rock and a hard place because corticosteroids leech out calcium. I do have some relief from pain, certainly less tendency to spasm, but I am very concerned about swollen ankles, some weight gain and unknown weakening of the very vertebrae that were damaged.
Am I imagining the weight gain and swollen ankles as attributable the localized epidural injections or are these common side effects?
Adele
Adele
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