I wrote about having an MRI which revealed that I had a ruptured disc which was compressing my sciatic nerve, which runs all the way down my leg. That’s why I could not stand up straight and why I was limping. I was sent to a pain management center at a hospital to get a spinal epidural steroid injection. When I met the pain doctor, he was very friendly, understanding and informative, explaining about ruptured discs and what they were going to do that day. At the time I was in so much pain that I would have believed the moon was purple. I just wanted him to get on with it! Right before I was sedated he told me that for some people one shot was sufficient, but for others, it took two to really have an effect. So he’d see me again in two weeks and we could determine at that time if I needed another.
When I got up off the table (who knows how much later?) my back pain was gone and I stood up straight for the first time in five days. The leg was different matter. Long story short, it improved a bit, but then stopped and was throbbing in my shins to the point where it was waking me up in the middle of the night…every night.
As I neared the second appointment, I was pretty sure I’d need the second shot. Then a funny thing happened the night before. I was watching TV and was looking up sciatica on the Internet where I read that some gentle stretching exercises were very helpful. I doubted I could do them, but on the next commercial, I got down on the floor and tried them, VERY GENTLY. Then I went back to what I had been doing. A moment later I realized…the throbbing had stopped! And it didn’t come back. Weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced.
Meanwhile the pain clinic had moved forward, assuming I’d have another “treatment,” even to the point of calling the day before to remind me not to eat or drink after midnight. When I saw the doctor, I told him what had happened. He looked surprised and, if I’m not mistaken, a bit disappointed. He frowned and said, “You have a pretty seriously ruptured disc there and make no mistake, exercise won’t help and steroid shots or medication won’t cure it. As a matter of fact, if it acts up after a second shot, I think we should call in a back surgeon.” He then asked me if I wanted to get a second shot “just in case.” I told him that since I wasn’t feeling any pain at the moment, I didn’t see the point. I asked him about some pills he gave me and he said I could stop them. Actually, I think I ruined his whole day. Now here’s the weird part. I went home and did some more research and according to many sources, this one being Cedars-Sinai Hospital:
More than 90% of patients who have a herniated disc will improve within six months after nonsurgical treatment. For this reason, nonsurgical treatment is usually tried before surgery is considered. Nonsurgical treatment usually includes:
* Rest, followed by a gradual increase in activity
* Medication to control pain and inflammation
* Exercises recommended by the doctor or physical therapist to help reduce pain and strengthen the muscles that support the back
In some cases, herniated discs heal on their own by a process called resorption. During resorption, the body absorbs parts (fragments or tissue) from a herniated disc that has ruptured.
Surgery may become necessary in only a small number (less than 10 percent) of people who have herniated discs. Surgery may be considered for people who have progressive nerve damage or severe weakness or numbness or for those whose pain has not been relieved by other methods.
Almost EVERYTHING he said to me was contradicted by this, the Mayo Clinic, Web M.D., etc.! What am I to think? Oh, and I stopped the medicine he told me to stop and had a very bad reaction a couple of days later. I found out you’re not supposed to stop it abruptly! It says:
If you suddenly stop taking Gabapentin, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, pain, and sweating.
I had all of those except the sweating.
So what’s the deal? Who can you trust? Could it be that this doctor gets a kickback or commission on these epidurals? Before you scoff, let me tell you what just one costs. $2,290.63 !!!!!! No, I’m not kidding. Something to think about, isn’t it?