Once, Twice, Three Times an Epidural!

A Real -Life OSC Patient Talks About Her Pain Management Experience and Use of Epidurals

Hello, it’s me! (that was also the title of a great Todd Rungren song in the 70s)

Yes, I am back again and this time, it is to talk about having epidurals, not once, not twice, but three or more times.

Back in 2011, during the early summer, I had an epidural injection (which didn’t work) quickly followed by another epidural injection (that did work). The second epidural injection was one or two discs lower that the first one, but it really did the trick! I lived almost totally pain-free for about 7 months. Yes, I might get a minor twinge here and there, if I slept wrong, but the relief from the epidural injection was palpable and wonderful! I had forgotten what it was like to have pain free nights, able to sleep restfully and days at work that were not marred with searing pain in my neck, trapezoids and shoulder region. It was sheer bliss, and for someone who hates needles and passes out very easily, I have become the world’s biggest advocate of epidurals,because they work!

Dr Jenny Andrus M.D.

Dr Jenny Andrus - Interventional Pain Management Specialist

So, now that I am starting to feel pain again, I ran, not walked, to schedule my next epidural, because I want the pain relief that it afforded me. I began to wonder, just how many epidurals can you have safely over a year or over a lifetime? To answer my question, I consulted Dr. Jenny Andrus, a Pain Management Specialist here at OSC. Dr. Andrus told me that you can safely have multiple epidurals in a year, but usually not more than 3 or 4. Too much steroid can be a bad thing, so a good physician makes sure to monitor how much steroid is administered to an individual over a certain period of time. A person who has a herniated disc or other spinal issue can safely have epidurals through-out their lifetime for pain management. This is wonderful news for persons who cannot have surgery for medical reasons or for those who just choose not to have spinal surgery. Sometimes, as in my case, better pain relief is afforded by having two injections, at different vertebral levels, done closely, within a few weeks. This gets a good amount of steroid near the inflamed nerve root, allowing it to heal, the inflammation to lessen and providing pain relief. It is amazing how much misinformation there is about epidurals, but if I can help to set the record straight, I am happy to do so!

Contact Dr Jenny Andrus for a consultation through Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Tel: (757) 596-1900

Email: info@osc-ortho.com

 

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6 Comments

  1. Kenneth Purifoy
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I have been pain free for about 7 months . I am my second round of epidurals , however the first set of shots had no effect Any suggestions ?
    How often do the shots not take effect?

  2. osc
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Thank you for these very good questions. Because every patient responds differently to epidural steroid injections, it is not unusual for patients to report different levels of effectiveness. Epidural injections can be a very effective way to treat pain from pinched nerves. There is no definitive answer on whether these injections will work for a particular patient until they are tried. Some people get an epidural steroid injection and feel less pain for years, while others receive one or two injections every year, and for some, the injections do not have much effect at all.

    If the pain-relieving effect is short-lived, the injection may need to be repeated. If the injection was not effective (even for a few days), then it is typically not repeated. However; if the injection was not effective, your physician should also consider other factors, such as the location chosen for injection or the technique used (interlaminar vs transforaminal – these are medical terms for two different approaches to the spine for placing the medication).

  3. Irene petersen
    Posted January 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    thank you for taking our questions. I have herniation in L4-l-5 and S-1. I am 61 Years old and otherwise healthy (with some degenaritive athritis elsewhere in the back). My psychiatrist first freated my sacrum joint with steroids because at first the pain did not rund down my leg. In a matter of a week I had unbearable pain in the ham string area and in the L5 area. My rheumatologist suggested a facet injection so I had that one with little or no relief. Two weeks later and two days ago I had an epidural and yes relief. It felt like my life was coming back.! The psychiatrist says I cannot have more epidurals for six months because that is too much steroids in the back. A second pain management doctor (who gavee me the last injection because the psychiatrist was away for the holidays says i can have one more and i really would like that. Could you provide some advise it it is ok? Thank you so very much, Irene

    • osc
      Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Hello Irene. We’re sorry to hear about your pain problems. That’s a great question. The total amount of steroid a person can have depends on several factors including other medical conditions and body weight. Different injections use different amounts of steroids. Your pain management physician will need to review how much you had in your first three injections to decide if it’s reasonable to have a second epidural or if you will need to wait. Best of luck to you!

  4. Posted March 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I am 42 yrs young and have had neck problems for the last 8 yrs. I woke up one morning with a crick in my neck and it’s went from there. I have never been in a car accident or anything else. Started going to the chiro about a month after my crick and was told that you do not get that kinda of injury unless something tramatic has happened. I went to him for the first 5 yrs about 1 or 2 times a month. At the end, I was going to him 2 times a day. The pain was unbearable. Had my MRI and had 2 ruptured disc at C5-C6-C7. Had my surgery 3 yrs ago and done great up until 6mths ago. Pain has returned again. Had an MRI and it showed another bulge at C3-C4 also slight degeneration above and below the fusion. I’ve had 8 wks of physical therapy and also had the first of a series of epidural shots. I have still not felt the effects of the shots and it’s been 2 1/2 weeks. Pain increased after I had the shots. Just need someone else’s thoughts on my situation. What else can be done. I have a very active family and it’s really affecting us all. We love to hike, fish, and ride our atv’s which I cannot do because of the pain. Just need to know what I can do next to help myself

    THANKS FOR YOU TIME!!!!!

    • osc
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi Christy,
      One of our Spine Specialists, Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, reviewed your post. His suggestion to you is that you make an appointment with a Fellowship-trained Spine Specialist to be evaluated. He said that it is very difficult to determine what could be going on and the best course of treatment without a physical examination and a review of recent diagnostic images of your spine. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know. Thanks for your inquiry.

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