In September 2006, I had a microdiscectomy for a very large L5-S1 herniated disc. The surgery wnt well, and I was doing really well for a while. I actually was able to do a reltively long open water swim 9 monhs after the surgery. Once I started back to increase to my normal level of actiity, I started getting familiar back pain and leg numbness. My MRI shows scar tissue and a free fragment at the same level. My doctor has suggested that I might want to try to (1) live with the pain, (2) try an S1 nerve block, or (3) have another discectomy with a more extensive laminectomy. I am worried about another surgery unless it is absolutely necessary, but I also want to return to my normal level of daily activity.
Does anyone have a similar experience I can learn from? The nerve block sounds interesting, but I fear it will be short term and I will cause further injury during the "pain free" time. I'd greatly appreciate feedback.
Hi, Steven. You're absolutely right...a nerve block can help. Some people will get several months relief, while others get nothing from it. It's a temporary thing and fixes nothing unless the pain is caused from imflammation. If you want to "buy" some time, you can try the block and see if it helps. Of course, you have to not overdo things while it is working and as you know, that's hard to do when you feel good.....
If the surgeon has no plans to remove more of the disc, that might be the route to go; however, keep in mind that removing more disc might lead to the disc totally herniating. It might not, but it could and you should discuss with your surgeon just what the future will or might hold if you have the laminectomy. In fact, you probably should get a second opinion since your back problem has gotten a bit more complicated. It never hurts to be as sure as one can be when faced with these decisions.
Best of luck to you; please let us know what you decide and how things are going with you.
Well it is 4:10 eastern time. I can't say it was the most pleasurable experience I've ever had... They scrub your back with betadine and cover it with a steril drape. Then they numb the area that they are going to do the nerve root block with something like novacane. This does sting and you feel pressure, but not too bad. Then they park the x-ray machine over you so that they can see the level that needs the injection. They draw up the steroid and anti-inflamatory med. into the needle. They then stick the needle in, having already told you that they are not going to actually inject the nerve, but the sheath that surrounds the nerve. They say that you will let them know when they hit the right one becaues you will feel a jolt from where they are sticking you right down and thru your foot. Too True! The jolt went from the injection site, thru the buttox, around the front and into the hip joint, across the top of my right thigh, around my knee and out thru my foot. The most intense point is when they are forcing the med. thru the needle. The pressure for me was in the hip joint. It felt like they were going to blow up my hip joint from the inside. They had to remind me to breathe more than once. It only took about ten minutes. They said that for some people, they get right up and can walk out, others need to be wheeled out because their leg feels like a limp noodle. I had the limp noodle. On the way home, my left leg also went semi numb. Picture my dh trying to help me up the steps, into the house and to bed. I called them and asked them why my left leg had also gone numb since they only injected the right side. They said that it souldn't have, maybe becaues of the way I had been laying on the table during the injection. I'm not sure I buy that, I've not had any trouble with the left leg and will be sure to let the ortho know when I next see him. By four hours later I was able to ambulate on my own with just some residual numbness in my bottom. They said that I shouldn't get dissapointed if I don't notice a difference right away, that it takes about two days for it to begin to work. Some patients get no relief, some get two to six months of relief and some pt's get complete relief. So, long winded enough, I hope this doesn't scare you, I just wanted you to have a basic play by play. The pain still isn't nearly as bad as pre and post discectomy were so I would do it again, just not tomorrow... Let me know how it goes for you, I will check back and let you know how it is working for me.. Lynn
Last edited by ustalaughalot; 11-02-2007 at 01:35 PM.
Usta, I suspect you have a cross over in your nerves. If you look at the dermatone charts they label each area as a particular nerve. In my case alot of L5 areas marked on the chart are really my L4 nerve.
The main question was your normal pain gone. If so, they got the right area and the have the problem level.
Alot of times this is used as a diagnostic tool.
I too have had the noodle leg for up to 24 hours afterwards. Take it easy and I pray this is the answer to your pain.
Snape, I have had 2. The first one took away my pain for 72 hours and we won't talk about the last nerve block.
Hi, I had a nerve block at L5 in June. Before I had it, I had severe left sided sciatica, numb left foot, severe nerve pain in my outer ankle, etc. I also have alot of scar tissue in there.. had bulging at L2-L3 and L5-S1 and larger herniations at L3-4 & L4-5, but also had a fragment stuck in the left lateral recess. The procedure itself was extremely painful, though only for several seconds until they completely numbed me. It actually did help me for this particular sciatic pain & parasthesias. But I keep reherniating at different levels and lately the nerve pain's been in my hips & groin areas, but the sciatic pain from L5 has not yet returned. I think right now I might have herniated L3 or L4. Though it might or might not work for you, you might still want to give it a try, as it's better than going right for more surgery.
Hi! I have had numerous nerve blocks by different doctors. Some docs are much better at them then others but overall they aren't that bad. I usually end up with the leg going completely numb and therefore very hard to walk, but no pain, so that is the best part. As others have told you, some nerve blocks help for awhile and some last longer and some don't help or last only a couple of days. I always want to try the nerve block instead of jumping into surgery. I ended up giving in due to the chronic sciatic pain and had an L5-S1 fusion that hasn't helped the pain at all, so I have tried more epidurals to try to get some relief even if it is for a few days. I hope you have good luck from your nerve block and if it helps, don't feel bad if you have to have another one down the road. Hang in there!