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klwass 03-01-2008 04:20 AM

Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I had a epidural through my tailbone to get cortisone up to my L4/L5 nerve roots which were believed to be inflamed. The pain doctor didn't want to go straight in through my back because he would go through scar tissue from my surgery I had Nov. 1st. So he went in through my tailbone and fed the needle up lengthwise.

I crawl up on the table, face down. They gave me a VERY mild sedative. I was barely affected. Then I think they numbed the area because I didn't even feel the needle go in. Then he starts the procedure. Suddenly, I felt like someone dropped a truck on my legs. I was going to get off the table. They said whoa, hold on, it will pass, just hold on.

Then the second wave of pain came. Now the truck backed up onto my lower back and the intensity level went twice as high. Once again yelling at me to calm down.... I held on, they said it was over. The pain started dropping off after about 5 minutes and subsided almost completely within about 10 minutes.

It was clear that I was in pain during the procedure, So they knew that. But I didn't tell them it was my legs. Looking back on it, I probably should have told them what they were doing to me - that it was my legs that were in so much pain. ?? But no one even prepared me for it, explained that I should let them know if I get leg pain or whatever. At the time, I was in so much pain I couldn't think straight anyway. I was in basic carnal "fight or flee" mode.

That was Thursday morning. Through Friday and today, my legs now have more pain than they have EVER had. I would say my leg nerves are in about twice as much pain than before this procedure. I called the nurse at the pain clinic yesterday, she thinks maybe I had "steroidal shock" or something like that. She hopes it will pass within a few days.

Has this happened to anyone else?

Also, the headaches. Does this mean that he accidentially punctured the sack around my spinal cord and it leaked some fluid? Or could the headaches come from something else?

If he punctured the sack (or dural?) then could he have damaged the nerves going to my legs?

By the way, the doctor wouldn't talk to me after the procedure, he acted like he was too busy. I think maybe he knew he screwed it up. ???

Thanks for any advice.

Baybreeze 03-01-2008 09:17 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
Wow, sorry you have to go through all that pain during that procedure. I had the same kind of injections done recently (caudal epidurals). I had a series of 3 shots and mine were done for the same reason , because I have alot of scar tissue from surgery. One injection, I felt nothing. 2 of the others I did feel some moderate pain & pressure but I think it was only aroudn the area the needle was going in. After it was all done, I didnt feel any more pain. One of them, though, my left buttock and upper leg got numb after I got off the table. But I've never had continuing or new pain after an epidural. I only get pain after the meds wear off. However, I've seen many people on here that do get worsening or new pain after getting ESI's.

I have to ask you....did this doctor use fluoroscopy with your injection? This is a guided live x-ray. You probably would have noticed monitors around, which is where they can see the guided x-ray. This should be used so that the doc can see exactly where they are sticking the needle.

I have read that headache can occur after this if the dural sac was punctured, as you describe. Thankfully this has never happened to me. Did the headache start right after the injection? If so, maybe thats what could have happened. I really dont know how long a headache from this might last, though.

The only time I did feel extreme pain was when I had a nerve block done, but I had to feel pain so that they knew they were getting the right spot. I thought I would go through the roof, it was horrible. But it only lasted a few seconds, then I was completely numb and had no problems afterward.

So far i've had injections and nerve block from 3 different PM's and never had any complications. 2 of the docs always use the twilight sedation, which helps alot; 1 of them where I got the nerve block used no sedation & that's the one I had to feel.

As far as steroidal shock, I've never heard of it, but of course Im not a doctor. I do know sometimes steroids don't agree with some people. I dont know about ESI steroids, but I do know with oral steroids, some people can get heart racing, mood swings, and other things when they first take it. Plus there are a slew of other side effects of long term steroid use. But I have no clue what steroid shock might be.

klwass 03-01-2008 09:47 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
Thanks for the response. I guess judging by the lack of responses, people generally do not experience high pain levels during an epidural steroid injection? So what happened to me was abnormal? I hope so, because I would hope that people go to a pain clinic to get less pain, not more, as I have.

Yes, x-ray was used to guide the needle. He also used dye to see where the stuff was going via x-ray.

I had it done in the morning, and the headaches started in the afternoon. I think they get better if I lie down for a while.

It amazes me to hear people who have had these epidural steroid injections without pain. A friend had it done at the same pain center but from a different doctor. He says he had no pain, he barely remembers the procedure due to the sedation. I said WOW, he barely used any sedation on me, I remember everything. In fact I wish I didn't remember that pain, it was traumatic.

Thanks for the help.

Baybreeze 03-01-2008 09:59 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
Actually the lack of responses right now is probably due to it being the weekend. It seems it's always pretty slow here on the weekend. Come Monday, I am sure you'll have more responses. I don't know if what happened what abnormal because I've seen others mention having pain getting these injections. I had thought I would never feel any pain with these b/c my first and many later injections, I had absolutely no pain whatsoever. Since i've had surgery, though, and gotten more injections, it seems I have more pain. But again, mine seems only to be localized around the area of injection. But I wonder if scar tissue might have anything to do with it, or even in your case. I wonder if your doc hit any scar tissue and it maybe aggravated nerves in your legs? I dont' know I wish I had more advice to offer you. I do know it IS normal to feel increased pain for 1 to 2 days after an injection due to the anesthetic wearing off. I also had this happen a few times. But again, in my case, it did go away and the steroids kicked in and helped my pain alot.

I know a few people who've had these done and some of them either had no pain or mild pain, and some had bad pain. So I guess everyone has a different reaction, just like theres no way to know ahead of time if it would even help you. I really hope that what you feel does go away and maybe the steroids will help you somewhat. If you dont' feel any better over the weekend, I would suggest you call that doc's office to let them know.

deeannek 03-01-2008 10:40 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I have also had the caudal epidural and it hurt like hell. I felt electricity going down my leg and told Doctor and she said its ok. I hurt pretty bad from the injection for a few days afterward too. But it worked I had this injection in May 2007 and have not had to have another in that area since. (yeah) As for the headache, the very first time I had an epidural I had a terrible headache and called the doctors office and they told me that the injection was "clean" meaning the doctor didn't puncture the cord so I chalked it up to another migraine. I am a migraine sufferer so..I really don't or can't say if the shot caused it. I also thought I would tell you that I had the procedure after my november spinal fusion ( 2006) I was in so much pain that my surgeon thought I was having a reaction to my hardware and they thought about taking it out. Thank God I did this procedure and it took care of the problem. I have great PM and I thank god for her and saving me from yet another surgery. Take it easy this weekend and see what happens. Hopefully you will feel much better soon.

Mel52 03-01-2008 07:19 PM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I was put out for my epidural so I felt nothing. However, that night I was sweating profusely, felt dizzy and nauseous. It lasted a few days. A few weeks later I had a dr appointment so I had blood drawn. My sugar was 117 which for me was high as I am usually about 71. I then read high sugar is a side effect. I wonder how high it was right after the injection. I am grateful now that w/c denied a second shot saying it didn't work and I needed to look into chronic pain management. Huh? I thought that was what an epidural was.
I recently had the beginnings of a mylegram. I was awake. I felt the kind of pain you described. Unbearable sharp, burning pain down the back of my leg. I think the radiologist hit a nerve big time. I fainted a few minutes later probably from the position I was in so the procedure was stopped. I was told a spinal headache would not be a concern as the dye was never injected, just the linocaine. Wrong. Two days later I had an incredible headache everytime I stood up. The following day I called the radiologist whose response was surprise as she said she only punctured one time into the spinal area but if it continued go to the hospital for a blood patch but stay down flat all weekend. I spoke to a friend who is a critical care nurse. SHe said anytime the spine is poked a headache can happen and to lay down with the head slightly elevated. The pain in my leg lasted for weeks.
I am having surgery in March.

stymie82 03-01-2008 10:50 PM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I hesitate to even write this reply as I don't want to cause fear or strife. I have adhesive arachnoiditis, a spinal cord disease that causes intractable pain. It can be caused by trauma, meningitis, back surgery and any invasive procedure including epidurals and myelograms.
I had a terrible fall from an extension ladder onto my lumbar back across a raised concrete curb, subsequently had 3 epidural steroid injections to no avail and a laminectomy that was successful for over 5 years.
I belong to a support group of about 1800 people whose lives have been changed forever by this disease. Many have had multiple back surgeries and fusions and developed AA from an accumulation of insults to their spine. However, there are some who have had nothing done except a series of ESIs and developed AA. There are at least 3 women who have gotten AA from just an epidural during childbirth.
Yes, AA is rare, but it is underdiagnosed because the majority of cases are caused by medical procedures. Many people with AA are misdiagnosed with, for example, Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, CRPS, MS, neuropathy or other diseases.
I'm sure there are folks who are helped by injections, but I certainly wasn't. I know it's a more or less required step before surgery is considered. I now know that I am prone to create scar tissue, which is what is strangling and clumping my nerves inside the cord.
I've read posts in my group of a similar experience during ESIs-stabbing pain, radiating down leg and a spinal fluid headache that hurt incredibly. It's not a good sign at all.
I hope that you didn't develop a bleed inside dura, and I hope you aren't one of the unlucky ones like me who make scar tissue. I, of course, could or would never have a needle anywhere near my spine. I would also never let any loved one of mine have it done.

ms_west 03-01-2008 11:17 PM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
Last September (2007), I had a nerve root block and to be honest my back has never recovered. When my doctor did the injection, I had the sharpest pain down my leg and I came up off the table and my surgeon started yelling at me -- lay down -- don't move. When I was in the recovery room, he asked me how I was doing and I said, I can't feel my leg but my back is hurting. He said, I expected as much because you have alot of scar tissue. For the remainder of the day, I could not feel my leg and my back was bothering me but not that bad. By the next day, my back was killing me and for the 4 weeks to follow I was in the worst pain. I called my doctor and told him I was 10x worse. My back never felt this bad from day one.

To speed up my story, I had back surgery in November and they removed part of my hardware. My leg pain is better as long as I don't do anything but my back cramps 24/7 and now I am on narcotics 24/7. My surgeon is now telling me that I have failed back syndrome.

I am telling you this because I feel that with any injection there is a risk. You had a different type of injection - mine was directly into the spine. However, in my heart, I feel that something went wrong with my nerve block that September day but how does one prove anything and why try to prove it? It is not going to change the incredible back cramping and I am praying with all my might that your pain will be short lived and heal quickly.

klwass 03-02-2008 07:41 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I greatly appreciate all of those who responded.

I was doing a little better on the 2nd day out, but now on the third day, my legs are back to an elevated pain level, meaning worse pain than before I had the epidural steroid injection.

It sounds like something can happen during the procedure that can cause the terrible pain, I'm just not sure what. Then after that, it seems that some people may be worse and some may get better. I wish that part had been explained to me before I had done it. I was only told that I should get better or at the very worst stay the same level of pain.

My doctor wants me to do a 2nd and 3rd injection spaced 1 month apart, but now I don't think I will do it.

Thanks again to everyone for their help.

deljo 03-04-2008 07:27 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I have lower back pain, & tingling in my right leg like its asleep. I had a MRI and have a pinched nerve. My MD sent me to the PM clinic at the local hosp. I received two seperate injections in R-4, using fluoroscopy. For this procedure I needed to put on a gown, had an IV inserted and during the procedure they gave me oxygen.I did feel leg pain but nothing to complain about. The Dr. had warned me that when he hit the nerve I would feel an electric shock. After the 1st. injection I had total relief for about 1 wk. After the second, which was 2 wks. later, no relief at all. Two wks. later I had my first caudal block. What a simple procedure. I just laid face down on the table, they pulled my pants down and did the injection. There was some pain, but not much. The whole procedure took less than 5 min. I stayed in the rec. room for about 5 min. however afterward I felt not quite right for about 20 min. I had the second caudal block yesterday. Same 5 min. procedure but when I left the recovery room I really had a reaction of some sort. I didn't get dizzy but just was not right. I stayed in the waiting room for a few minutes and then drove to work. If I had been going home I would have tried to sleep. I'm due for one more at the end of March. Has anyone else had this reaction to the blocks? I guess I should have made this a new thread, but I don't know how at this time.

klwass 03-04-2008 03:24 PM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
This is an update. I'm not sure if anyone follows the old threads, but I'll post anyway, maybe someone is in a similar situation and is interested.

Leg pain is much worse the last two days. Pure electric in my calves when I walk. I started taking pain meds last night, the first time I have had to since I had my surgery last November.

I called the pain clinic and was able to talk to the nurse. Asked her if I could talk to the pain doctor who did the epidural, see if he can give me some understanding about what might have happened. My pain level is at least twice as high as it was before I had the epidural steroid injection. She said he would try to call me sometime this week. Unbelievable.

ms_west 03-04-2008 03:51 PM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
Ughhhhhh, I am so sorry. How utterly compassionate of this practice! As I posted earlier, I had a similiar thing happen to me. I feel so badly for you I and I am anxious to see if they call you back. Please keep us posted. I wonder what they will say.

jd813 12-15-2011 08:08 PM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I'm curious if your legs ever got better. I received my 8th injection in October of 2009 and had a similiar reaction and have experienced chronic nerve pain in both legs and feet. It has been the worse thing I've ever gone through. Can you tell me how your legs are now and were you able to find treatment or relief with anything else?

MagicPotion 12-18-2011 12:58 AM

Re: Epidural complications - anyone have this happen?
I'm sorry for you. This is the reason I decided not to try the epidurals. I was to afraid of being worst off. I hope you get better and this goes away. I imagine the doctors office does not show more interests,is because doctors don't like to admit they have done something wrong. So be prepared for that. Maybe go to the ER? If you are worst off, you should get checked out to be on the safe side. I sounds like something isn't right.

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