Injection or surgery?

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I have a 'notable' disc bulge at C6 C7, plus a minor bulge above, which is trapping a nerve root and causing impingement on the spinal cord. I have been in extreme pain for over 12 weeks and have been prescribed numerous medications which, apart from OxyContin, have provided little relief. I have had physio but they've said there's nothing more they can do for me. Arm pain is especially bad, pins/needles and thumb & 1st two fingers numb. My urine flow is compromised as it is very slow, esp in the morning / at night. I have now developed 'heavy' legs with pain in the left one (affected side) and occasional bad headaches with visual disturbance. The neck itself has become more painful at late and there is also more noticeable pain in the centre of my back which feels like someone is sticking a knife in. I am generally very tired as the meds affect my sleep - getting no more than 4 hours a night.

Been off work sick for about 8 weeks now but am on an absence monitoring procedure, so if I have any more time off following this long term absence my teaching job is at risk - this is causing much anxiety.

Been referred 'urgently' by my doctor to a consultant and am awaiting an appt any time.

Has anyone had similar symptoms and, if so, What treatment is likely to be recommended?

If injection, it worries me that it may not work for long then I'm off work again and will probably lose it. However, surgery carries it's own risks too.

I just can't go on like this. The pain is really affecting my quality of life now.

Sorry for the long post. I'm a newbie and wanted to provide as much background info as possible in the hope that someone else may have had a similar experience. What treatment was offered and how effective was it please?

Thank you x

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  • Posted

    An injection won't fix you, only provide hopefully some temporary pain relief. Personally, I would be very surprised if you don't get an operation straight away and soon!
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  • Posted

    Almost the same here. However, i have sufferred disc bulge in the range of C3-4 to C6-7 (2.5cm) for a couple of years. It also hurts the middle of my thoraic back terribly. Any advice?
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  • Posted

    Hi, Similiar symptoms but for me my disc bulge was in Thoracic spne (mddle back) compressing my spinal cord and had nerve issues down legs and numb right foot.

    I had an operation (laminectomy) 5 months ago ( I had no choice as There was a possbility ofpotential  paralysis without it) and while I still have nerve symptoms in the legs my mobility is great (Back At Gym) and on no medication.

    It sounds similar related symptoms caused by  spinal cord compression due to the disc bulge and it sounds like op. is your best bet, dont waste time on injections, it will only delay(at best) getting to the "root" of the problem.

    Ring to see where you are on waiting list, I did and found I would not see a consultant for 15 months so had a private consulatation and went back on NHS.

    Keep us posted on your progress and as you will see from this forum your not on your own, lots of us have been where you are now but there is a way through, though you have to push it yourself, stay positive.

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    • Posted

      Thanks drinxs. I also have pain in middle of thoracic back now, glad to hear that you're off medication and feeling much better. Had a letter from hospital today (yay!) and my referral has now been passed to a consultant for review. They will be in touch 'soon'. Thanks for the reply.
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  • Posted

    Well, I saw them consultant last Friday and, after reviewing my MRI scans, confirmed that I need surgery. However, he then asked if I smoke (yes) and informed me that I need to be nicotine free for 3 months before they will perform the surgery 😞. So I will be having an epidural cortisone injection next week, giving up smoking and hopefully having the surgery in a few months time. Hope the injection works in the meantime!
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  • Posted

    Firstly Shelly hello & sorry you're in pain.

    Sadly I've had a lot of issues with my back including 2 discectomies & 3 epidurals of which I'm having another one today in fact.

    I find it all very difficult when I read people have had so long off work because of slipped discs, I actually run a pub and the only true time I had off work was when I had my operations.

    I would suggest you go with an injection to start, this will help you get back to work which should be your first priority. Then take surgery a little down the line, because if you do have surgery you'll be out weeks.

    Hope this helps some what.

    Nick

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    • Posted

      Hi Nick. I am still waiting for a phone call re. the injection, I suspect that Xmas may be delaying things somewhat.

      Regarding work, I appreciate your points, however there is absolutely no way I would be able to get through the day as the pain is so intense. I cannot drive to get there as the sitting position in the car is excruciating and I find it difficult to turn my head, plus the meds do not enable me to drive anyway. Even if I did get there my teaching job entails long periods sitting at a computer, carrying lots of heavy books and marking copious amounts of work which I simply can't sit comfortably to do. Sitting typing this is agonising, despite the medication. I believe that everyone's pain is different - what one person can manage, another one can't.

      Of course my priority is to get back to work as soon as possible, however I have to be very careful that once I'm back I try to stay back, otherwise I will progress to a Stage 3 absence monitoring period which could result in termination of employment. Should this happen I would have to sell my house, etc. It is all a huge worry, compounded by pain I didn't think even existed.

      As you know, there is no guarantee that the epidural will be effective. I really hope it is. I hope it will allow me to go back to work. The future is very uncertain at the moment and I am having to be very careful how I move around. I am also experiencing eye disturbance in the form of flashing lights on a regular basis, presumably due to the nerves.

      The consultant tells me that surgery is definitely needed but we'll see how the epidural goes first - when I eventually get it!

      Thank you for your reply, much appreciated.

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  • Posted

    i have had two cortisone injections into my lower spine, for my prolapsed disc.it was done under a local anesthetic, and didn't really hurt at all. the injections, if your doctor decides you should have them will last about a year, and you are allowed 3 in total i was told. you sound in a lot more pain than i was, so maybe you will be required to have surgery, however if possible opt for the injections. they do work very well, i take naproxen now for my back when it is painful, and do lots of walking which helps a lot. good luck, hope you feel better soon.
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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply Stephen. Glad to hear the injections have worked well for you. I do need surgery but have to be nicotine-free for 3 months first, which is why the consultant is arranging the injection. Who knows, it may be that it works well enough to avoid surgery - hope so! Main problem at the moment is Xmas as I need the injection urgently but consultant and his secretary are on holiday and other staff are struggling to arrange things/find out necessary details so looking like I'll have to wait til next week to find out what's going on.
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  • Posted

    Hi Shelly I have the same dilemma bulging disc at C5/6 and then minor bulge at C7/T1 diagnosed Aug 2014. at pre op in Dec 2015 however bulging disc is now retracted but nerve pain and numbness still exists in left hand and arm ...after requesting nerve block in 2014 I still haven't been called .....Consultant doesn't know why ???? So still waiting for that to be chased up.

    Reluctant to take surgery as now told nerve damage could be permanent ....I am not working as my contract as an SEN TA wasn't renewed..

    I am totally frustrated by the whole

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    • Posted

      Thanks your reply Heather. Glad to hear that the bulging disc has retracted by itself - gives me some hope. Had a call today to say I have been passed to Radiology so hopefully not long to wait now for the nerve root block.

      From experience you need to mither the hospital to death so they know your name. Shouldn't have to be like that I know but seems to be necessary to get anything done!

      Not surprised the nerves could be permanently damaged as you've had to wait so long! So sorry about your contract, I'm understandably worried too - HR from the Council are coming to see me next week.

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  • Posted

    Thanks for your reply Shelly good to hear that youve at least been referred to radiology  hope its quicker where you are, after a lot of chasing people down last week finally got an answer  been referred to radiology but its going to be another 2 months at least so a nerve block here has a longer waiting list than cervical disc surgery.

    so all in all from the first visit (paid privately) to possible nerve block its been 19 months with extreme pain, numb left hand and a loss of job...

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    • Posted

      Omg 19 months? Aw I really feel for you :-( So sorry to hear that you've lodt your job too and you're in so much pain. Losing my job is one of my biggest fears! Really hope things improve for you hun xxx
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  • Posted

    Hi, new to this too, had surgery L5S1 on 15/12/15 have suffered for 5 years with legs pain pins and needles back pain and so on. I refused surgery 3years ago and ending up getting married on a crutches, I listened to alot of horror stories and this put me off, I'm 5 weeks post op and its the best thing I ever done, only need pain meds after walking a few miles, I would say 80%success but still early days, stay strong

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