FDA Warns about Epidurals

FDA Warns about Epidurals

Patients who suffered spinal cord injuries during epidural steroid injections are cheering a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to require drug makers to put warning labels on injectable corticosteroids.

Injecting steroids into the epidural space of the spine to relieve pain caused by childbirth or back problems has been a widespread practice for decades. Less commonly known is the damage it can cause to the spine if the needle is inserted in the wrong place.

“Injection of corticosteroids into the epidural space of the spine may result in rare but serious adverse events, including loss of vision, stroke, paralysis, and death,” the FDA said in a statement. “Patients should discuss the benefits and risks of epidural corticosteroid injections with their health care professionals, along with the benefits and risks associated with other possible treatments.”

Doctors prepare to make anesthesiaEpidural steroid injections are increasingly being used to treat back pain of all kinds, with nearly 9 million spinal injections annually in the U.S.

The FDA said it began investigating the safety of epidural steroid injections “when we became aware of medical professionals’ concerns” and after reviewing its own adverse event database.

Patients injured by the procedure have been warning the agency for years about the “dark side” of epidurals.

“I am relieved and hopeful that things are on the right track, but there is still much more that needs to be done to stop these ineffective, harmful pain treatments from maiming and crippling people and ruining their lives,” said Dawn Gonzalez, whose spine was permanently damaged by an epidural during child birth. She now suffers from arachnoiditis and is an advocate for Arachnoiditis Society for Awareness and Prevention (ASAP).

“They need to do something to warn specifically about arachnoiditis, and do something to help those of us that have already been damaged by these procedures. They will find that these instances are not in fact rare like they say, but are in epidemic proportions relative to the number of these injections that have been given over the last 10 or so years.”

Arachnoiditis is an inflammation in the arachnoid membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. If the membrane is punctured by a needle during an epidural, it can trigger inflammation that produces scar tissue that adheres to the nerves in the spinal cord. Eventually the nerves become completely encased in scar tissue, causing severe chronic pain and other neurological problems.

Some in the arachnoiditis community wish the FDA would go further with its warning.

“We are upset that there is no mention of the risk of arachnoiditis,” said Terri Anderson, who developed arachnoiditis after receiving about 20 epidural steroid injections for a ruptured disc in her back.

Anderson has been lobbying the FDA to require warning labels for corticosteroids such as Pfizer’s Depo-Medrol (Methylprednisolone).

“This drug is now banned for epidural use in Australia and  New Zealand.  It is time for the FDA to protect public health and make these same label changes in the U.S. The risk of serious adverse events is not rare and arachnoiditis is grossly misdiagnosed and under-reported to the FDA for obvious reasons (fear of reprisal and legal liability),” Anderson said in an email to National Pain Report.

In addition to arachnoiditis, several recent studies have found that epidural steroid injections raise the risk of spinal fractures and often do little to control back pain.

To raise awareness of the safety risks of epidurals, the FDA has convened a panel of experts to help define techniques for the injections which would reduce preventable harm. An advisory committee will also be formed later this year to discuss the benefits and risks of epidural injections, and whether further FDA action is needed.

Injectable corticosteroids include methylprednisolone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, and dexamethasone. The safety issue is unrelated to the contamination of compounded corticosteroids in 2012 that led to an outbreak of fungal meningitis that killed dozens of patients and sickened hundreds. Most received the injections to treat their back pain.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 38 comments for this article
  1. ginbug at 5:39 pm

    Hi Mike, I know exactly what you are going through w/ your doc. as I & most other pain patients, have gone through the same things way too many times. Those lucky few that have not had this happen, will eventually. So sorry to say; but this will not be the last as it will continue over and over until you no longer need these meds. or die(which I believe is what they really want!)
    You have 3 options here:
    1. you could start to taper down; but it will be hard & painful & once you get the amount down or out, then you could try the marijuana to see if it works.
    2. On your refill day, you could go the whole day w/o taking your meds, then that night or the next morning, you could try it to see how it works. However, be very careful & start out w/ a very small amount because there are many different types of pot, that widely ranges in strength. Usually, the stronger the smell, the stronger the pot. For example, my friend who is in late stage cancer, was given some that smelled just like a skunk. It was the 1st time he had tried that variety & normally it took about 5 or 6 tokes before he got the amount he needed. However, it only took 1 toke of this stinky pot to get the same result. He was also on opiates at the same time & had no problems with the mix; but keep in mind that he was dying so he did not have to worry about the side effects or dangers of mixing pot w/ opioids. This is where you need to do your research before taking a chance w/ your life.
    3. lastly, you could talk to your doc about it, & ask if he would be willing to let you try it. This is risky depending on your doc. & how much he cares.
    As for how long it stays in your blood, that depends on how much you take & how sensitive the drug tests he uses is. Generally it is about 30 days before it clears & is no longer detectable. There are things that can be taken to mask it in urine tests; but most will still require you being off them for 4-6 days before it can mask it. There maybe other things that will work faster; but because I don’t use pot I don’t have to worry about it & so I don’t know all the little tricks used. You could go to a head shop as they sell things like that & research it online. As for your doc wanting to do an epidural, tell him NO. & why you don’t want it. You also may want to make a copy of this report & other legitimate reports that support your decision. He should also have your medical records showing proof that you have tried all these things already w/o result. Remember, that it is YOUR BODY & you have the right to decide what goes into it, not him! If he will not listen & still insists on you doing it anyway, then find a different doc as he is only in it for the money! Any doc, that forces a patient to let him do all this stuff especially when he is shown proof you already had them and they did not work, or holds a patients pain meds. hostage until they let him do anything he wants to them, then he should lose his license as this is proof he is a bad doc only in it for the money!! It is a shame that no one cares about all the abuse & humiliation that chronic pain patients have to go through!! There is NO other illness where patients have to give up all rights and privacy just for getting medical help, so we can have some quality of life!! This is blatant violations of our 4th & 9th amendments!!! After all unless we are dying from cancer, everyone knows that we are just a bunch of junkies & dealers, that are out there killing kids!! What a world we live in!!
    It is nice finding people that know how you really feel & how very difficult all this really is as they are in the same sinking ship! I am so very glad that I could help you & please feel free to ask anything & if I can’t answer, I will help to find someone that can. I hope all works out for you and when you feel the darkness closing in on you, just remember that you are NOT alone as there are many that are lost in the dark with you trying to find the way out.

  2. patti at 5:51 pm

    Mike, I am sorry you are going through so much I feel for your pain literally lol… not that any of this is funny. If you see a new pain DR tell him you do not want the epidural steroid injections. I know it’s difficult because if you don’t do it they make you feel like they won’t treat you. I will never go through them again I don’t care what they tell me they have harmed me. I also have a neurosurgeon apt this month so I will see what he says I will take his info and tests and make a decision I never want to be hurt again, so this time I am doing all my research. On the marijuana question I have never personally tried it but have heard from other people that it works wonders not like all the side effects like pain prescription drugs. I think it takes thirty or more days to get out of your system but not positive I am sure there is info on the web… good luck and I hope things get better..

  3. Reta Coon-Jiminez at 1:51 pm

    I enjoy hearing about others and advice for pain..
    I see my Dr at the Willamette Pain and Spine Center
    on June 12th. Dr Shea DeKlotz.PA is understanding.
    Reta

  4. Mike at 10:47 pm

    Thanks very much for your reply. I’m very frustrated especially because I’ve been told by neurosurgeon to basically start over with a new pain doctor and his arsenal of interventional procedures which I have already gone through two prior pain doctors. When I finally got a copy of the neurosurgeons notes from my visit he basically wants me to go through all of the interventional pain process needles again with the pain doctor he prefers before he decides on any surgery. I’ve had all the procedures from needles in my eyes for supraorbital and Botox and radiofrequency ablation ganglion needles etc.. I’ve had five epidurals which now apparently can be deadly to one’s life beyond the chronic pain that I’ve already had for 12 years so I’m wondering what I tell the new pain doctor first time he suggests another epidural at my C2 midline with a flouroscopic x-ray machine with dye followed by the Medrolpak or whatever it’s called. I’d love to give marijuana a try at least but I don’t know how long it stays in my urine and I’m taking OxyContin and Percocet at very high levels right now and without those I would be screaming in the emergency room but they don’t help beyond keeping me out of the hospital. It’s almost like I need to find a patient friendly doctor who would not turn me in while I’m at least trying to see if it helps. And if it helps I move to Colorado or Washington. This progressive chronic pain feels like it’s killing me slowly. I’m 57 but I feel like I am 90 and going downhill fast. It is just nice to hear back from someone that understands so again thank you for your response I truly appreciate it. Mike.

  5. ginbug at 11:13 pm

    Hi Mike, Many have had great success in pain management w/ marijuana for all types of pain conditions. There are many studies that show great results for fibromyalgia & similar CNS conditions. marijuana has also been shown to not only help w/ the pain of head & spinal injuries; but there is evidence that using it can cut recovery time & even show more complete healing that was thought not to be possible!
    Just like everything, what works for 1 may not work at all for another as we are all very different; but to not investigate these findings further is wrong and to deny someone that is suffering, relief just because something is illegal or can be used to get high, is a crime unto its self!! If it helps you & does not hurt others, then you should have the right to decide what goes into your OWN body! I myself would use marijuana for pain as it does work very well; but in my case, it is not possible (not because it is illegal)because it makes me very sick as I do not like that “high” kinda floaty feeling as I have severe motion sickness & that is what it feels like to me everytime I have used it. Now if they could find a way to separate whatever relieves the pain from whatever makes you high, then sign me up!! Until that happens, I am stuck w/ having to let docs ruin my body w/ their so called “treatments” & harsh meds. just to be able to exist w/o going insane or just killing myself! Hope I have at least given you enough of an answer to give you a starting point! I wish you much luck, Mike!

  6. Mike at 9:23 pm

    Has anyone tried marijuana or illegal drugs to help with constant pain? I had five epidural injection several years ago and the very first one worked incredibly well eliminated my pain completely up around C2 but it came back after month. Four subsequent epidurals did not produce any results so I know went to see the neurosurgeon who wants me to go to a different pain doctor and start the process over before he decides whether surgery will be helpful. It will be interesting in light of the snooze whether my new pain doctor will refuse medication when I refuse epidurals especially given my history of epidurals already. I have symptoms similar to trigeminal neuralgia type two and I take the hundred and 20 mg of Oxsee daily +40 mg of perks daily and that only keeps me out of the emergency room but keeps me as a shut in. So my question remains has anyone had success with marijuana or any illegal drugs that the prescription pain meds didn’t provide? Thank you.

  7. ginbug at 3:01 am

    Jeff, I agree w/ you about surgery as it can cause extensive damage & is done way too much! However, while you say that you do not see these problems in your patients & limit steroids to only 5 per year, you are either very lucky or you do not have a large amount of patients getting them. It could also be that your patients do not realize that they are being damaged & believe that it is just their condition. If steroids are so safe & effective for the back, then why do the drug companies that make the steroids advise against using them in epidurals? or why have they NEVER been fda approved to be used in epidurals?
    You may not; but MANY pain docs. will try to make you have these shots by holding their medication “hostage” until you do and/or will want to do them right away no matter where your pain is or what is causing it. I was given 8 shots in my back for knee pain!! Over the last 10 years, the use of these dangerous & extremely damaging “treatments” have gone up 1000%, especially since the so called pill epidemic which has caused MANY docs to stop writing for pain meds. Just because a pain clinic does not give their patients pain pills, does not mean that they are not taking advantage of a patient in terrible pain. However, they are looked at as a good docs that really care and do not want to make their patients into drug addicts and so they are not watched like a doc that does give pain meds to legitimate patients that comply w/ all rules & orders!
    Please understand that I am in no way saying that you are bad or don’t care; but in my extensive experience both personal & observed, MANY docs do not care about anything; but themselves & making alot of money for very little time, cost,& effort! I hope that you are using imagining while you perform this very risky unapproved procedure, & are COMPLETELY HONEST when you tell your patients the VERY REAL RISKS of you doing this to them, so they can at least make an informed decision! Also 5 in only 1 year is too many & really hope that you have explained to your patients that steroids cause damage to all soft tissues no matter where they are injected; but especially in the back as they were not developed for the back! All I ask of all docs is to be up front & completely honest w/ me about all the pros and cons of any treatment/procedure/meds. then allow ME to decide what I am willing to risk for MY own body, without fear or punishment no matter what I choose!!

  8. patti at 10:23 pm

    Jeff MD. In response to your comments regarding patients coming in for pain relief with an epidural steroid injection.after back surgery ,I am sure you are correct that back surgery statistics have a higher incidence of complications but that is because there has been more reported data. I am someone who has tried to avoid surgery by going through epidural steroid injections. So if you would like to collect data and the facts I will share my story with you I am only one person but I know I am not alone. I first had injections four years ago a set of three ,had mild side effects on the first two with no pain relief. My third injection my blood pressure went sky high right after the procedure and two weeks later I ended up with bacterial pericarditis. I was informed by the emergency Dr. That the steroid injections lower your immunity to infections which was not disclosed to me by my pain management Dr. I refused to go through any more injections for the last four years after that incident. I tried everything to deal with the pain, pain meds physical therapy, massage I finally got to the point I couldn’t even walk,bend,lay down, or even sleep so I consulted with my primary care Dr. To see about surgery but because it had been four years I once again would have to go through pain management first which means epidural steroid injections again. I was in so much pain I decided to go through with it. My first injection was at the end of March 2014 I felt pain relief finally I was so happy but it only lasted about a month ,so they scheduled me for my second injection May 2nd 2014. It was the worst mistake I made from the moment I left I had severe pain numbness, pins and needles down my leg into my foot sharp pain like the needle was left in my spine. I called my Dr. and spoke with his nurse they said it was not normal and are referring me to a neurosurgeon. He didn’t even want to see me they canceled my third shot and made me disappear. My symptoms are not improving they are only getting worse. I DID NOT FEEL LIKE THIS UNTIL I HAD THE SECOND INjection. I don’t care what you as a pain management Dr. Says these are damaging people. And maybe you don’t have any severe side effect data because you aren’t following up on your patients if you are like the pain clinic I went to you run us through like cattle and do not follow up. A suggestion would be to interview everyone of your patients afterwards even months later maybe you will get a clearer picture of what’s going on!

  9. Jeff md at 8:25 pm

    I am a pain management physician and have done these injections for years. I have not seen the complication you or the fda discuss in my practice. i limit the injection to 5 per year. Most of my patients improve after the procedure. The majority have had a neck or back surgery and ask me to try a injection to relieve the pain. I admit the risk you list are possible but highly improbable. I think when you consider most of these are done to avoid a surgery and the complication of spine surgery the injections are beneficial. I have seen much high complication from spine surgeries than from epidural steroid injections. The majority of the chronic patients in my practice have had spine surgery. Many of these patients never tried a epidural injection prior to surgery. So to be fair look at the number of epidural steroid injection per year and the complications. I would like to see statistics. I have seen numerous patients referred for spine surgery by primary care and after surgery the patient is unable to return to work due to pain. I suggest you ask these individuals about their thoughts on the injections versus surgery.

  10. dr rajinder kaul . at 11:13 pm

    administration of steroids in the epidural space is the practice of neuro- surgeons / ortho- paedic surgeons. however following problems can be there with the patients . 1. all the side effects of steroids can come up with the pt. 2. pt. can develop . extradural abscess which can precipitate cold abscess and hence paraplegia . there-fore we should stop steroids for epidural injections forth- with. however pt. needs to be told to avoid these injections because they go for these things willingly .

  11. reta Jiminez at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for your great information.
    My Dr’s office called about contacting my United Health Insurance-Precriptions thru AARP Rx Medicare D
    To see if a preauthorization will bring the cost down?
    I am in a coverage gap or doughnut hole on my medication!
    Will keep you posted.
    Reta

  12. ginbug at 9:08 pm

    Reta, I am so glad that I have given you some piece of mind about your worries and would be more than happy for you to share all the info that I had to learn the hard way! You & many others like you, are the whole reason I share what has been done to me! If I can save 1 person from having to suffer the way I suffer, by giving them the info that I & WAY TOO MANY others were denied; it gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, my life can still serve some kind of purpose after all!!
    When you feel like you are lost & alone in the dark, it can be very scary; but when you reach out, despite your fear & total darkness, you will find that you are not alone as there are so many just as lost & scared as you are! The more you reach out, the more you will find, & the easier it will be to conquer your fears & find that flicker of light that will lead you out together!! BTW, I would love to hear what your doc says about all this if you would like to share. Again Reta, Thank YOU for listening( you have to idea how much just having someone to listen means to me!!) & taking responsibility for YOUR body by seeking out info YOURSELF, instead of blindly trusting that the medical community actually cares about you!! Remember that the biggest harm to you, is NOT asking questions!! Until docs start caring, start following & standing behind the sacred oath they all must make to all patients of “DO NO HARM” we all MUST do our “homework” to find out as much as we can about what treatments and/or meds. they want us to have! GODBLESS & GOODLUCK!!!

  13. Reta Coon-Jiminez at 10:35 am

    I appreciate your information.
    This makes me feel better.
    Knowing it is in the joint.
    I will show your report to my pain management Dr.
    If I may?
    Reta

  14. ginbug at 10:17 pm

    Reta, so glad to help. The difference between your hip injection & an epidural, is location. The steroids were developed for injections to the joints, not the back even though docs know this, they are allowed to use them off label despite the damage they can do. It is very easy for a doc to greatly damage your spine by blindly sticking needles into it. These injuries can effect your whole body & change your life forever! While all steroids can cause damage no matter where they are injected; but if they are carefully & rarely used, they can help those with severe joint inflammation conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, A LOT!! I myself have had many(way too many!) in my knees that really helped! However, because they have done too many along w/ 2 knee surgeries, I have extensive damage to all the soft tissues & little to no cartilage in my knees! While joint shots like this can have a benefit that outweighs the damage, docs need to stop doing so many so often and inform the patient about the big & very real risks involved in getting them so often & allow the patient to make an EDUCATED decision on if the benefit is worth the risk for themselves! I would give anything if I had been told about these things, especially about the epidurals!! They broke me & because they cannot fix what THEY have done or even admit it, I get treated like I did something wrong just because I need pain meds that happen to be addictive & abused( not by me) I & too many others went to them for help & all they did was take away EVERYTHING, with so little regard of us as fellow human beings! We are left as empty, broken shells of who & what we were before! COMPLETE & NEEDLESS SUFFERING beyond anything we could ever imagine is ALL we know now as we only EXIST & no longer LIVE!!
    NO ONE will answer for this!
    NO ONE will be punished for this!
    NO ONE will stop this!
    NO ONE will even care about this!
    WE MUST ALL FIGHT AGAINST THIS!!
    SHARE, TWEET, EMAIL, POST, STREAM, PROTEST, MARCH, WRITE, CALL, TALK, SCREAM, SHOUT, BARK, SQUEAK, MEOW, SING, SIGN, RAP, YODEL, WHISTLE, & WHATEVER else we can do to MAKE NOISE & let EVERYONE HEAR OUR CRIES!!! The more LOUD FIGHTERS we have, the HARDER it will be for them to go on IGNORING US!! Reta please feel free to email me any other questions you may have & if I don’t know the answer, I will help you find it!

  15. Derek at 9:28 pm

    Only 35 years too late the FDA needs to be held accountable and the doctors whom were quite aware of the harm they were causing. But were more interested in the almighty buck and the protection of the medical profession that controlled, NO strike that, control governments.
    The harm the FDA has caused WORLDWIDE in letting this continue they KNEW in 1969 but did nothing.

  16. Reta Coon-Jiminez at 2:43 pm

    I had a Sacroiliac Joint Injection in my right hip or right upper theigh.
    What is the difference from the epidermal?

  17. thomas bresnahan at 1:16 pm

    I would like to add for everyone who is on any pain medicine that they should ask their doctor to have this DNA test done. I will provide the link, it’s a company called YouScripts. They can tell what medications your body will or won’t metabolize. It will also give your doctor information so that the dose is right for your metabolic system.
    http://www.youscript.com/

  18. ginbug at 12:13 am

    Reta, I know what you mean, oxycontin is way too expensive!! There are many meds. that can be just as effective & even more effective & a LOT cheaper. Everyone is different & what works for one may not work for another. It also depends on what is causing your pain as opioids are not a one size fits all. You need to tell your doc that it is just too expensive & he should have no problem giving you something different. Be Careful of stopping a time release med. like oxycontin that you have been on for awhile as stopping “cold turkey” can be dangerous, so you need to let your doc know asap. I hope all goes well.

  19. patti at 10:15 pm

    Thank you for your advice and I will definitely follow on Facebook. I am so glad there is a site were people can get advice and just talk about what they are going through. I have a very understanding family and friends but it’s hard for them to really know how all this feels it’s nice to have support from people who are going through it.

  20. Thomas Bresnahan at 7:57 pm

    When all of this first started for me I lost my insurance because I was out of work. My doctor gave me Methadone for pain, it’s very inexpensive at $30 a month. The other alternative, and I did this once I learned about it, is to contact the Pharmacuetical Comp that makes your medicine. All of them offer programs to give you their drugs for free or at a very discounted price. I was on Nucynta ER and Nycynta IR for my pain, I’m still on both, the company that makes it has a foundation that covers the cost if you meet their income requirements. They will either give you a card that gives it for free or it will cover your deductible. I hope this helps!!

  21. Reta Coon-Jiminez at 5:49 pm

    I did get a shot for my mid lower right leg which took effect.
    I have Oxycodone which helps some and Oxycotin.
    What else can I take. My oxycotin under Centurylink prescription plan which is now AARP Medicare Rx D.
    Its at the pharmacy with a $271.00 bill wich I can’t afford to pay. What other Pain Medications are there???
    Reta

  22. thomas bresnahan at 4:20 pm

    Patti,
    I know how frustrating and confusing this can all be for someone. You don’t know who to trust, which is really sad considering we were all brought up to believe that doctors were the ones who would look out for us and do what was right. I belong to a FaceBook group called Arachnoiditis Everyday. We are a group of people who live with this pain everyday. We support each other and share the medications and procedures that are helping or hurting. I would also suggest you look at YouScripts.com this company does DNA testing to tell you what medications will and won’t metabolize in your body. I was on oxycontin and oxycodone for 2 years. I was in pain so severe I had to be brought into the hospital and had them knock me out. It turns out my body does not metabolize either one of these drugs.So they were doing nothing for my pain.
    Here is the link for our group. Good Luck!
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/EndArachNowASAP/

  23. ginbug at 1:18 am

    BL Elcenko- So very sorry about your father & while nothing can bring him back to you, a lawyer may be able to hold someone responsible for his death & your suffering!
    I don’t understand why doctors are STILL getting away w/ this! Everyone has become so focused on the so called pill epidemic & not making addicts, that they are able to do what ever they want to pain patients as long as it does not include pain pills!
    While I believe that long term, high dose opioids should be a last resort, I do believe that it should be the patients choice on what they want to do w/ their OWN bodies! All I want is to be given COMPLETE & HONEST info. on ALL RISKS & BENEFITS BEFORE making MY decision on MY treatment & if I do choose to take pain pills that have risk of addiction or dependence, so what!! I am an adult & if I’m not hurting anyone or committing crimes & getting relief from my 24/7 pain it is worth it for ME!! Why is having to take pain pills for the rest of my life any different than taking any other med. that does not heal & only manages the illness? These shots have caused me a 100 X’s more pain & suffering as my doc held my pain meds hostage unless I let him do these “treatments” in which he said would eliminate my need for any pain meds. All that was eliminated was my right to a happy & quality of life that I will never again have because of this hostage doctor & his greedy, self serving treatments, who could not care less what he did to me & countless others w/ the help of the fda!!

  24. Patti at 11:27 pm

    I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss, and it was a loss that should not have occurred. Its so scary that something like that can happen. I finally got an apt with neurosurgery in June so I hope I can get to the bottom of this. I really don’t want any one touching me after my experience with the epidural steroid injection but I don’t know what to do. feeling confused.

  25. BL Elcenko at 8:27 am

    My father had an epidural injection in his back for pain management (he had shots before). Within 48 hrs he was in such pain we took him to the ER and it was determined that he had an abcess on his spine as a direct result of this shot and contamination was suppected. He was dead in thirty days……our family misses our father who was taken from us.

  26. Patti at 9:39 pm

    About four years ago I went through a series of Epidural steroid injections in my L4 L5 S1 region. They were unsuccessful and I had some mild complications some numbness tingling in my legs worse back pain for a few days. I then had a consult with a neurosurgeon because the injections did not help I decided against surgery at the time because it was so invasive and to be honest it scared me. So I tolerated the pain with pain medication. I limited my activity to the point were I had no quality of life even the smallest things became to much for me to handle without resting for days. I finally consulted with my primary care physician to see if surgery was an option again and I was told I once again had to go through the epidural injections because it had been so long before I could see a surgeon. I was told its just the way it works. I had my first epidural injection the last week of March 2014 in my L5 S1. It was successful I couldn’t believe it. I had some mild side effects my back pain was intense for a few days, flushing of the skin but my numbness in my legs was gone. I got stronger by the day and felt like I had 50% of my life back. That was a lot for me. The relief lasted for about 4 weeks I started to feel the numbness in my legs and my back pain came back. They scheduled me for my second injection May 2nd 2014 it was the worst mistake I ever made. from the time I left the procedure department I felt like there was something wrong I had a difficult time feeling my legs my back hurt worse than I had ever felt. I had swelling were the injection sites were pain radiating down my whole spine. They checked on me two days later and I told them how I was feeling I was told that the nerves in my legs might just be aggravated by the medication and they would calm down. When nothing improved I called them back two days later and told them I was even worse they spoke with the doctor and I was told that there must be an underlining problem that he could not see in my CT scan and is referring me to a surgeon. I was told to take it easy and Waite to hear from the surgery dept. I have been sitting here for two weeks and I haven’t heard from any one. I can barley sleep because my back hurts so bad and my left leg feels like the nerves are going crazy all the way down to my toes. I feel like I have spiders crawling all over my leg. It hurts to walk, sit, bend over and even lay down. I am so frustrated I know that something went wrong when they put the needle in I felt nothing like this it was a completely different pain and I can barley even use my leg. What upsets me most is my Dr. did not explain that something like this could happen. His worst case scenario was a terrible headache and fever. For anyone considering this please do your research. I was in so much pain that I was willing to put myself through this and I put to much trust in a Dr…. I thought I was in good hands.

  27. Reta Jiminez at 6:45 pm

    I had a Sacroiliac Joint Injection on April 30th 2014.
    It seem to help!
    I am also on Oxycodone and Oxycotin.

    Is this the same as an Epidural Steroid Injection?

    I go to the Willamette Pain and Spine Center in West Linn Or.

  28. Gary at 4:02 pm

    I am happy to see that a patient may in fact be made aware that ESI’s and steroids like Depo Medrol are extremely dangerous when treating spinal cord issues. I wonder how many of these “medical professionals” who have been more than eager to play Russian roulette with our health would pull the trigger if the barrel was pointed at their heads. I doubt that any who knew the real risks would do so. Adhesive arachnoiditis is an extremely painful and debilitating disease and is one of the real risks of ESI’s. That it wasn’t even mentioned as a possible outcome is an insult to my sensibility.SHAME ON YOU FDA You know how many of us suffer unending pain every day from this steroid? this procedure?Do you even read the adverse reaction reports we file with you? ESI’s should be banned along with Depo medrol

  29. Mady Nolan at 5:24 am

    For those people that are suffering from having had these procedures, there are fantastic support groups to join. Arachnoiditis UK and Arachnoiditis Everyday (USA) I belong to the UK one and they really do help and support you. Both groups are not just for Arachnoiditis but Tarlov cysts, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. I hope this info helps and people will feel less isolated with their pain

  30. Thomas bresnahan. at 5:29 pm

    In response to Brenda, it’s the Pain Management Industry that has decided that patients “must” have injections before pain medications are prescribed, not the FDA. This is there way of lining their pockets by doing these procedures. They bill $1500-$2500 per injection. They will say they get $100 per injection. What they won’t tell you is they get to charge very high rates for their mini surgical suites they have in their offices. They bill for the medication, the procedure tray, a nurse etc. these pain management doctors are screwing the insurance companies and Medicare with these Useless procedures!! Want it to stop? Write to the FDA and Medicare!!

  31. thomas bresnahan at 2:23 pm

    I was harmed by a doctor who performed an Epidural Steroid Injection in 2009. The pain I live with every moment of everyday is excruciating! I have attached a link to my video about my experience. Please DO NOT allow any doctor to do this to you!!

  32. Brenda Smith at 11:47 am

    I have been forced by pain clinic to have injections or be discharged from pain clinic with out pain medication. Labels on bottles are great but patients don’t see them. Shame on FDA for not banning the painful useless money making procedures and for forcing so many restrictions on pain clinics and pharmacies. Medication cut 1/3 because of FDA influence.

  33. dr rajinder kaul . at 2:12 am

    thanks for information . I am not myself inclined to do extra -dural or epidural injections . however epidural anaesthesia becomes the only choise for pts with dilated cardiomyopathies for various surgeries .. regarding steroids for epidural ,I am highly against .

  34. ginbug at 8:46 pm

    Penny, I know exactly how you feel as I too have been made much worse! I have RA, FMS, & was sent to a pain specialist. At that time my worst pain was my knees & hips & after loading me up on a bunch of meds.(anti depressants, nsaids, muscle relaxers, & sleep rx meds.) However he would not refill my pain meds. which at the time were cut in half on my 1st visit. (vicoprofen 7.5mg 1-2 every 4-6 hrs. as needed down to only 3 per day!) until I agreed to let him do the injections in my back! This is what I refer to as a HOSTAGE doc.
    He used nothing to numb except for a topical cream (that sucked!) & no imaging! How getting shots in my back was going to help my knees is a mystery to me! The next morning it felt like someone had kicked my in the back & had a bad headache. When I called him, he said that the 1st 2-3 days afterward it would be bad & that once I get through those days, that I will be amazed how little pain if any. However after 2 weeks it had done nothing but make the pain worse! So he told me that some people & conditions needed more injections before getting the full effect of pain relief, so like a big dummy I let him do it again! This time it was 10x worse than the 1st and that night I was hit w/ my 1st ever migraine & thought I was going to die as I had NEVER experienced anything like that! My back was also very sore & very painful!! He actually wanted me to come back & get another in 3wks! I told him NO!! He told me that if I did not want to follow his treatment plan, then he could not continue to refill my meds as he would no longer be my doc! he would not even taper me off nor give me 1 last refill so that I could find a new doc!!
    So now here I was w/ a ton of new & much, MUCH worse pain that was all his fault & no doc or meds to help, not to mention having to deal w/ going through withdrawal from him cutting me of cold turkey!
    That was 18yrs. ago & still have all that pain that gets worse every year, plus due to these & many other docs “treatments” I have permanent damage that cannot ever be fixed! Between my back, knees, & hips i have had more steroids shot into me than a nfl quarter back which has caused massive tissue, nerve, & muscle damage!
    What about our rights to choose what medical care or treatments we want? While I believe that long term opioids should NEVER be a 1st choice; but a last resort, and people should educate themselves on the pros & cons on them & all treatments & not enter into the decision lightly! Above all It should come down to a patients choice on if they want to take the risk! Besides opioids while addictive, cause nowhere near the damage to your body that most other drugs do! It taken for legitimate pain as directed, they are actually one of the safest & least damaging drug on the market!!!
    It’s really funny(NOT!!) that when I don’t want to do a procedure that my heart doc wants to do, he has NEVER refused to be my doc or not refill my bp meds! This has to stop and the only way it will is to keep sharing these facts & showing “joe public” that there is another side to this so called epidemic and that there is a war on legitimate & suffering chronic pain patients!!!!

  35. Holly at 1:05 pm

    Epidural Steroid Injections are also a possible cause of Tarlov Cysts. They do, however, make Tarlov Cyst symptoms WORSE, but doctors DO NOT CARE!

    Patients with Tarlov Cysts are treated with disdain and hostility by most doctors, and Pain “Management” doctors insist that we undergo an ESI even though WE patients know it will make us worse!

    However, Pain Management doctors make much more money from an ESI as opposed to just writing a prescription!

    In my opinion, the vilification of anyone in pain needing pain medication is just good ol’ propaganda, supported by doctors
    wanting to make more money from patients in pain.

  36. Donna Ratliff at 12:22 pm

    I agree that these are dangerous! My mother has had a few of these injections in 2012 and NO joke.. she has bruisies still and a great deal of pain at every injection site for the caudal she got. Now she can’t walk without a walker and she wasn’t nearly this bad before those shots! Yes she had pain but not the kind of pain and immobility she has now.
    I had an epidurals with both my children. The one I had with my second child was very scary! I returned home after giving birth and having 2 small babies to take care and couldn’t! I had a fever, severe migraines, and horrible wide spread body pain for over 3 months after having that. Yes! A fever daily for over 3 months! So.. I will never allow any needles to enter my spine ever again after that experience. I honestly thought, it would never stop. Very scary!
    So.. I also agree that the FDA should make these illegal ! Even for off label use ! I haven’t heard any good results from anyone, ever about those.. Thank GOD they are finally investigating this now.

  37. penny at 7:57 am

    Hi i just want to say on this matter I’ve had several of the injections and they burned off some of my nerves. NEVER HELPED AND THEY KNEW THIS. I got one more because my back doctor told me she’s really good and it will help well let me say. I WILL NEVER GO TO PAIN MANAGEMENT AGAIN. she did an epidural and right after that evening my head started hurting really bad then it turned in to a migraine i started hurting in my spine and called my doctor she saw me right away and my head was mushy yes it’s in my record and i had that migraine for 3months no joke i went t neurologist and she felt it and gave me mri the same day and nothing came back but i have suffered with back pain since my accident an surgery and i was told to see pain management and did for years and over and over told them it’s not helping. My spine and back is constantly in pain idc if they try and make me go to them again i will never go to pain management AGAIN AND ITS SAD THAT I AS WELL AS OTHERS GO THROUGH WHAT I HAVE AN RUINED ME PAIN MANAGEMENT It SHOULDN’T BE ALL ABOUT SHOTS IN YOUR BACK. YOU NEED TO TAKE IT OFF THE MARKET PERIOD.