More pain when rhizotomy wears off...anyone?

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Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 19
   Posted 5/15/2012 3:47 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello - I haven't posted in awhile but I had a question.  I have had 3 rhizotomy's in a row now over the last 2 years.  I had them on both sides of my lower back (L4-S1) and each time they seem to last exactly 4 months.  I get pretty good pain relief for the nerve pain and have a 5mcg butrans patch for back pain.  My problem is that when they wear off, which happens suddenly, the pain comes back to a level 8.  It is hot nerve pain that is so diabiliating that I can't sit, stand, sleep without it bringing tears to my eyes.  It takes forever to get an appointment with my PM doctor and I am only allowed to do these twice a year so I always have this strange 2 month gap where I go from high functioning to almost bed-ridden.  I asked my PM to prescribe so I can take 2 vicodin's a for morning and one for night and it seems so difficult to even get that for pain relief that it drives me crazy even having to ask for it. 
I am venting here but my real question is, does anyone have increased nerve pain after they get these done?  I feel like I am stuck in a weird cycle now that I can't get out of and I can't imagine doing this for the rest of my life.  I am irritated that I have gone from taking 1 Tramadol a day to manage pain and now I am up to narcotics and Lyrica because my pain has increased since I started receiving pain management treatment for it.  I haven't been working for 5 years since this pain started after pregnancy and I can't solve it enough to go back to work and hold down a job.  Is there anyone else out there doing these ablation's contiuously?  I wonder if I stopped, that the re-generated nerves would finally calm down.  I tried to wait 3 months in-between last time and I was absolutely dying.  Please help with some advice!
Successful L4/L5 laminectomy 2000. Tore L5/S1 in 2007 after accident. Chronic nerve pain which I have been trying to solve for 4 years. Recently diagnoised with fibro due to upper back pain with tender trigger points. Tried every type of doctor and every type of treatment available with minimal success.

New Member

Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/15/2012 6:20 PM (GMT -6)   
Swaye, I've had rhizotomies also, they last about 4-6 months for me.  I have noticed when it stops working the pain is worse than ever.  I'm going in June for more back shots if the back Dr. is willing to do so without cortisone steroids.  The cortisone shots helped more than the rhiz's did.  But I have diabetes so the cortisone is not good for my blood sugars.  I cannot understand the unwillingness of your Dr. to prescribe the pain meds for you.  I have no problem.  Have you been to a pain clinic?  One medicine that helps my back, knee and hip pain is the ointment Voltaren Gel.  It's a script but in-between times when you are waiting for pain meds, you could use it.  I have had great luck with that.  It is available as Diclofenac as an oral pill, but I find the gel works better and is better for your body to use the gel.  Good luck.  Brenda
Dx'd with: lupus, hbp, sleep apnea, spinal stenosis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, GERD, osteoarthritis, some rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, insomnia, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary hypertension, edema, have knee replacement and hip replacement, tinnitis and probably more, but I feel glad to be alive and kicking (not too high) !

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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16804
   Posted 5/15/2012 6:41 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Swaye, sorry to hear that your are having so much trouble. Like you said I know these can be repeated every 6 months, but I do not know anyone that has done them continuously for a long time. I know when they are done the drs claim the pain may lessen for up to a year depending on how fast the nerve regenerates. Everyone is different so it is an individual thing.

Something I am wondering about with you is how much scar tissue you have built up from having these done. A 4 month reprieve does not sound like a very long time but when you are in horrible pain it can sound like a lifetime at the moment. Is is possible you are also having Fibro flare-ups when these wear off. Last but not least, it sounds like perhaps your condition is getting worse, which is not uncommon. Are you on any of the nerve meds for Fibro and does it help? I too wonder what would happen if you stopped the procedures for a bit to see what happens.

I hope you can get an appt to go in and talk to your dr about this and not have to wait so long. Take care...Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 19
   Posted 5/15/2012 7:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the replies Susie & Brenda - the pain is very specific when the rhizotomies wear off. It is not like fibro pain or even back pain. It is like 'hot' nerve pain as if they are on fire. At first I didn't exactly put this together that it was from the rhrizo's wearing off. I just happen to be hit head on around the middle of October but only at around 30 miles an hour. I thought because of the accident that it caused the problem the last time but now that I have repeated it once again, I can see the pattern from the 3 in a row. I didn't seem to have the flare up so much the first time and I only did one side instead of both so maybe that made a difference.

I take Lyrica for fibro pain and it does seem to help a bit with this nerve pain too but vicodin is the only thing that reduces that hot, burning pain. It starts as soon as I wake up and start walking or standing so I know it has to do with movement or inflammation. I am trying to explain this to the doctor and she said it sounded unusual. I know 4 months is not a long time to be okay and feel worse but I am only taking the doctor's advice and she keeps telling me that they usually last longer each time and that people don't usually have to keep repeating them over the years. I still can't figure out why I seem to always have the 'unusual' problems and nobody seems to be able to help me long term. Every doctor, chiro, massage therapist, MD, trigger point therapists eventually says they can't help me and I don't know why I don't get better. Right now I am being told it might be a food allergy and my body is reacting to that. More money out the door and of course, I have been denied for any disability because I was not disabled enough. It is hard to find the energy to keep fighting this. I feel so bad for really sick people who need the help like yesterday.....

Yes, Susie - I did buy the Voltaren gel onlne through Amazon which took about 2 months to come from the UK. It does help a bit but not enough to really get me through a night sleep. Thanks for all your advice. If anyone else has anything to offer, I would greatly appreciate it!

P.S. My doctor is very technically good which is why I think the rhizo's work for me. I do think that her clinic may have been targeted though because now everyone has to take mandatory drug test monthly and suddenly you have to tell her exactly how many pills you are taking a day and she will only write a prescription out for that many pills and not one single more. This means you can never do too much in case you flare it up and run short. It seems an unusual way to live. I feel like I can't do anything and my mornings are spenting counting my medicine to make sure I can make it to my next appointment. swaye
Successful L4/L5 laminectomy 2000. Tore L5/S1 in 2007 after accident. Chronic nerve pain which I have been trying to solve for 4 years. Recently diagnoised with fibro due to upper back pain with tender trigger points. Tried every type of doctor and every type of treatment available with minimal success.
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