For as long as he can remember, Andy Cordova, 52, has fostered a love for competition. After years spent wrestling and boxing, he pivoted to running and found a new passion in racing.
But after completing a 5K and 10K over one weekend in May 2022, Andy began experiencing pain in the left side of his back, with the feeling of numbness and weakness traveling all the way down his left leg. He was put on muscle relaxers, but several days later, a pinched nerve sent a shooting pain that brought Andy to his knees.
When Andy went to the emergency room, an MRI revealed he had a bulging, herniated disc. Additionally, he had scoliosis, and the curved spine was pinching the disc. Andy was given a shot of cortisone, referred to a chiropractor, and told to start intense physical therapy. He was also referred to Hiral Patel, MD, interventional pain specialist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
Patel told Andy he wouldn’t need surgery. Instead, she recommended, along with physical therapy and oral medications, a series of lumbar epidural steroid injections, in which anti-inflammatory steroids are injected into the epidural space around the spinal nerves in the lower back to relieve chronic pain. In July and August 2022, Andy underwent two lumbar epidural steroid injections.
In the year-and-a-half since the procedure, Andy is feeling well and has run in races, including the Houston Half-Marathon, the Galveston Half-Marathon, and multiple runDisney races with no increased pain.
“It’s important that you do everything your doctors are telling you. You’ve got to put in the work,” Andy said. “Don’t be scared to try different things.”
At the Bedside is a series of patient stories with UTHealth Houston physicians and staff.