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Burning anke and shin

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 4:36 am
by TheShadow
Hello Everyone

This is my first post with RYB so please forgive me if I am crossing threads.

5 weeks ago, I had a stiff back for a couple of days, nothing to write home about, and I thought it had cleared up as there was no pain. I played a game of golf with no ill effects, I then went to the local shops to buy a newspaper and by the time I had driven home it was almost impossible to get out of the car. The pain in my thigh was so bad I could neither stand nor walk. It wasn't until I had been sent to hospital 3 times (over a period of 2 1/2 weeks) that I was finally given an MRI scan. The doctors have diagnosed an L4/L5 disc prolapse (lateral).

What I dont understand is that I don't have any back pain, just severe thigh pain/ache and an excrutiating continuous burning pain in my left side ankle (right foot) and a severe burning to the shin (right leg).

I am beginning to be able to walk very gingerly, but the most unpleasant part is the burning pain. Dean's book, RYB, suggests treating the affected area with hot and cold packs, but what area do I treat? If the problem is caused by a prolapse should the treatment be on the back? I have been placing ice packs on the effected burning parts, but I only get slight relief by doing this.

Will this burning ever settle because I cannot bear clothes touching these areas, i.e sock or trousers.

Any help or information especially about the burning will be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks


PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:15 pm
by randolph 2
Hi Robert

The pain of sciatica, like yours, is REFERRED pain - while the injury is in the spine, the effects, the pain you've described so well, are felt elsewhere. The herniated disc material reacts with the sciatic nerve at the spine, but the pain is felt anywhere along the entire length of the nerve, back to foot. Oddly, there is usually no pain in the back.

I used Dean's recommended alternating of hot/cold packs on my lower back to successfully reduce my referred pain (that was similar to yours) during the day; and took recommended doses of naproxen sodium (aleve) to get some sleep during the first two months when the pain prevented sleep. Basically just lied on a partially frozen, filled hot water bottle, and alternated with an electric heating pad while the bottle was re-freezing. Not much fun, but effective.

The pain lessens gradually as your body heals and cleans up the disc material affecting the sciatic nerve. I'm not aware of any drug or treatment that accelerates healing. It just takes it's time, regardless of your schedule; it can take longer than you think you can stand it, but progress is sure if you refrain from re-injuring the affected disc(s). In my case, the severe pain lasted about 6 weeks, but the hip, shin, and ankle pain was a bother for almost a year.

The key word is patience. Plus diligence with the physcial therapy like RYB.

Good luck

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:51 am
by TheShadow
Hi Randolph

Thank you so much for your kind reply.

I suppose patience is the only way forward. I will carry on with the ice and heat method and just hope the burning will lessen gradually.

Once again thank you for going to the trouble of replying to my plea.

Best wishes


PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:34 am
by randolph 2
Hello again, Robert

Just wanted to throw in an important caveat: patience is appropriate IF (big IF) you are making steady (even if slow) improvement.

The orthopaedic surgeon whom I consulted after my herniated disc diagnosis recommended a microdiscectomy, but approved my decision to try physcial therapy (like RYB) AS LONG AS I WAS MAKING STEADY IMPROVEMENT ... which, thankfully, occurred. He said if not much improvement after 6-8 weeks, consider less conservative treatments, like the microdiscectomy. Short of the operation, drug treatments like epidurals have been helpful for some.

The doc said (this seems the prevalent medical opinion) that if your body isn't healing the ruptured disc and you wait too long to treat the neuropathy of sciatica, damage to the nerve can be permanent. I'm inclined to believe that the window of opportunity is longer than 2 months; the length of time you can wait is still a controversial matter in medicine (meaning no one really knows ... varies by patient). The surgeon I consulted made his living from doing several microdiscectomies every work day ... so I figured his advice would be biased towards infuencing me to get the operation. I had severe nerve pain for almost a year (that has healed without surgery) and 3 years later, there are only very minor residual affects (momentary muscle cramping).

But I think the main take home message is: as weird and intense as the sciatic pain is, the body usually seems quite capable of healing without radical intervention. Like a broken bone that heals, we provide an environment that insulates the affected bone from further trauma, but in the case of sciatica, it's also helpful to stretch and exercise the muscles and ligaments around the nerve (without causing pain) ... thus the efficacy of physical therapies like RYB.