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New to sciatica, would like clarification

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:17 pm
by JMM
Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the website and the forum and just recently (yesterday) started experiencing some pretty severe discomfort that would appear to be sciatica nerve pain.

I have a general question. If the sciatica pain is the result of a bulging disk, will icing actually help to alleviate the pain? Or is sciatica pain actual damage to the nerve (like spraining a ligament in your back) so that the pain will persist until the nerve heals?

If I'm totally off in the way I'm diagnosing please correct me.



PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:55 am
by randolph
Hello Jeff

Dean's Pain Relief Manual recommends some good home treatments for pain ... and icing is part of it. I recommend downloading that book for starters, to get some good ideas on when to ice, how to do it, etc. His icing/heating treatment provided great relief for me during my first few weeks of sciatica, and minimized the OTC NSAIDs I needed to take to get to sleep.

Have you seen a GP on the cause of your sciatica? One of the important first steps on the sciatica adventure is to find out the basic cause(s) of your sciatica symptoms. Most of the time, it's "garden variety" stuff ... but it's good to get a doctor to eliminate weird, more complicated dysfunctions that can get worse if you assume, incorrectly, that you've got "just" a bulging disc. MRIs are a typical, frequently reliable, diagnostic aid, but a good GP can usually make a good diagnosis without an MRI.

If you haven't read Dean's articles on sciatica, please do: they'll answer a lot of your questions. Here's my 2 cents worth. Sciatica pain that becomes chronic numbness and loss of muscle control is possibly indicative of nerve damage (a red flag to orthopedic and nuero-surgeons). Apparently, as much as it hurts, intense sciatica pain that is "just" pain is not the result of nerve damage, but of nerve irritation. However, too much irritation can lead to damage. (One reason we lay off the stretches and exercises if doing them hurts). So the nerve is not damaged like a ligament; other tissues (like bulging discs, abnormal bone growths or positions, etc) are damaged and they irritate the nerve. So a lot of sciatica treatments (e.g. microdiscectomy) focus on eliminating the tissue that is irritating the nerve to stop the nerve irritation. If this is not clear, I wouldn't be surprised; what we mean when we say "nerve damage" is one of those imprecise phrases that needs clarification. Please ask more questions till you get it; it really helps in your rebuilding efforts to get a feel for what is happening between your sciatic nerve and all the various tissues that make up our spine. If you REALLY want to get into the physiology of what's happening in your lumbar spinal area, read Dr. Stuart McGill's book on lower back disorders.

Hope this helps ... and welcome to the forum.