Newcomer with questions and need of support/hope

Discussions related to Sciatica and Leg Pain

Newcomer with questions and need of support/hope

Postby tlc » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:37 pm

Hi,
After a long bout of sciatica leading to weakness of my calf, tingling in/on my foot, etc..my doctor ordered an MRI. I got a short email from him letting me know that it showed a disc protrusion causing pressure on the nerve root in the lower back and that he's consulting with a spine surgeon.
I have so many questions like what sorts of things would cause further injury-why is he consulting with a surgeon, will it get better on its own? I bought Dean's books and downloaded them. My physical therapist said she doesn't want me doing anything but ice, meds and traction. Being a really active person who's been sidelined by this I'm finding it difficult to accept and no idea what to do. I have no knowledge of the back. I'd love to hear from you about what your experiences have been-I could use some hope/faith, etc.

Thanks
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Re: Newcomer with questions and need of support/hope

Postby Jeanette » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:21 pm

tlc wrote:Hi,
After a long bout of sciatica leading to weakness of my calf, tingling in/on my foot, etc..my doctor ordered an MRI. I got a short email from him letting me know that it showed a disc protrusion causing pressure on the nerve root in the lower back and that he's consulting with a spine surgeon.
I have so many questions like what sorts of things would cause further injury-why is he consulting with a surgeon, will it get better on its own? I bought Dean's books and downloaded them. My physical therapist said she doesn't want me doing anything but ice, meds and traction. Being a really active person who's been sidelined by this I'm finding it difficult to accept and no idea what to do.
Thanks


Hi tic -- Downloading Dean's books is a great place to start. Read through them, and also take a look at the articles he's posted online. I think they'll help you understand how the back works and what a lot of the current thinking about therapy is. He also has provided a number of links that may provide more information for you.

Your doctor's consultation with a surgeon is fairly typical, but it doesn't mean you'll need surgery. (If you look at the literature, there are a lot of people out there walking around with "disc protrusions," and many of them are completely asymptomatic.)

The PT's advice sounds like a prescription for "tincture of time" which is most often what you need to provide for sciatica until the nerve(s) settle down and the pain subsides. Ice can feel good if you have areas of obvious inflammation, and some folks have found that a short time in a jacuzzi or hot tub provide some relief as well. Also, there are some exercises in Dean's book on pain management -- some are more like relief positions than exercise -- that many of us have found helpful. Share them with your PT.

Some medication may be necessary at first to relieve inflammation and muscle tension to enable healing, but aim for the minimum you can tolerate. In my experience anyway, at least during normal waking hours, an OTC product, like ibuprofen or aspirin -- if it takes the edge off but doesn't allow you to forget that you need to take it easy -- can be helpful until the irritation and inflammation subside. Naturally, you'll want to consult with your physician, but make sure he knows you don't want to rely strictly on medication.

(Ironically, the danger with medications -- especially the strong ones that really kill the pain -- is that it's easy to overwork your back because you don't feel enough pain. Save the strong stuff for getting to sleep if you can't sleep any other way.)

When you've been active, it's difficult to slow down. Just remind yourself as you're healing that you do want to be active again, and this is a small price to pay. And once the pain subsides and you get through the acute phase, focus on rebuilding. And speaking from experience, build it into your lifestyle because, ultimately, it's all about prevention.

Good luck with the program.
Jeanette
 
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Postby Jeanette » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:52 pm

Oops, sorry, TLC. I misread that! Small print and/or dirty glasses. Mea culpa :oops:
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Re: Newcomer with questions and need of support/hope

Postby SeafordMdf » Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:40 am

tlc wrote:My physical therapist said she doesn't want me doing anything but ice, meds and traction.


Hmm ,

That's interesting :?:

The 3 PT's I have seen have been most keen to get an Exercise program going and Avoid medications .

Jeanette raises some good points with regards the medications , I find Paracetamol the most effective , Ibroprofen was good for about the first 24 tablets and now has little effect , Asprin - That's one I may try ?

I can't see that light excercise ( Such as in the book ) would cause any troubles :?:

What does your MD advise ?
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Postby SeafordMdf » Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:15 pm

@ Jeanette - Asprin :D Tried that - Works a treat :D

No more Ibroprofen or Paracetamol for me thank you 8)

Thanks for the idea !

@ TLC - How are you progressing ?

Good , I hope ? :)
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I know how you feel

Postby Rupert » Tue Jul 18, 2006 9:10 am

Tlc.

ur PT is right abt exercises and Traction. About 2 months ago i faced the same thing, being an avid sports lover I tried to work out/exercise. I stopped once my wife made me to as I believe it made it worse. Then later on MRI found broad based herniation. I would say during the acute period listen to your body pain. Just rest and do ice. Once Inflamm. dies down then start PT program even there listen to your pain.

Good Luck
Rupert. PA
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Postby SeafordMdf » Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:42 am

Just a footnote / update on my Asprin comments .

Well like the Ibuprofen it worked great for about the first box of 24 tablets :(

Well back to Paracetamol , It seems to be the most reliable OTC pain relief
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Postby ricecracker » Sun Oct 08, 2006 2:31 am

hello everyone,

I am grateful to have found this site and now appreciate how sciatica affects many people. Like many of you I have led an active life. I am a mom to a wonderful, beautiful little girl whom I love more than life itself, and she has kept me busy from the day she was born. My pain started last week. At first, it was a slight pain, which I ignored. I worked out vigorously as usual for days after the onset of pain, and found the pain to get worse. My pain has been on the left side, but this evening I felt pain on my right side and it was more than I can bear. I just lost it and just sobbed.

I have been to my doctor (saw her this past Thurs) and she has not had much to say other than it would take about a month to get better. I am so ignorant about these things because I have never had a problem with my back ever, which is why I did not ask too many questions. This leads me to my next point--she did not say a whole lot other than lay off kicking (I did a lot of cardio kickboxing), no hills (isn't it lovely that I live on a hill?). She finds me healthy and strong and sees nothing chronic to result from this. But after reading a lot on this, one thing that I foiund is there is NO certainty when it comes to this affliction.

This leads me to mention my depression. My exercises have been my anti-depressant, so to speak. You see, I have battled debilitating depression all my life, and finally, I got off meds for it and began exercising six months ago after I recovered from pneumonia. It boosted my self-confidence and energy. But now I found myself thinking about wanting to die--back to square one when I used to get suicidal. I know this is terrible, selfish, and self-indulgent, but I cannot help how I am feeling right at this very moment. I don't have much social support--I have no close friends in the area, and my husband is not very supportive and too busy to care right now.

I feel isolated (I don;t drive. I know, I am a mess of a human being), angry, confused, and scared.



This site means a lot to me--to be able to read how others are coping, healing , or have healed. I hope to find the strength somehow, in some way.

Since It just happened, I haven't had the chance to have tests other than than the perfunctory ones at my primary care doc's office--so, I am not fully aware of the severity. I am afraid to start any exercises for fear that I may make things worse. Do any of you have any advice for someone who is totally lost and still new at this?
Thanks for reading this. I will refer to this site as a source of inspiration as well information.
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Postby randolph » Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:50 am

Hello ricecracker!

So glad you made it here. You are not alone, and there is hope. A lot of it.

Sounds like your husband is having as hard a time of it as you are. We all vowed to our spouses that we'd love also during "sickness" as well as health ... but when the sickness happens to the spouse ... it always comes too soon and at the wrong time (I mean, we've all got PLANS!) A suggestion: repeatedly, nice as you can in spite of your great pain, just ask him for help. Not a general request, but something specific like, "honey, it really hurts to stand for more than a minute; could you do the vacuuming tonight?" If he's anything like me, he really wants to help, but just doesn't know what to do ... so he does nothing, which can look like unfeeling lack of concern. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe your husband reallly is a "Prince Charles" type ... but maybe not. He did have the sense to marry you. Also, if he's never experienced back pain, he just doesn't know how much pain you are experiencing. I mean, he knows in his head, but he just can't relate. It might help to relate your pain to something really painful he knows about, like getting kicked in the groin ... over and over again.

Thoughts of suicide and feelings of depression, fear, anger, and especially confusion, are completely natural reactions to this great change in your life. Especially early on. But you will make it. Others have. I'm mostly an idiot, and RYB is working for me. And besides, you've experienced childbirth (I'm assuming here) so the things you'll need to do to beat this will be a snap compared to that. But even if you haven't gone thru the "joys" of childbirth, you have the right attitude for successfully rebuilding your back; just ask your little girl. So, yes, not only is there a lot of hope for you, you're emminently qualified to succeed in rebuilding your back. A lot of what you're feeling will go away as you read Dean's books, as you find out how much is really known about sciatica, and as you succeed with the exercises.

You've taken the right, first step: you've seen your GP. And apparently you're otherwise is good health. It's frustrating to have your GP basically throw up her hands and say, you'll be fine ... but the silver lining on that dark cloud is the fact that she didn't say there's a tumor growing in your back or something yucky like that. And it sounds like she's right on track by recommending you lay off the kickboxing and hiking.

Can your husband or a friend help you with the chores and other daily activities of life that are difficult for you now? It's really important to avoid doing anything that causes any sciatic pain in your back, hip or leg(s), so your nerve can heal. Then slowly, gradually, increase your activity.

You should have no problem giving the beginning RYB exercises a try. Again, just don't do any exercises or stretches that cause a flare up of the sciatic pain. Most likely (guessing again) you can do the exercises a bit before it goes OUCH. Even the little bit you can do is really helpful, and will increase week to week as you exercise.

If you can afford it, having an MRI is nice; possibly eliminates a lot of anxiety about what exactly is going on down there. But it's really not necessary for most lower back disorders.

Hope this helps some. The being alone and scared part is really tough, maybe even worse than the actual, physical pain of sciatica, especially at the beginning. Please come back often, keep posting, and thanks so much for coming here, and giving us a chance to help.

Randolph
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Postby ricecracker » Sun Oct 08, 2006 11:19 am

Randolph,

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and most especially for your thoughtful and encouraging reply. Also, thank you for your understanding. I truly appreciate it. Yes, I did give birth to my girl, and it was the best day of my life in spite of the pain.

I just wanted to say that I am taken aback by the kindness and support that everyone has for one another here. I am not used to it in the real world, frankly. I need understanding and compassionate ears, in this case, eyes, right now, and I have found the place to get them. My husband’s job is extremely demanding emotionally and intellectually, and I cannot impose on him for any kind of support right now.

I do have a few questions and I know you get a lot of them, so I will thank you or anyone for taking the time to answer them:

1. Is it helpful to take Ibuprofen for healing, or is it strictly for pain relief? Is it important at this stage to control inflammation?

2. Is the spreading to the right side within normal? Has anyone else had this experience?

3. Should I go to a physical therapist while still early in the recovery? The reason I ask is that I don’t trust myself to follow Dean’s suggestions—I am very insecure about screwing up. This leads me to Q no.4


4. Ack, I donated and did the dumbest thing and forgot to go back to merchant. I would have to do it again. Do I need special software to download, or is it fairly simple procedure? I am an idiot when it comes to these things—I mostly deal with Word on a daily basis.

5. When my doctor said 4 weeks of recovery--I wonder if she just randomly said this, or says this to a lot of sciatica patients, or could it be based on my health and her findings from the exam? What did your doctor/s say about projected healing time? I hate asking her questions and bothering her by calling--I feel like, pardon the pun, a real pain in the ass.


Thanks again for your replies.
ricecracker
 
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Postby tomcat » Tue Oct 10, 2006 5:50 am

Hi Ricecracker,

from what i've read, most people with sciatica are fine in a month or so. hope you fall in that category. since you don't have a history of back problems, you are probably better off than most of us here.

based on my experience, i think it is important to take something to control inflammation. it should reduce pressure on the nerve and minimize nerve damage

i found the RYB book easy to follow, but i had 20 sessions of PT and many of the exercises and stretches are the same. i wish i had done something earlier, rather than wait a few weeks and hope it would clear up, but i guess most folks do just get better.

Dean will email you a link to download the book. i found this out the hard way by not following the directions.

good luck, Tom
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Postby ricecracker » Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:29 am

from what i've read, most people with sciatica are fine in a month or so. hope you fall in that category. since you don't have a history of back problems, you are probably better off than most of us here.



I am hoping that I am one of the 95 percent my doctor quoted who get better in a short period of time. So, is it the history of back problem that can be a factor in healing time, among many factors of course, I am assuming. Just an update, I went to see her again yesterday and she has referred me to a physiotherapist and podiatrist for my suspicions of separate foot problems. I am flat-footed and have no arch support at all. In any case, I may have damaged my feet during the vigorous work-outs, also threw my back for carrying heavy bag on low heels walking uphill.

anyway, I hope the physiotherapist helps--I'm looking forward to working toward healing.


based on my experience, i think it is important to take something to control inflammation. it should reduce pressure on the nerve and minimize nerve damage



This is what I was thinking, too, that even when pain is not present, it would help in reducing pressure to minimize nerve damage.

Oh, it's okay--I just donated to the site twice more than I would have. I did it again and got the book. I sigh at my stupidity sometimes.

thank you for your input tomcat. I appreciate it.
ricecracker
 
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Postby randolph » Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:45 pm

[/quote]

is it the history of back problem that can be a factor in healing time, among many factors of course... In any case, I may have damaged my feet during the vigorous work-outs, also threw my back for carrying heavy bag on low heels walking uphill.

hey, Ricecracker

One of the very interesting ideas that Dean writes about in his books is just how we get a bad back. The common myth, like you've written above, is that we do one bad thing ... then POP ... out goes our back. The incovenient truth is: it usually takes years of daily abuse to our back to finally have something as simple as carrying a heavy bag up a hill reveal the weakness in our back. Day after day we micro-traumatize and gradually weaken our backs: we don't warm it up before heavy work, we don't stretch, we don't rest adequately or take breaks frequently enough, we sit in the same position for hours and hours, we don't exercise. It's somewhat analagous to breaking a wire by repeatedly bending it back and forth, over and over and over again.

The time of healing is, in very large part, up to you. Rebuild your back ... and also learn how to do the daily activities of life in back-friendly ways, and you have the recipe for being able to carrying a heavy bag uphill ... and not worry about "throwing your back out".

This personal responsibility for rebuilding our own back is not a very popular option. It's easier to opt for surgery to make the quick fix, or find a strong enough drug to mask the pain. But like so many other things we do for ourselves, it's cheaper and in the long run for most people, the most effective option.

Randolph
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