Sciatica since 1 month - Ouch!

Discussions related to Sciatica and Leg Pain

Sciatica since 1 month - Ouch!

Postby Clairembart » Fri Oct 05, 2007 11:20 am

Hello, I just found this BB and it seems filled with caring rational experienced people. I like that.

Please note that I speak French - so my English might look a little funny at times.

I've had back problems since I had a skiing accident 4 years ago. But I always found exercises - and treatments - to somehow get back to shape. One month ago, I moved my torso forward to tie my walking boots after a long hike and I heard a "clunk" in the lumbar area. A few days later as I was stretching my lower back and butts muscles, something went wrong (I was stretching the piriformis muscle mostly) and pain developed along the sciatic nerve. Now since 4 weeks I feel a rather intense burning pain from my buttocks all the way down to my toes - with my ankle being the worse (it feels squished by a giant hand)

I saw a young and gentle chiropractor - she thinks my bone structure is fine and this is a muscle / ligaments issue. She suggested I see a therapist who works on soft tissue.
I saw a osteopath - he thinks there is a blockage in my lumbar area (L2 to L5) and did some manipulations to correct it. It was painful and did not seem to help.
I saw a sport therapist and she believes it is the so-called piriformis syndrome. She treated me with TENS and stretches and suggested some exercises.

It's all nice but nothing seems to help so far. They all say that my sciatica is not the regular type (?) Is there a regular type?

It hurts when I am laying down on my back, or on my front. But not on my side.
It hurts when I stand up - but not if I sit.
It hurts if I lean backward but not forward.
It hurts if I try to lift my leg (left) from my hip. But it doen't if I lift the thigh and bring it back to my chest.

If I am sitting the pain dsappears to the point where I start believing it is completely gone. But the second I satnd up a sharp pain goes all the way down to my toes.

What's not regular about this? Or is it similar to what others are expesiencing? I feel lost because I do not understand what happened or what is happening in my body? I am generally healthy and physically active (not now though!). I walk, hike, do some exercices at home with light weights. I go kayaking and canoeing when I can. I eat well, I am thin and rather flexible for a 55 years old guy.

This is not fun. I have seen many people complaining of sciatica before. I never knew how debilitating it can be. Now I know.

Any insights will be welcome.

Clairembart
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Postby randolph » Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:13 pm

Hello Clairembart (it's been 30 years since my college French classes - how is your name pronounced - Clah-raim-barr? Your English is a whole lot better than my French .. in fact your English is better than a lot of English we see around here)

It's my limited understanding that "sciatica" is a general term for a collection of symptoms (sort of like "cold" covers a whole range of symptoms); no one has every symptom, but most have a number of symptoms from the collection. Your symptoms sound typical, for either piriformis syndrome (piriformis muscle induced pressure on the sciatic nerve) or sciatica caused by bulging or herniated lumbar disc(s) pressing on the sciatic nerve. Pressure on the sciatic nerve can also be caused by tumors (benign or cancerous) near it, injury to surrounding tissue like bone (as in your skiing accident most probably), or other less frequent causes. I'm assuming you've gotten a good diagnosis from a general practitioner to eliminate tumor caused sciatica. Chiros, and sport therapists, are sometimes not trained to look for causes for sciatica that cannot be treated by physical therapy. A competent GP can do some simple tests on you to see what kind of sciatica you've got; MRIs might also be recommended to verify the diagnosis. My sister was diagnosed today with a large cancerous tumor growing near her left hip joint; she endured sciatica-like symptoms for three months while receiving ineffective manipulations from a misguided chiropractor, who completely missed the cancer. The pain got so bad last week, that she finally (3 months late) got the correct diagnosis from a GP and orthopedic surgeon. See the GP first.

Indeed .. sciatica is not fun. I don't know what's worse: the actual pain ... or not knowing what's going on inside your body. I'd find out what exactly is going on in your body; if it's "garden variety" (typical) sciatica, then you'll rest easier knowing that your pain will subside within a month or two (usually), though right now it feels like you'll never be the same again. The pain of sciatica is incredibly intense, but physical therapy, like RYB, is remarkably effective in ending it so you can start canoeing again. But to repeat: make sure you are trying to help your body heal from something that can be helped by physical therapy.

Hope this helps some, Randolph
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Sciatica Mysteries

Postby B » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:05 pm

Hi Clairembart

See my previous post under the name Beet. Somehow I couldn't get signed on with that login and rebuilt my registration as B.

I am 53 - moderately active, last summer was swimming a few miles a week and then did something to my lower back, much like you. Could not deny the pain, it was excruciating. Couldn't walk, sit, stand or sleep. Had to use crutches and a cane for two weeks. Found Dr's to be sympathetic but not capable of helping me with pain or resolution, except for a neurosurgeon who explained it in perfect detail. I had aggravated my sciatica nerve and it swelled up. While it was swelled up it was impinged on slight disk protrusion at L5. Pain meds did not work. I took Celebrex and rested as much as I could. 6-8 hours of literally doing nothing but sitting in my office chair with my leg propped up.

After a few weeks the pain subsided. Am now in Physical Therapy and practically pain free. So good news is your problem will eventually subside. Better news is with Physical Therapy and reading Dean's book I can at least exercise now with a focus on preventing further occurrence.

Randolph is right, you may want to see a Dr. who will ask for all kinds of images to rule out spinal tumors. I had XRays, MRI and a Mylegram CAT Scan before the neurosurgeon was convinced of the root cause.

Your situation is not unusual. Just be patient and don't push yourself too hard for next month.

Good luck.. B
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Postby Clairembart » Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:05 pm

Thanks Randolf and B

It is great to read about other people's experience. Randolf, I'm sorry to hear about your sister's problem - which seems rather serious. Yes it is better to check with a regular MD. Mine send me to the osteopath though!

Anyway, I went back to see the sports therapist - a brilliant and dedicated young lady - and she was able to pinpoint the source of the pain. Nothing special I guess - it starts at the joint between the 5fth lumbar vertebra and the sacrum. On the left side. She worked on mobilizing that vertebra and within 10 minutes the pain lost maybe 50% of its intensity. I could have married her on the spot. But, as a happily married grandfather, I restrained myself and instead committed to another appointment with her. I believe that will be the extent of our relationship.

Since then I have had 2 days of that same level of a lesser pain. It already feels much better. I am not out of the wood yet, but I certainly see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Now what I want is to do whatever it takes to make my back stronger and less vulnerable. I do not want the pain to crawl back.

I'll be checking here for ideas and support. And hopefully in a short while to provide support myself too.

Thanks

Clairembart.
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