Gransnet forums

Health

Sciatica relief

(42 Posts)
jenn Tue 23-Sep-14 12:21:45

Help....
Sciatica is driving me mad and the pain is unbelievable, the simplest things have turned into endurance tests. The mornings are worse, getting up is so painful and getting dressed is a pantomime. I walk the dogs and swim and do my horse but the pain has taken all the pleasure away.
The doctor has recommended pain killers but they are not doing anything apart from making me constipated!
Physiotherapy,acupuncture,chiropractice,oesteopath.....which one do I go for?

Charleygirl Tue 23-Sep-14 12:31:13

jenn is the sciatica acute or chronic?

What painkillers did your GP give you? Maybe a mixture of Panadol and non steroidals may help.

I know that it kills you but you have to keep active. I would choose the physio route first.

Anne58 Tue 23-Sep-14 12:46:41

Have you thought about a Tens machine?

Elegran Tue 23-Sep-14 13:05:44

I would see a good physiotherapist first. Acupuncture deals with the pain, not the reason for it. Chiropractors and osteopaths may help, but opinion is divided on whether all of them are effective at what they do. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), www.csp.org.uk/ , is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 51,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.

The one I saw looked at Xrays, examined me very carefully and had me doing all kinds of movements to see just how much I could do before hitting pain, looking at me from in front, behind and from the side. Then she sat me down and told me exactly what was causing the pain and what we could do to ease it off.

She gave me a list of exercises to do, most of which were stretching the joints of my spine so as to take the pressure off the sciatic nerve, which was being pinched by two rather weary vertebrae. They were not strenuous, just gentle stretching repeated litle and often. The more I did the exercises, the better my back felt (and the electric wire from buttock to ankle stopped twanging at the least movement.)

All the GP did was give me even stronger painkillers, not tackling the root of the problem at all. Physios deal with joints, muscles and nerves all the time.

Get the right exercises for your case, then take a dose of painkillers half-an-hour before doing the exercises. As your flexibility improves, cut down on the painkillers. It is better to take quite strong ones for a limited time so that you can bear to do the exercises, rather than just take them to dull the pain.

NfkDumpling Tue 23-Sep-14 13:33:29

As Elegran says you need to find out the reason for the sciatica. If not it could make it worse. I saw a chiropractor first - big mistake.

Mine turned out to be a bulging disc. Physio didn't help me as it was too bad and I had to have an operation to shave the offending bit of disc. That was twenty five years ago and I've had no real problem since (touching wood now!) and was able to go back to riding - although supposedly no jumping.

You'll need to push your GP for a referral - and prescription painkillers.

Elegran Tue 23-Sep-14 13:39:42

Mine was a bulging disc too, but it was not as far gone as yours. Anti-inflammatory painkillers allowed the inflammation to subside, and the exercises made the joints more flexible and strengthened the muscles supporting the spine so that it was held straighter and not pinching the nerve as it came out between the vertebrae.

If you can fix it now, an operation may not be necessary later. Just masking it with painkillers does not sort out the reason for the nerve hurting.

TriciaF Tue 23-Sep-14 13:51:19

My husband had sciatica last winter and as you say, the pain is excruciating.
He had various tests, xrays etc and they found nothing. He tried to be more active and it wore off eventually.
A friend told us she had it for ages and in the end her doctor prescribed a psychiatric drug, can't remember the name. Blocked the pain centre in the brain, I think.

jenn Tue 23-Sep-14 15:05:51

Thanks ladies,the g.p. has referred me for physio but I think it will be a long wait which is why I was asking what to do.I am able to pay but don't want to make it worse by going to the wrong person. Tomorrow I am seeing a sport physio but wonder after reading your replies if an x ray is needed to find the cause.

grannyactivist Tue 23-Sep-14 15:15:58

jenn I would echo the suggestion given by phoenix. I have a TENS machine (about £60 from Boot) and it's brilliant. Non-invasive and doesn't interfere with other treatments, but does provide excellent pain relief.

jenn Tue 23-Sep-14 15:22:25

Thank you ladies.
I have arranged to see a sport therapist but am now wondering if I should have an x ray to find the cause. Today I have walked the dogs and swam 20 lengths and am just about to go and ride out, just niggles of pain but this morning it took ages to just put my pants on.
It does seem that any sort of resting starts it off I only need to sit for 5minutes and it is agony getting up, yet riding isn't so bad!!!
This getting older is a pain in the bum literally.

Culag Tue 23-Sep-14 15:23:27

I have had chronic sciatica for about 4yrs. I was eventually given a scan which indicated that it wasn't a protrubing disc. No followup was offered so I turned to Dr Google. I discovered Piriformis syndrome in which one of your buttock muscles is 'tight' and presses on the sciatic nerve. YouTube has some excercises for this which helped me somewhat. I rarely get pain from my buttock to my foot now, but the whole area over the right side of the top of my foot is still permanently numb and often painful. I still do the excercise if it gets bad. I do wish there was a permanent solution as my left hip is now going so I will have to cope with problems on both sides!

Elegran Tue 23-Sep-14 16:05:18

I have just remembered that I was prescribed small doses of amitryptilene as a nerve painkiller.

goldengirl Tue 23-Sep-14 17:15:45

I had problems with the Piriformis muscle and it was agony. My physio came me easy exercises ie I did not have to be a contortionist or have equipment to do them and those and careful Pilates with a properly trained teacher sorted me out.

I go to see a physio every 6 weeks and do applied Pilates every week because I'm scared of seizing up. I try and swim at least twice a week too. It's not cheap but it means I can get about and hopefully will continue to do so for longer

jenn Tue 23-Sep-14 17:35:32

It rained so cancelled riding and read my book........now in agony. It looks as though I must keep on the move all the time!!!!

bookdreamer Tue 23-Sep-14 18:00:20

I work for a spinal surgeon. Physio definitely is the right way forward. An Xray is no good as it doesn't show up the nerve or nerves that are being trapped which is the cause of sciatic pain. Only an MRI can do that.

Icyalittle Tue 23-Sep-14 18:16:12

My experience is that a scan is vital, and physio will of course work but it depends on the cause of the pain. My DS had spinal surgery 2 months ago after excruciating sciatic pain, and going to physio as recommended. A piece of a disc had broken off, and was pressing on the nerve. No amount of physio or drugs were going to solve it. He is only slowly getting the feeling back in his leg, because it took so long to be properly diagnosed. I don't want to be accused of advertising, but there is a very cost-effective healthcare (not insurance) company that only costs about £2 a week. Is it okay to say that, GNHQ?

Iam64 Tue 23-Sep-14 18:41:29

Anti inflammatories, better than pain killers in my experience. Although if it's disturbing your sleep, a pain killer at bed time may help.

Find a good physiotherapist, use the link Elegran provided. My rheumatology department lent me a Tens machine. Great plan, you paid a £10 deposit, used it for a couple of weeks, if it helped, you paid an extra amount and kept it. As others have said, Boots sell them, and they aren't ridiculously expensive.

The other thing, is keep moving jenn. Your lifestyle sounds great as you'll have to, keep moving, horses don't feed, groom or sort themselves. Good luck, incidentally, my physio says the earlier you start treatment, the better. I trust his advice, he's helped me a number of times with neck, back, hip and more recently, foot problems. He said 6 sessions would sort it, or he'd write to my GP with recommendations about future treatment. He charges £30 for a session, mine usually lasted an hour, or more.

Iam64 Tue 23-Sep-14 18:46:40

Sorry, meant to add that the best exercise I've found to help with this kind of problem, is yoga. The exercises the physic's give are often yoga stretches. I started classes again a few months ago, and find it does help keep things moving.

Elegran Tue 23-Sep-14 19:30:31

Until you can get an appointment with a physio, the absolutely simplest exercise is one of the post-natal ones - lie on your back with legs straight and make one of them as short as possible, the other as long as possible, then change them over. Don't force it, just stretch one and shrink the other. This is gently stretching each side of the spinal column. If you do this before getting out of bed the joints get a chance to loosen up a bit before being asked to take your whole weight.

Sudden movements are not good, always move slowly and gently. Better long and slow than snatch and grab.

Oldgater Tue 28-Aug-18 08:23:18

I agree with Elegran, that's what I did. Stretching is important, especially for us older smile. My granddaughter has ordered for me capsules and cream from Acuraflex. It helped me a lot with sciatica and joints pain.

OldMeg Tue 28-Aug-18 08:39:31

Pay to go privately to a recommended physio if you can afford it. Before now I’ve had torn muscles, broken bones, pulled ligaments etc.. and paid rather than wait and never regretted the customer.

The one time I was had a quick referral to an NHS physio I was disappointed.

OldMeg Tue 28-Aug-18 08:40:47

PS also found a TENS machine helpful. Bought my own, quite cheaply, from Boots.

Gma29 Tue 28-Aug-18 08:56:42

I would also make sure that when you do sit down, the sofa or chair is supporting your back in the correct alignment. A slouchy position often makes many back issues worse.

I hope you find some effective treatment, back pain is a curse.

GrandmaMoira Tue 28-Aug-18 10:04:20

I agree that physio is best. If you can afford it, pay to go for at least an initial consultation. Piriformis syndrome is the most common reason for sciatica. I have had sciatica several times and at its worst I could not walk and was only vaguely comfortable lying down dosed with strong painkillers. Get treatment before it gets that bad. Google gentle stretches for piriformis which should help until you see a physio.

travelsafar Wed 29-Aug-18 08:38:02

I found that stretches helped mostly.I was referred to our local lesiure centre by GP and given some sets of stretch exercises to complete and within a week of religiously doing them every day i was off the painkillers from the GP and just taking a couple of over the counter ones if necessary.
My problem with pain disappeared thank goodness but i have been left with weakness in the affected leg and numbness in the foot.I also now suffer with pain above the hip on the otherside due to the way i now walk. I was referred for an MRI scan after 7months of difficulties and am now waiting to see a spinal surgeon at the end of this month as i have a disc which is pressing on the nerve causing the numbness and weakness. I just thank God that the pain has gone though as it was unbearable at times so you have my sympathy. I will see what he says about what can be done but i really dont think i would go for an op as i would be scared incase it made things worse.I can do most things now including going back to work, walking to town, playing bowls and working in the garden.If i do too much i pay for it so i know my limitations. I really hope you find a solution for your sciatica.