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Pain from sciatica

(25 Posts)
Freeandeasy Tue 28-Jul-20 12:03:35

Has anyone on here suffered/is suffering from sciatica? I’ve had pains down my legs for several years. Some days the pain is manageable but at other times (like today) is quite debilitating. An MRI scan nearly three years ago only showed “wear and tear of the facet joints” - no trapped nerve or disc issue. I have been prescribed physio appointments on the NHS - group sessions every fortnight that we’re completely useless and paid for private sessions at two different practices. The last time (just before lockdown) I tried acupuncture and reiki. I have my own tens machine and a vibration plate which some people have found relief with.

Nothing seems to be working though. I would be interested to hear from others on GN about their experience of sciatica. Has anyone suffered from it? Have you tried anything that relieved the pain? Have you had it and is suddenly disappeared?

My OH suffered for years with a bad back. Sometimes he could hardly walk but all of a sudden one morning he woke up and the pain had gone. Has this happened to anyone else? I suppose I’m just clutching at straws to hope my pain will just disappear but has that happened to you?

timetogo2016 Tue 28-Jul-20 12:09:34

You are not alone Freeandeasy,i have had it for Four years and it`s a bluddy nightmare.
I went for physio and it was a waste of time,it`s even worse when i`m washing my hair over the bath.
It`s got to the point that i am having to come down stairs on my backside and reverse up the same way.
I can`t take painkillers as i am allergic to them so just have to deal with it.
Hope you improve soon.

Freeandeasy Tue 28-Jul-20 12:42:37

Thanks timetogo2016. I’ sorry to hear that you’re a fellow sufferer. It’s debilitating, isn’t it, as the pain is constant and never goes away. It’s not like breaking a bone or something when you know that in time things will get better. I suppose, like you, I’ll just have to deal with it. There are a lot worse things, I’m sure, but the constant pain (especially in my right leg) does get me down sometimes.

quizqueen Tue 28-Jul-20 12:51:11

I have started taking turmeric supplements, which people rave about on the internet because anti-inflamatories and painkillers have no real effect.

The best thing I find is going to a swimming pool. You don't have to swim, just swish your legs around in the water and I find it gives so much relief, if only temporary. I have a monthly membership to my local leisure centre and my pain has got so much worse over lockdown so can't wait for them to reopen mid August.

MerylStreep Tue 28-Jul-20 12:52:56

I've had it on and off for most of my adult life.
The best advice I had from a physio was the stretching exercises. Basically that nerve is trapped and you have to try and free it.
One thing that works for me is: when in the shower I bend over and position the shower head directly on that spot. I gradually turn the heat up to as high as I can bear it.
If you don't know what the stretching exercises are, please ask me.

Daddima Tue 28-Jul-20 12:59:44

I’ve read that lying down at night in the foetal position with a cushion between your knees can help. I got some relief from back pain with a freezing spray from Boots, after I read that applying heat isn’t always the best idea ( which kind of makes sense if pain is from inflamation). I agree with others about how debilitating back pain can be.

Luckygirl Tue 28-Jul-20 13:05:11

I had traction at the hospital - did the trick for me.

I also use a TENS machine. Start it off at a gentle setting then increase it until it hurts slightly - the pain from the machine acts as a distraction from the main pain and switches it off.

downtoearth Tue 28-Jul-20 13:05:43

Mine has flared up in last two weeks,hobbling like an old woman,paracetamol not working,I cant take any other due to other medication,it is unusual for me to resort to pain relief.
Mine is right sided.

merlotgran Tue 28-Jul-20 13:09:58

Try acupuncture. It works for me. I also do gentle yoga stretches. Lying in the foetal position helps but not getting back up again!!!!!

Alternating hot and cold packs helps as well. The trick with an ice bag (gel) is to sit on it.

My 'flare ups' disappear as quickly as they come on and usually last for anything from four days to three weeks. Very painful and debilitating though. You have my sympathy.

MerylStreep Tue 28-Jul-20 13:10:23

The foetal position is the key to the exercise. You are stretching out the muscles surrounding that nerve.
You lay flat, bring both knees up and while doing that you inhale as much as you possibly can while bringing those knees as close to your chest as you can.

The other one is: laying flat, arms outstretched, knees together and let drop to one side. Hold as long as you want. Repeat for opposite side.

tanith Tue 28-Jul-20 13:13:08

The best cure I found was stretches recommended by my Chiropractor. You need to move the Sciatic nerve inside its protective sheath as it can get ‘stuck’ and that could be what’s causing the pain if nothing showed on xrays. I’ll see if I can find a link.

Nannytopsy Tue 28-Jul-20 13:17:48

I found a chiropractor and alternating hot and cold compresses worked for me. I have had it on and off for 35 years ( since my son was conceived) but now I only get it if I sit on small chairs - teaching year 1 and 2!

Pudding123 Tue 28-Jul-20 13:18:17

I had a bout of sciatica about 15 years ago I think because of sitting in a chair that wasn't measured for me and sitting for hours on end in my job.I ended up in hospital for 5 days on morphine as soon as I felt better again (about 3 months)I walked almost every day for at least one hour,this has worked earlier this year I did lots of bending in the garden and started to feel it again ,so used a heat pad for a couple of days took paracetamol and made sure I walked a bit more and was back to normal again.
I would recommend this and hope it works as I know how painful and depressing this is.

biba70 Tue 28-Jul-20 13:24:14

are you able to reach your feet? If so, massage the band going around the base of the heel on the sole of the foot- a semi-circle. Massage and 'walk' up and down that line with your thumb and hand, then massage again- with deep breathing, relaxing your shoulders as you do. Or if not, do you have a friend, OH or friendly adult to do that for you several times a day.

travelsafar Tue 28-Jul-20 13:28:03

I eneded up having a spinal nerve block injection for my sciatia. I really feel for you the pain is indescribable if you have never sufered with it. I now am on Gabapentin which helps with nerve pain. Also the stretching exercises do help.
I think once you have it you always have to be wary of anything you do. Walking is fine if you can do it!!! I now have to use a stick when venturing out for longer walks. I potter around at home and in the garden as i can sit or lean on something when necessary. I use to run 3miles 3 times a week a week before all this happened 3 years ago. Now i feel like an old woman hobbling along and i have developed a stoop as leaning forward helps relieve the pain. I really hope you find some way of getting your back sorted.

annodomini Tue 28-Jul-20 13:28:19

Bowen Therapy worked for me it's a bit like acupressure. The therapist puts gentle pressure throughout the body but concentrating on areas most affected by pain. For some people it doesn't work and the therapist will be clear about this when you have your first consultation. For me, as I said, it did work and it's worth looking for a therapist in your area to see it it could give you some relief.

LadyGracie Tue 28-Jul-20 14:00:02

I tried everything for my sciatica, physio, nerve root block injections but when I got to the point of not being able to stand long enough for a quick shower or walk a few yards, I had to resort to surgery.

I had 3 operations over 14 months and must say I’m so glad I did, I lived with sciatica for many years, I wish I’d had the operation that finally fixed me sooner.

Esspee Tue 28-Jul-20 14:19:44

My sciatica was helped greatly by a simple exercise.
Lie flat on your back, bring the knee on the offending side up towards your chin pulling it towards your chest with both hands and hold while relaxing. Now, using the hand opposite the problem leg (which should be kept up towards your chin) pull the knee across your body as far down as you can while keeping your shoulders flat on the floor, hold at the lowest point and keep there for as long as you can.
I can feel the nerve being released, blissfull!

Freeandeasy Tue 28-Jul-20 15:06:19

Thank you all for taking the time to reply - some fantastic suggestions which I will certainly try, particularly the stretching exercises. I was given different sets of exercises to do by both the physiotherapists I saw, so it was all a bit confusing. I guess I was hoping that the nerve would suddenly “untrap” itself (if that’s a word!). I will try the foot massage (I suppose that’s a form of reflexology?) And will check out some of the other suggestions on here. I only had two acupuncture sessions before we went into lockdown so it was too early to tell if it was working so I’ll probably give that another try.

I suppose the key is to keep moving if you can. I am able to walk but not far. I joined a gym just before lockdown and did find that walking in the pool (I’m not a strong swimmer) helped as well. The gym has a hydro pool as well so I’ll give that another try. I suppose you have to be consistent whatever you do i.e. do the stretching exercises/walking regularly etc.

Thank you all again.

BlueSky Tue 28-Jul-20 21:20:14

Freeandeasy my poor DH had a very painful and debilitating flare up during lockdown, he could only contact the GP by phone who prescribed strong painkillers. The flare up lasted about 2 months, it's now manageable but a specialist recommended an op to stop it recurring.

Callistemon Tue 28-Jul-20 22:24:27


are you able to reach your feet? If so, massage the band going around the base of the heel on the sole of the foot- a semi-circle. Massage and 'walk' up and down that line with your thumb and hand, then massage again- with deep breathing, relaxing your shoulders as you do. Or if not, do you have a friend, OH or friendly adult to do that for you several times a day.

I get sciatica from time to time and was interested to read your post biba because at the moment I have what I think is plantar fasciitis too. That is exactly where it is painful and I can't walk, garden or exercise at the moment.

Nicholas12312 Wed 05-Aug-20 08:42:43

My pain was treated by going to physiotherapist and following all the preventive measures to treat that pain.

Party4 Thu 20-Aug-20 09:11:14

Suffered with terrible sciatica about 4 yrs ago.I had electric shock pain down right leg and couldnt make it to the toilet as difficulty in walking relying on walking stick.An emergency MRI diagnosed slipped discs prescribed pain killers,physio,acupuncture,hot/cold packs took months
off work so was referred to Occupational Health.The nurse had had back problems herself and just looking at me could see the distress I was in.She advised me to find the sciatic nerve in my bottom cheek and really hard, massage it with a knuckle and although painful the body releases a natural painkiller and would give enough relief to allow you a little sleep also wrap ice packs in tea towel pressing against nerve.Sleep with knees bent with firm pillow between knees.Start lockdown overdid the gardening and started with mild symptoms again, due to restrictions found a site on line showing exercises which I followed twice daily,used ice packs and some ibuprofen gel rubbed into buttock area.Thankfully worked and spent the following month being very cautious.

Grandmafrench Thu 20-Aug-20 09:31:52

Just been reminded by Party4’s post that I should have commented on one earlier on this thread.

What Esspee has said is a life-saver. Sciatica can just drag on and on and possibly lots that we do might sometimes alleviate the pain but more often than not, just exacerbate it.

The exercise she recommends is brilliant. My Osteopath recommended something very similar which I now use if I feel the slightest twinge. I have even done it whilst travelling, as a passenger, on long car journeys in the past. Lying flat on a bed is best, but it can be done whilst seated if you can get your legs enough room to be high enough.

Lie flat and pull up both knees keeping both feet flat and together. Lift one leg and rest the outer edge of the foot just above the knee on the other leg. That other leg should then be pulled by gripping it behind the knee or around the thigh or getting another person to pull it towards your chest. You will feel the ‘burn’ all down the leg which is resting across it. That is the sciatic nerve which you can feel. It probably feels either painful or uncomfortable. But, after a few minutes - and you can do this for as long as you like- the discomfort eases often to the point that there is no discomfort at all. It doesn’t matter which leg you start with, you should do them both so that the nerve is stretched and kept comfortable in both legs. Do this with, say, 3 repeats for each leg, 3 times a day. It will make a tremendous difference and is something positive that Sciatica sufferers can do to help themselves. An ice pack under the buttock afterwards is also very soothing and relaxing. Don’t ever use heat my Osteopath always says, ‘why would you use heat on inflammation?’

GrandmaMoira Thu 20-Aug-20 09:44:14

If you look up piriformis syndrome it will show you the exercises that should help with sciatica. My physio said the muscles in that area were very tight so stretching them was the best thing to help. I found acupuncture also helped.

I had over a year off work with this and it was a long time before I could walk far. I had it mildly off and on for years. It's been all right since retirement as I am no longer sitting all day in an uncomfortable office chair.