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Sciatica- please help - so scared I won’t recover

(40 Posts)
VWlady Sun 23-Aug-20 10:39:19

Can anyone give advice about treatments for sciatica pain from ‘slipped disc’? I’ve had pain and numbness down my leg and foot for 4 weeks now first diagnosed as trapped nerve but now as herniated disc. I have physio exercises to do but each time it seems to start getting better it flares up again. I’m a widow and live alone so it’s very difficult to cope with. I’m in my 60s and normally very active but this is making me feel so old and isolated and very trapped in my house.

merlotgran Sun 23-Aug-20 10:47:01

Poor you. It's so very painful.

My first bout of sciatica was when I was 58 as a result of shingles down the sciatic nerve. I also went for physio and remember the therapist telling me to be patient because 'nature heals'

Acupuncture helped, as did gentle yoga stretches. I also alternated hot and cold packs while watching TV. I was advised to sit on the cold one but place the hot one higher up.

I have had some recurring bouts but nothing as painful as the first one.

Hope you soon start to feel better. It's so debilitating.

blondenana Sun 23-Aug-20 10:49:27

VWlady I have had really bad sciatica in the past where i was in tears it was so painful, The thing that really seemed to work was accupuncture, whether it would work for a herniated disc i don't know, but it stopped the pain immediately
I am having similiar problems at the moment, but no pain just weakness in my legs that started with sciatica
I hope you can get some help and relief
Are you under the hospital for physio, or privately,?
I think an osteopath should be able to help
I find execise are very slow in making a difference

rafichagran Sun 23-Aug-20 10:57:02

I too have had very bad sciattica. I really feel for you. I found that keeping moving helped.
I could not take the medication the Doctor gave me, so just took over the counter pain killers.
It went eventually but it is painful at the time.
Some good advice given from posters here.

Grandmafrench Sun 23-Aug-20 11:06:19

Poor you. You will need to perhaps exercise more patience as it can take a few months for a flare-up such as this to completely resolve.

As Merlot says here, patience is important. It will heal, undoubtedly. You say that it starts to get better and then relapses again. I wonder if that is because you are trying too hard to resume your normal routine. You say you live alone, so probably don't have anyone around when you need it to deal with any heavier lifting or twisting etc., which you may be trying to do yourself. You must stop this ! Even making the bed and tucking in bedclothes would be enough to aggravate the injury, along with bending, sitting too long, driving, walking on uneven ground. Injured backs are a really difficult thing to manage, but if you don't look after yourself, do your exercises and maybe visit an Osteopath for some gentle manipulation and advice, you will not helping yourself as you should.

Incidentally, you need a well recommended Osteopath with healing hands, not someone who shows off by 'clicking' and 'cracking' your joints. Avoid those at all costs.

If your Doctor has prescribed anti-inflammatories, maybe only take them to be sure of a good night's sleep. My Osteopath has always said that taking them routinely, which might go some way to relieving pain, is a sure way to becoming addicted and needing a stronger dose - as well as encouraging us to carry on as normal because the pain isn't so bad! So, painkillers only when you are definitely going to rest - not to get you through doing your usual chores!

You're not old and you will be active again if you're kind to yourself now. Stay positive and good luck!

QuaintIrene Sun 23-Aug-20 11:11:25

I feel for you.
Sciatica is so painful.
Acupuncture helped me. The irony was that when I really needed it, I couldn’t walk, or get in the taxi for the treatment.
But it did work, at first it was just some relief for about an hour. My leg went from being frozen to warm. Those hours every week were a godsend.
I used to find lying down with the bad leg bent up helped. Sort of relieved the pressure.
Also, putting water in a hot water bottle and freezing it. Wrapped in a towel and put under my hip helped.
The first bout was the worst. I get bad flare ups, but they don’t last as long now.
I hope you feel better soon. It’s tough dealing with things on your own ?

GrandmaMoira Sun 23-Aug-20 11:15:51

I have suffered from sciatica and feel for you as it is so painful. At its worst, lying down was the only vaguely comfortable place to be. Simple anti inflammatories such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are a good idea for a couple of weeks. You won't get addicted and they could take the edge off the pain.
I found physio and acupuncture both helped a lot. If you do your physio gentle stretches regularly they should eventually help. It took me weeks to improve a bit and months to get better. I had continued flare ups whilst working due to spending all day in uncomfortable chairs but am fine now I'm retired. Good luck.

NfkDumpling Sun 23-Aug-20 11:27:25

I had a herniated disc thirty years ago which got worse instead of better. Much worse. Physio didn't help much because of the direction the disc had bulged in but I know it does help some. My offending disc is at the base of my spine and it does make a difference where it is. I have a friend who has kept her herniated disc under control for years with Pilates classes. Definitely avoid Chiropractors!

If yours doesn't improve pester your doctor for a referral to a specialist consultant. Mine got worse fast and I ended up having a discectomy which is when the herniated bit is shaved off. It was a fairly new operation then, but not nowadays. I went into hospital hardly able to walk and in permanent pain. When my consultant came to visit an hour or so after I came around from the operation he told me to get out of bed. I did. "Touch your toes". And I did! It was incredible! No pain and only a two inch scar in my back to show for it. I was swimming as soon as the wound healed and within six months I was able to go back to riding, cycling and dinghy sailing. (I was much younger!). So, if it gets really bad, there is a solution. Its not necessarily a life limiting condition.

The only things I was told and what would be relevant now is never play tennis or badminton or golf or anything which involves twisting. Always carry two small bags, never one full one in one hand. Two half full buckets not one full one. Be balanced. Two walking poles, not one stick. Linen basket full of washing - in front of you, never on one hip. It becomes second nature to hold yourself straight quite quickly!

I hope you find a solution soon!

Grandmafrench Sun 23-Aug-20 11:44:55

Just to be clear, VWLady my relating my own Osteopath's advice (he is a Doctor) only referred to prescribed NSAID's - and strong enough to limit the pain- and not to over the counter medication which would be far less likely to be addictive. If you have any issues with raised blood pressure you should avoid Ibuprofen. Paracetamol, of course, whilst an analgesic, is not anti-inflammatory.

timetogo2016 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:12:48

I have had it for 4 years,tried physio to no avail and i can`t feel the bottom of my feet.
I tried red tiger balm but nothings helping.
I hope yours goes soon.

Oopsadaisy4 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:19:27

My herniated disc went from painful to an excruciating nightmare, I had physio, but 6 months later I ended up with an emergency op.

I won’t give any more details as I’m sure you will be fine but Please be very careful and never ever lift anything with your arms out stretched in front of you and don’t lift and twist.

If you want to PM me then please do.

Charleygirl5 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:23:57

If you go down the surgical route at any time and this applies to other parts of your body. Before you see your GP do your homework re a consultant. It should be somebody who does little else but backs and make sure he has a good reputation.

Good luck.

Oopsadaisy4 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:30:18

charleygirl I had a Neuro Surgeon, my GP said not to go to a saw bones merchant ! ( his exact words)

jaylucy Sun 23-Aug-20 12:31:29

I have a trapped nerve in my hip , from when my son was born,that flared up when I worked in retail because I was having to stand up (usually in one place) for long periods of time. It was so bad that I was on one crutch and I had to plan where I was going - it took me twice as long to walk from A to B - not a good idea when you are having to catch a bus at 7am to get to work!
I too ibuprofen in the mornings after breakfast but wouldn't advise that as 18 months down the line, I was rushed to hospital with a bleeding stomach ulcer that they thought was caused by the ibuprofen!
I tried seeing a chiropractor that helped a bit but the one thing that I found helped the most was accupuncture.
I am still restricted to the time I stand - too long and it feels like iced water is running down the side of my leg or my leg and eventually foot goes numb and I have to be very careful or I trip over things!

Charleygirl5 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:35:05

I agree, having worked with a few, some are saw bone merchants but a neurosurgeon is usually one of the best for this type of surgery.

WOODMOUSE49 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:40:36

You have my sympathies. I too felt trapped and alone.

I suffered with the same for nearly a year. Left side.

Pain killers together with anti inflammatory tablets were horrendous giving me severe heartburn. Physio had no impact at all. I ended up walking with a stick. I couldn't do heel rises (push up onto my toes) so walking was difficult. My difficulty with walking had also put extreme pressure on my right hip aggravating the arthritis I had.

I was recommended a chiropractor.

Saw him twice a week to start with. Within 2 weeks I didn't need the stick and within a month I was starting to do full heel rises. He also gave me acupuncture and suggested hot/cold treatment for my right hip. In bed: Hot pad on top / cold underneath or visa versa.

I slowly dropped off the sessions over the following year. The numbness is still with me 10 years later and I still do the exercises he gave me when the aches start. I only get these when I've been gardening too much. He told me off for doing too much of the same gardening for too long. Guidance was one activity for 1/2 hour at the most.

If someone can recommend a chiropractor, try one.

Granny23 Sun 23-Aug-20 12:46:26

I had my first flare up of Sciatica while recovering from a broken arm. I was attending the hospital for physio for the arm and mention my other problem. The physio gave me an instant relief strategy, which involves/involved bending my leg up at the knee and across the front of my middle, holding and then repeating. Works every time for me.

Grandmafrench Sun 23-Aug-20 12:57:43

This sort of thing, Granny23 ? I swear by these exercises first recommended by my Osteopath about 15 years ago.

loopyloo Sun 23-Aug-20 13:16:23

I was greatly helped by an osteopath who used acupuncture. It usually takes about 6 weeks to heal.
Found it impossible to sleep at night and eventually had a short course of diazepam which helped a lot.
Do push for an MRI. I found rest and gentle movement with codeine occasionally at night and eventually it improved.
But do try acupuncture.

Granny23 Sun 23-Aug-20 13:33:41

Grandmafrench Yes that is more or less the same except that I do it standing up while holding on to the sink.

VWlady Mon 24-Aug-20 10:16:23

Thank you to everyone for your caring and sympathetic words, info and advice. I can’t take anti inflammatories because I have asthma, but reluctantly for the last few days I’m taking over the counter cocodamols that means I finally have pain relief. I’m having a face to face appointment with my physio shortly - Covid precautions have not helped as it’s all been phone/online consultations so far. Fingers crossed for some progress but I’ve taken on board all your comments- it really helps just to know others have been through the same thing. Thank you all again.

Corydal1s Mon 24-Aug-20 10:29:01

May I suggest people try tapping? I know it looks and sounds strange but it does help many people and is non invasive. Medication can be very effective as can acupuncture but this stimulates the same points without the needle and can be learnt at a simple level at home .
See for some more information
I hope this helps people

Candelle Mon 24-Aug-20 10:30:24

Another sufferer here.

My sciatic pain was so bad that I would have jumped off a cliff had I not been operated on. I only lasted three weeks with the pain before surgery and I will never forget the horror of the pain, so I do understand how you feel.

In my case, surgery was the only option but if the disc has herniated higher up it is possible to wait it out and the disc may.. recover, so you would not need surgery. You obviously need good advice from a neuro-surgeon after having MRI/CT/x-rays etc. Only then will you know how damaged your spine is.

Until you can see anyone (please don't leave it) regular painkillers may help and gentle stretching exercises, if you can tolerate them could also be beneficial. There are many online but with all of them, very very gently does it - you are trying not to irritate the nerves.

I wish I could give you brighter news: to sum up, see a GP and ask for a referral to either NHS/private neuro surgeon as soon as you can; take regular painkillers (don't take more than the recommended dose); do very very gentle stretching exercises.

It goes without saying that you should not carry anything remotely heavy - even a kettle or pain of water can be too much.

I hope you are better very soon - you have my sympathy.

NfkDumpling Mon 24-Aug-20 16:39:34

I agree with loopyloo, until you (or your doctor) knows exactly whats causing the sciatica it can't be treated properly. You really need an MRI scan or whatever treatment you're trying could be making it worse. In my case, physio was pushing the disc the wrong way. If its not improving see your GP and ask for a referral.

timetogo, have you seen your GP lately?

NfkDumpling Mon 24-Aug-20 16:41:30

Ditto Candelle!