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  1. #1
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    Sciatica is a Cruel Mistress. Does it ever go away??

    Hi Everyone,

    Sciatica is a cruel, hard, mistress. Its been 4.5 months since it set in, and although its getting better overall, Iím still having problems.

    Can I ask those of you that have gone through it to share what it felt like as things were healing?

    Over a period of weeks or months, it seems to be constantly changing. In the beginning it was all numbness and tingling, and horrid shock-like pain after sitting and then standing. Then these symptoms settled and it changed to pain when I sit down, and lower back pain that moves all over the place.

    The last 6-8 weeks, its been a couple good weeks with only a little light lower back pain, then it will get bad again for a few days or a couple weeks, and then the cycle continues.

    Now its burning and aches in my calf, and the usual ďfragileĒ feeling in the back.

    It constantly changes! Iíve been off the bike for all serious riding for 4 months and I am going mental. Walking is my exercise and it helps. Doctors and PT all conclude ďunlikely to be a herniationĒ.

    What was it like FOR YOU as you recovered? I guess Iím looking for some shared experiences to benchmark myself with. Without ever having a problem before, and perhaps expecting too rapid a recovery, Iím finding this quite frustrating.

    Thanks,

    CK

  2. #2
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    Have you had an MRI done on your lower back? If not, how could a doctor or a PT make the assessment that it's not a herniation or bulging of a disc? Something has to be pressing on the sciatic nerve in order to cause the problems. Can you go back 4.5 months and clearly indicate if there was an A-HA moment that caused the onset of the symptoms?
    It sounds to me as though either the sciatic nerve was damaged by some event. Nerves do take a while to heal, how long I'm not 100% sure. My experience has been with a ruptured disc that originally caused massive lower back pain and some sciatic issues. The first surgery to the disc alleviated all problems until it ruptured again. This time, my right leg went completely numb and I started getting "drop foot" issues. After the second surgery, I haven't had any more issues with sciatic problems. However, this was due to a traumatic injury.
    I'm not an MD, but my recommendation would be to get an MRI, if you haven't done so already, and then consult with a neurosurgeon or someone of the like that can interpret why the nerve is having issues.

  3. #3
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    FWIW, walking is not the normal course of action for rehabbing Sciatica . I agree that a Neuro Surgeon or Neuro Therapist is probably a good next step .

  4. #4
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    Well, walking helps! I do a fair bit of stretching as well.

    I'm well past the acute stage. I had a back injury that bothered me for a week or two in Feb. The sciatica started at the beginning of March. I was shovellign snow, then flew to the West coast, and the next day, had the sore back. It wasn't bad enough to keep me from work though.

    MRI's were deemed not necessary since my symptoms have been "mild". I have full range of motion, just a variety of aches and pains that come and go.

    So what does a herniated disc feel like a few months out?

  5. #5
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    I have had sciatica twice the first time about 12 years ago when it looked like i had worms under my skin with the nerves working away on there own,doctor presribed complete rest where i spent 4 weeks laid flat on my back,i cannot remember the healing process.
    The second time was 6 months ago,bent over to talk to my friend in his car and back went again,went to doctors and nowadays they prescribe rest for the first 48 hours and then you have to get yourself mobile,i found i was most comfortable on my bike so just did some gentle riding and within a month it had cured itself.
    I only had trouble with my leg and didnt really suffer with my back but the healing process was quite quick and the the pain just slowly resided until i was left with just a weak ankle which i dragged around or so it seemed for a week or two after the pain had gone.
    Im by no means a Doctor but i was led to understand that sciatica only affected the back of the legs although i could be quite wrong on this.
    Try and keep yourself mobile as much as possible and i wish you the best of luck in a speedy recovery

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nth_dimension
    Well, walking helps! I do a fair bit of stretching as well.

    I'm well past the acute stage. I had a back injury that bothered me for a week or two in Feb. The sciatica started at the beginning of March. I was shovellign snow, then flew to the West coast, and the next day, had the sore back. It wasn't bad enough to keep me from work though.

    MRI's were deemed not necessary since my symptoms have been "mild". I have full range of motion, just a variety of aches and pains that come and go.

    So what does a herniated disc feel like a few months out?
    In my case, my disc was just bulging at first. It felt like something was not right, just a slight bit of pain, but nothing too serious. Of all things, I was bending over to pick up an RC car and POW! it popped and I thought that I was going to throw up. I had to ride in an ambulance to the ER and get some good drugs. It was a long process that I still deal with today...
    You'd know if it was ruptured. However, everyone is built differently, so even a slightly bulging disc can put pressure on the sciatic nerve if the pocket between the nerve and the bone is not very large. A disc doesn't have to fully rupture to put pressure on the nerves.

    Personally, to me, if the problem is still ongoing, and the treatments that your doctors have not worked, then I'd request that a doctor prescribe an MRI to get a better look at what's happening inside. If your doctor is not willing to prescribe one, then find another doctor. If you're having that many problems with it, obviously that tells me there's something wrong that needs to be fixed. Sometimes rest can't fix everything. Take charge of your health and demand that something be done. Ultimately it's your body and if you're okay with being uncomfortable(which you wouldn't have posted up on here if you were), then by all means just keep doing the same old same old. However, if it was me and I was not comfortable, and what you've been doing hasn't worked, then do something different. The old adage is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and always expecting an alternative outcome.

    However, just my $.02. I've been dealing with lower back problems for the last seven years.

  7. #7
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    Not I .... unless that is specifically what ails me.

  8. #8
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    Your meatball doctor acts like he's flipping the bill for the MRI.

    Find a new doctor, there's enough of them out there.

    Hell, a good PT can look at your MRI and tell you what's going on. Just remember, if you can get one done, be sure to keep the films, they are yours.

    Hope you feel better soon

    Mojo

  9. #9
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    those symptoms hardly seem mild.

    I did have severe pain for a few days and only very little scatia, and my MRI showed that I had 1 herniated disc, 1 torn disc, both of which are ruptured. For you not to get an MRI is silly, they are fast and easy.
    The mountains are calling and I must go

  10. #10
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    Cruel, yeah. But there is hope.

    I watched a taped microdiscectomy for sciatica on closed circuit tv in the hospital about 10 years ago.

    Through a one-inch incision, you could see the sciatic nerve (the thing's huge) begin pulsing with blood as soon as the offending disc material was snipped away.

    Under local anaesthetic; the patient walked away that day--immediate relief.

    If that could work for me (my problems are complex), I'd go for it in a heartbeat.

    You'd need the MRI to know. Best wishes.

    Doesn't sound like piriformis stretching would do it for you. It's unusual for it to work.

  11. #11
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    There is hope.......I Had some bad sciatic about 10 months ago at one point I could not walk more then 100 feet without scorching pain in my buttocks and lower back. Sleeping at night was awful.
    Eventually it went away after 6-8 weeks of complete rest.

    It's not pleasant.Something was pinching a nerve in my lower back.

    MRI showed four bulging discs but total rest allowed me to heal. The activity that helped the most was immersion in a pool. After the 8 weeks I started to strengthen my core and do pilates 2x a week. Now I do 20-50 cobra stretches every day and have not looked back or had any real pain to speak of.

    My advice.....Get a MRI then hook up with a good Physical Therapist that can do traction and start a strenghening and stretching regiman.

  12. #12
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    I feel your pain.
    I had sciatica for about two weeks. I was crippled. Could not lay down, stand up or do anything to relieve the pain. Felt like I was being stabbed in the back with a hot knife, pain shooting down my leg. Probably the worst pain I ever felt. I've had back spasms, I thought those were bad, but nothing compared to sciatica.
    Pretty sure the whole ordeal was caused by a couple weeks of sitting on my butt in airplanes and vehicles. Move it or lose it.
    I hope you get better. See a doctor and have an MRI if you can afford it. The human body is a wonderful thing, usually it just takes time to heal. With sciatica, every day seems like forever.

  13. #13
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    Did you read the book I recommended in your other thread?

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    adoble - yes, I read Sarno's book. I agree that the mind has a role to play, but I am not yet sold on the idea of TMS.

    All - I have not gotten an MRI, simply because based on clinical signs and my history, 2 doctors and 3 PT's do not think I popped a disc. I have full range of motion and all that jazz. I never missed so much as an hour of work.

    I think its healing (whatever it was). Its just in the long recovery phase where stuff still hurts to a degree here and there.

    Anyway, I'm mostly curious about how people, in particular serious cyclists, recovered, and what the recovery was like in terms of symptoms, etc. I have non-athletic friends who say that after a disc injury, it was 1-2 months of major pain, followed by 5-7 months of intermittent stuff. That's all fine, but thet never had the need to get back on a mountain bike!

    Thanks again for sharing.

  15. #15
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    I had sciatica once after crashing sideways onto concrete (new to clipless) I had increasingly bad pain. Eventually it was a chiro who fixed me permanently after 2 visits - jammed pelvis.
    I realise this is very simplistic post compared to the others above, maybe shovelling snow had a similar effect.
    Cheers
    The twenty-nine inch wheel.

  16. #16
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    I had sciatica really bad. I have a herniated disc between S1-L1. The thing that got me back on my feet was Lodine (an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen) and exercise.

    I had a bad case, sitting for more than 20 minutes was excruciating and my 50 minute drive into work was pure torture. At work when I got up from my desk I would have a bad limp until things loosened up. The doctor insisted on surgery but let me give physical therapy a try first. Physical therapy wasn't that effective until I started adding core strengthening exercises like leg raises and sit-ups. I also started doing a lot of biking. Thatís when things really started improving. On the biking end I did lots of steep hill climbs and a good bit of that was mountain biking. Cycling I've heard is one of the best things for your back.

    You need to use it to get better. Inactivity will only make things worse.

    A consistent dose of anti-inflammatory is very important. Don't just take them when it hurts you have to take them every day like you would vitamins. I would take them twice a day. Immediately when I woke up in the morning and an hour before my drive home from work. A regular does is really important to get the inflammation pain cycle under control.

    When you have an injury like a herniated disc your body naturally moves away from the pain and you no longer sit/stand properly. This causes misalignment and this in turn puts more pressure on other parts of your body. This starts a vicious downward cycle of misalignment and pain and everything begins to get all out of wack. Your spine, hips, knees all kinds of problems. Thatís why the anti-inflamatories are really important. Everything needs to calm down and get back in place.

    One other note. I was told by an orthopedic specialist that the cause of the pain is a build up of fluid that causes nerve impingement. He said eventually the body will absorb that fluid and the pain will subside. He said very few discectomy surgeries were truly needed. Take that for what it's worth. In my case I suffered for nearly a year.


    All that said if I had it to over again I would have opted for the surgery. I don't stay up on my core exercises so the pain returns now and then (mild) and seem to be developing arthritis in that leg. Get pain in my knee and foot. I also avoid one my favorite things, skiing moguls, quite frankly because it hurts.

  17. #17
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    10 years ago I had a ruptured - fractured disk with a few floating pieces in L5 / S1...used heavy doses of Motrin, ice, heat, decompression therapy, stretching. Next step was laminectomay and doc was talking about fusion....nope I took the conservative approach.

    Read Sarno...self talk (yeah it sounds wacky and mumbo jumbo) drank lots of water, LOTS of fish oil...light exercises. Took about 6 months but was back up and active. If you were to live in Europe a doc would first recommend what I went through as about 90% of all disc problems will take care of themselves in about 6 months.

    If you are pooping our peeing yourself demand a MRI and sometimes a disc repair is necessary....by all means try and avoid fusion, as I have yet to talk with someone who has remained pain free after having one.

    So ten years after foot drop and pain so bad I was in bed for over a week I have the occasional numbness, and slight pain but at 47 feel great 95% of the time.

    If you have true peraformais syndrome I would think that a high anti-inflammatory diet may help. Try lots of fish oil (1 tablespoon a day for at least a month, I take Carlsons), ginger...as much as you can tolerate, curry ( I add it to everything) and water, water, water.

    Good Luck...you will feel better soon!!!

  18. #18
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    Thanks so much for the comments. Other people's experiences are so helpful in this mess.

    4-5 months ago I had nasty pain when getting up after sitting. I would be a like a tazer shot into my thigh or something like that. Only walking a little could loosen it up. My foot was numb (the outside edge mainly) and tingled all the time as well. Pins and needles. I'd get a periodic blast of pain and numbness in the calf area as well.

    Now, after a few months, the only real symptoms are some calf aches that come and go, with the odd sensation in the foot. I still have a loose feeling in my back as well. Its hard to describe, but it just feels fragile. Flexibility is back to 99%. (ie I go to my PT and when he does the leg raise test, both legs go to 90 degress)

    I guess that's progress!

    The hardest part of an injury like this, other than the fact that your normal routine (for me 4-6 days of hard cycling) is upset, is the fear of making things worse. I have seen people knocked out for weeks with a disc. Its tpugh finding the balance between doing enough to recover, and not doing too much to cause further damage.

  19. #19
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    I second the book by Sarno, believe it or not (still find it hard to believe myself)) I stopped lifting weights 2 surguries and 15 years ago because of shoulder pain from lifting weights, even moderately. Guess what, I've been lifting everyother day for about 6 weeks now w/o any pain. The only thing I did was read "the book".

    Similar with lower back pain, chronic since 3 years ago. After MRI's, x rays, stretching, inversion, herbs, antiflamitory's, acupunture, P.T., chiropractic, core training the pain never really went away, just got worse it seemed. This year I serriously thought about quitting mtn biking (a great passion of mine) and all physical activity.

    Guess what, after reading "the book" my pain reduced better than 80-90%

    I still stretch and w/o my core regulary and take a natual anti inflamitiry suppliment called BCQ (do a google on it). But I don't think about my back anymore. After all your back is actually a very strong structure and it can really take a beating, so why all of the pain? The book helped me understand this.

    Anyway, it's working for me (knock on wood) so far, and I hope it continues.

    Good luck again,

    David

  20. #20
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    Yep What everyone else said PT is the key. Ice helps too when you get sore.

    If your symptons are not constant and don't involve any weakness, then surgery is not necessary. Surgery can fail during the procedure or after and then you are in far worse condition than before, its a risk.

    Try different PTs if you can, because in my expierience all their programs are different and that is one of the keys to strengthening muscles and limbering joints -- VARIETY of excercises.

  21. #21
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    It took me over 1 year to start to do normal stuff with little pain.
    And over 2 years to have no pain. Sciatica is really really painful. Hope u get better
    i choose mountain bikeing because i cant aford an engine

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes
    Homer8: I have true piriformis syndrome. I'm on the anti-inflammatory diclofenac sodium, just started it tonight. PT starts tomorrow.

    Been icing, stretching, doing as much PT as I can, and it's still excruitating to get on the bike, much less sit in the car.

    I'll definitely work on an anti-inflammatory diet too, and see if that helps. ANy other suggesitons or how long this misery will last will be a big help.

    I have a kneeling chair, which is great for home and work, but it doesn't help for riding in the car or on the bike.

    I also found lots of recommendations to lay on hard surfaces (than a soft bed or sofa) and lay on a tennis ball in the inflamed area (on the back pocket so to speak) when sore.

    My friend also sent me this, which helped initially, but I'm back to pain again today
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFtUgS69rPk

    Everyone else: What's the Samo book? Looking up Samo in Amazon.com doesn't really help.
    http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Back-P.../dp/0446392308

    All 400 plus reviews can't be wrong

    Mojo

  23. #23
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    Stripes,

    Glad to hear that you have a few more answers.

    1st - Don't take anything I say as gospel, it just worked for me.

    2nd - Read, SARNO....check him out in Amazon. Many would say it is hocus pocus but I believe it helped with me.

    3rd - Decompression therapy.....just Google.

    4th - Anti -Inflammatory diet, Ginger, 1 Tablespoon a day -FISH OIL, Liquid Glucosamine and Chondroitin, more than 8 glasses of water a day....again Google.

    5th - Core Strengthening

    6th - Be prepared to live with the twinges, small relapses, twitches, occasional pain, it is ok and to a certain extent normal. That being said I have never ever been nearly as bad as I was 10 years ago. I spent over 6 months in horrible pain and most of the time on the floor or in bed, but have never revisited that place again......work through this and educate yourself, it will get better.

    7th - I truly believe that you should wait for any surgery for 6 months unless you are incontinent or you have a 2nd opinion that says you need it NOW.

    8th - Fusion should be your last option.

    Again - good luck and be your own best advocate.

    Paul

  24. #24
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    sounds like a plan

    I think you got a lot of good advice.

    Dont want to bum you out but you may want to do 7-8 off the bike instead of 4-6. Rest and relaxation will help the discs heal. will depend how the back feels.

    I think if you go through intense PT they will give you traction which is the same as decompression but $4K cheaper. After the PT you may want to look into an inversion table/chair - works for some. I have one and use it but probably not as much as I should.

    Interesting point about the no twisting. I have had one minor episode with recurring back pain after my sciatica episode from about a year ago. It occured right after I did some rotating twists with a 3lb pt ball (did about 150 of them). Can't say for sure it was the twisting exercises that caused it but i isolated it as the only excercise I did out of my normal routine right before the recurring back pain issue.

    Also, you can't do enough cobra stretches and the dart streches once you are all better.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by nth_dimension
    Thanks so much for the comments. Other people's experiences are so helpful in this mess.

    4-5 months ago I had nasty pain when getting up after sitting. I would be a like a tazer shot into my thigh or something like that. Only walking a little could loosen it up. My foot was numb (the outside edge mainly) and tingled all the time as well. Pins and needles. I'd get a periodic blast of pain and numbness in the calf area as well.

    Now, after a few months, the only real symptoms are some calf aches that come and go, with the odd sensation in the foot. I still have a loose feeling in my back as well. Its hard to describe, but it just feels fragile. Flexibility is back to 99%. (ie I go to my PT and when he does the leg raise test, both legs go to 90 degress)

    I guess that's progress!

    The hardest part of an injury like this, other than the fact that your normal routine (for me 4-6 days of hard cycling) is upset, is the fear of making things worse. I have seen people knocked out for weeks with a disc. Its tpugh finding the balance between doing enough to recover, and not doing too much to cause further damage.
    What else do you do besides PT? The first thing I would do is see my chiropractor. Stretching at home helps me with my occasional back pain and tightness (Cobra extension stretches keep me going, would have to get treatment a LOT more if I didn't do those). Sciatica is typically caused be inflammation, bulging, or a rupture in the disc. It can also be cause by tight muscles around the sciatic nerve as well as misalignments in the pelvis and lumbar spine. Hope you get better soon, I would look into chiropractic care and massage if your PT isn't dong any tissue work.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes
    Another question for you guys. The worst pain I have feels more muscular, but I don't know if it's referrer pain. It's in the illiopsoas on the opposite side of where the nerve is getting pressed against.

    Oh, here's the MRI diagnosis:
    The MRI itself was torture. There's no needles, but anyone who's been in the Torture Tube knows about the noise, the claustropedia, and staying still for 20 minutes. Now that I now there's an option other than the Torture Tube, I'm going to do that.

    I saw the MRI, and the doctor explained it to me. It looks better than
    he expected, but there is damage to other discs.

    S1-L5 is not great, and it's the worst of the discs. Thinning and some bulging.
    L5 and L4 has some bulging, but not as bad as S1-L5.
    L4 and L3 shows some initial signs of problems.

    Limitations:
    No biking for the next 4-6 weeks
    No twisting
    No high impact cardio

    Cleared:
    Swimming (no flip turns, which I suck at anyway)
    Low impact cardio (except cycling)
    Intensive PT

    Have to keep taking the Aleve (2 pills, twice a day for a week) then as needed until the next appointment (one month). While I'm going to miss MBO (I'm ok with that), I've got some questions.

    He told me I make him happy because I listen to him (the restrictions above) and don't plan on pushing my luck. He also mentioned that it doesn't really matter if I'm upright or if I'm leaning, both will put pressure on those disks and it's important that I stay off the bike for now. He did tell me that PT and core strengthening are crucial here (not surprising).

    He said he doesn't need another MRI, but he's going to manage my care
    "clinically." How does that work, I assume how I'm feeling and testing
    the nerve and make sure there's no damage, or just kinda go by gut
    instinct?

    While I'm not looking to adjust my saddle for reach (yes, I know that's a bad idea and I'm putting on a handlebar with more raise for that), I'm wondering if maybe my back is rounding because the nose is too high? Could that be a problem? I have my old hydropack back, so I'm hoping that will alleviate some of the problems, but I'm hoping that when I get back on initially I'll have someone who doesn't mind being a mule for water for me.

    Also, I can't find much on decompression theory, except for scuba diving.

    Most of my pain has been in my front left hip (illiopsoas, but can't tell if it's referral pain) and all the nerve problems are on the right. Any ideas? My PT is helping me stretch it, but I'm not sure what else it could be.
    All the thinning and bulging you have in the mid to lower lumbar spine can be causing significant problems. If you had a bad experience with your chiropractor, find a better one, I don't know what I would do without mine. I would also get an inversion table and SET IT UP PROPERLY, then do it every day for a few minutes. Twisting is bad, but even worse BENDING and twisting should be avoided at all costs. It is possible that the illiopsoas pain is cause by pelvic or lumbar misalignment, or you may just need some deep tissue work (getting the psoas worked on, when you need it, HURTS). Hope you get better soon!

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    Some interesting comments here!

    Oddly enough, after 2 weeks off work on vacation in Nova Scotia, my symptoms have radically reduced. I spent a good amount of time building a tree-house and a deck, and somehow, I am experiencing the best period yet since this all started.

    And I am not doing *any* PT or stretching. I wonder if all the walking I was doing was aggravating things.

    I may just take August off totally. No biking, long walking, PT, or stretching. And then I'll see what happens. Before next season, I'll work up gradually again with a good general fitness and core program.

    Who knows? Sciatica may be a cruel mistress, but she is also mysterious.

  28. #28
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    i have a herniated disc which caused sciatic pain in my left leg. pain was so bad i spent 3 months basically laying down on my couch because i couldnt do anything else. i got 2 shots in my back about a year and a half ago and its been good since. i still feel the pain very lightly if i move a certain way but i can live with it

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by nth_dimension
    Some interesting comments here!

    Oddly enough, after 2 weeks off work on vacation in Nova Scotia, my symptoms have radically reduced. I spent a good amount of time building a tree-house and a deck, and somehow, I am experiencing the best period yet since this all started.

    And I am not doing *any* PT or stretching. I wonder if all the walking I was doing was aggravating things.

    I may just take August off totally. No biking, long walking, PT, or stretching. And then I'll see what happens. Before next season, I'll work up gradually again with a good general fitness and core program.

    Who knows? Sciatica may be a cruel mistress, but she is also mysterious.
    Sounds like TMS to me, No?

    Mojo

  30. #30
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    Mojo - I was thinking the same thing, TMS. This voodoo that Sarno talks about....that's why I tell folks to just read the book and see what happens.

  31. #31
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    I second the TMS diagnosis, Sarno is really onto something

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by adoble
    I second the TMS diagnosis, Sarno is really onto something
    Yes, and so are we.

    Mojo

  33. #33
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    I second the TMS diagnosis, Sarno is really onto something
    Perhaps. Maybe its just the fact that when things are out of mind, they just don't bug you as much.

    I build a shed footing over the weekend. Still feel pretty good. Some symps in the usual calf and foot area, but not bad. I still haven't done any PT of walking.

  34. #34
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    I also had a ruptured disc, and after surgery, I have found that bike riding has helped me more than anything else. The slight bend at the waist and using the legs seems to strengthen the lower back without causing discomfort.

    Being a concrete worker for years created the issue, but about 5 years of Chiropractors seemed to weaken the area. After surgery they told me to work on the abs to keep the back strong....

  35. #35
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    from what i understand PT doesnt really do much except help strengthen muscles. no amount of PT is going to make a herniated disc go away. it may certainly help allieviate pain though, which may be enough


    in my case the MRI clearly showed a huge buldge pressing on the sciatic nerve. my options were try the shots or get surgery, i electred to try the shots and so far they have worked. i suspect some day the pain will return though

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by rrivas11
    I also had a ruptured disc, and after surgery, I have found that bike riding has helped me more than anything else. The slight bend at the waist and using the legs seems to strengthen the lower back without causing discomfort.

    Being a concrete worker for years created the issue, but about 5 years of Chiropractors seemed to weaken the area. After surgery they told me to work on the abs to keep the back strong....
    How did the chiropractic care weaken the area? The only thing I can think of that might be bad is if you got adjusted many times a week, every week, and the doctor just twisted and popped things vs. many of the other treatment options available. I don't know what I would do without chiropractic care and strengthening / stretching at home. Have had some very severe episodes of pain where I could barely walk, but each time the chiropractic care and home care (cobra extension stretches as well as other stretches for the glutes and hamstrings) along with massage work has gotten me back to 100% again.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by nth_dimension
    Sciatica is a cruel, hard, mistress. Its been 4.5 months since it set in, and although its getting better overall, Iím still having problems.
    I know how you feel, I've been battling a nasty back problem since this March. I blew out three discs, and have been plagued with nerve issues in my legs. I have been able to ride off and on (road only for now) . More off then on lately though . I have been seeing two doctors. One an ortho and the other a chiroprator. I've had three cortisone shots so far. Finished up PT and goto the chiro now for Sport Therapy. PT and exercise works and the discs do heal but takes a long, long, long time. Also, I have read Dr.Sarno's book did'nt really do it for me. But I would check it out anyway. Drink lots of water like others have said. Also, as crappy as this sounds, stay away from your bike. I got back on after cortisone shots and set my self back because I messed up a disc again. I'm hoping to get back on in Jan.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes
    Healing vibes. Hang in there.

    > Thanks. I am getting better...I think. Its just taking forever.

    How did you mess up a disc again?

    > The final disc blow out was in March while at a MTB race. The weird thing was I did not have any problems until the next morning.


    Everything you said, plus massage helps. I know it sounds crazy, but the massage helps the tight muscles that are torqued around from the pain so you can recover. At least this is my case YMMV.

    I'm doing much better, but I don't think I'll ever be back to where I was. I can't sit for a long period (1 hour max) on an uncomfortable chair in a restaurant, but I've been able to move around a lot better and I'm starting to get my flexibility back, which is HUGE.

    >I know what you mean. I can drive for awhile without problems and can sit for about an hour too. It still can be uncomfortable at times.


    Recently, I was refitted on my bike by someone who deals with people with back issues, and this looked like a serious contributor (in addition to sitting for many hours a day at a desk):
    - Saddle was too far back on the rails, causing my hips to hyperextend
    - Stem was too short, causing me to arch my back and create tension
    - Stem was too low, putting too much pressure on my low back
    - Softer spring in the fork. Too much jarring with not enough sag.

    Once I get cleared, I'll let everyone know if that helps. Once you can ride again, don't rule out a new fit.

    If you can, see if you can get some decompression on your back. There are various ways to do this (inversion table, hanging by your arms and letting your feet dangle, PT can give you traction), and that is huge. Since my PT is done with that, I'm doing it on my own by hanging from a squat rack. We really don't have room for an inversion table, and they're expensive. There's also been reported problems with blood pressure and inversion tables, so I'm not sure how much I trust them yet.


    > I've done traction and spinal decompression. I am not really convinced that these methods work for me be I am doing them because at this point I'm giving anything a try.

    Just have to watch my shoulders when hanging from the rack to not injure myself.

    The biggest thing that's helped me with PT is finding the weaknesses are working on them. Hopefully this list will help you when doing PT:

    Inflexibility
    - Hamstrings
    - Hip flexors (psoas, TFL/IT band)
    - Adductor (inside leg muscles)

    Weaknesses:
    - Hamstrings (offsets the back pain)
    - Glutes (opposes hip flexors)
    - Adductor (opposes the abductor, outside leg muscles)
    - Abdonimals (usually the traverse abdominus, which act like a "belt" to support your lower ab area)

    > Yep. I have been working on all of the above. The exercises have been key for me. I have been able to get around pretty easily now. Its pretty weird having to go through PT and all of these exercises when I had always though I was in great shape. Eat right, exercise everyday, ride MTBs like a maniac. I'd even stretch before a ride. Oh well, Live and learn I guess.



    My TFL, particularly on the left has been the worst, which has some adhesions in it. This is what was compensating for the pain in the right side.

    I'm thinking of getting one of those "toilet bowl" type seats to sit on for flying, movies, etc. I'm also looking at getting some lumbar support for my car. Any suggestions on either of these?

    Yep. I already had a fit done on my road bike. I have not touched my MTB since March. Once I feel confident I can get back to MTB stuff I'll get a fit done on that bike. I've been doing lots of core muscle exercises and they do make a huge difference. As for a seat I don't have to many suggestions. I sometimes just put a pillow on my truck seat and that seems to work.

  39. #39
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    A little update from me as the original poster.

    It seems that I must have been doing too much PT, stretching and/or walking. I'm on the 3rd or 4th week of basically doing nothing for my sciatica issue, other than practise good back health and avoid aggrivating things like bending and twisting. Since March, these 3 weeks have been by far the best yet. I wonder if its just time that has finally helped with healing, or whether I was just pushing things too far?

    I still managed to build a shed footing, tree-house, and rearranged the basement. Maybe too much walking? Gah, who knows?? All I do know is that 95% of the day to day pain and sicomfort is now gone. I feel out of shape and the back still feels "loose", but I mostly do not have pain.

    I'm going to give it another month before getting back into the PT, and then back on the bike in October with some time in the gym.

  40. #40
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    ill give ya my 2 cents worth ....
    moved to durango colorado in 88 for 12th grade, finished high school then moved to phoenix for trade school. worked for city of glendale for 6months.. was stupid moving boxes and hurt my back. didnt even know i did cause my body adjusted itself so i wasnt in pain. ended up back in rainsylvania w/ my dad. my mom ask me one day why i was walking like i was 100yrs old, all stooped over. i didnt think/know i was till i walked past a store front and seen it myself. anyways went to the chiro for 3yrs and it helped a little but all i did was pay for his house,boat, cars etc.
    now in that 3yrs time i was very ATTENTIVE TO WALK UPRIGHT, SIT UPRIGHT, and be very careful abouthow i lifted etc.. slept on the floor for 5yrs but it never got 100% better.
    anyways my brother started going to a different chiro that was cheaper/closer to home. her name was faith. seen her once a week for a year. it never really got better with her either UNTIL one day she tried something new with me... she put my butt about 2ft above my head and POPPED my hips downward.... now mind you i always had to hold onto the table as she put me back on my feet cause it still hurt ...... she put the table up and soon as i had my weight on my feet i knew i was fixed.
    in my case my hips had rotated and thats what caused my SCIATICA. 8yrs of pain was gone in one move/pop of the table.
    ive been good to go for 8yrs + now but still have some lower back pain in the morning till i get moveing. im still very midfull of how i lift/walk/stand. funny thing was i felt the best after riding my YZ465 dirtbike for the day. im guessing cause i was working all my body and loosinging things up.
    loosing weight/getting the stomach muscles built up helps.
    good luck and i wish ya the best. it sucks and i dont ever want it back....

  41. #41
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    Update. Still doing good by doing nothing. Some days I have the odd twinge here and there, or a little bit of calf or back soreness but as each week passes, it seems like the twinges and soreness get less and less. My bad days are now much better than my best days from 3-4 months ago. The good days are basically "normal".

    I think that for the first few months of this, I was simply going overboard on stretching and walking, and not allowing the nerve to simply heal.

    Here's to hoping for more of the same.

  42. #42
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    Hey Stripes. No, I never did get an MRI. Everyone I talked to was convinced it was unwarranted, and that I didn't blow a disc. The conclusion is that there is just some irritation of the nerve some how. Rest up, and let the body heal.

    If it gets bad again, I will definitely push for more investigation.

  43. #43
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    Every MRI looks the same for most people of a similar age group. We all have at least one bulging disc and 3 anular tears on any given day, however the real question is why do they become symptomatic? Research is now showing that the inflammation resulting from disc damage is an auto-immune disorder. Simply put, the nucleus pushes through the anular rings at weak points and or tears. With grade IV and V tears, the nucleus pushes into the spinal canal and presses against the nerves. This has been known and well documented since the beginning, but this jelly material from the disc is treated as a foreign invader by the immune system which triggers more swelling and more pressure on the nerve roots. It is a very vicious cycle that will take at least 18 months of recovery. Hang in there, because most people do recover. Personally, I would not stop riding, working out, going to the gym, and doing the activities I enjoy, because being bummed only adds a whole psychological element to the problem. Be prudent of course and lay off the squats and skip the jumps. I push through back problems with the help of lidoderm patches. They are really amazing as long as you don't over use them. Don't over think the MRI, Discography, or diagnosis. We are all aging and have some degree of DDD. Think more along the lines of allergy and autoimmune problem that will in time rectify itself.
    " the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." C&H

  44. #44
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    i use had sciatica a lot. lower back. i know what you mean and how painful and debilitating it is. went to a few orthopedic surgeons and one that specialized in sports injuries. all of them said to stretch and do certain exercises. i figured out i got my sciatica from sitting for long periods, long hikes, and carrying a golf bag. i still do those things but there is a few things I do now that completely helped my sciatica. i rarely get any sciatica pain anymore.

    here is what i did:

    1. stretch the hamstrings as much as you can. hamstrings are connected to lower back and if they are tight and inflexible, your lower back takes more strain.

    2. more cardio like running and riding. however, the key was to do faster cardio and really focus on relaxing the muscles when doing the cardio. relaxing the whole body for that matter. slowing the mind and maintaining flexibility when exercising. cardio puts your muscles in a better relaxed state for a long time after exercising than weight lifting, in my opinion.

    3. quit lifting heavy weights. pushed more reps at lower weights.

    4. pull-up bar or gravity inversion table. (i have both) both help in stretching. i only use the inversion table when i really hurt. works great to stretch the body for alignment but can put stress on joints especially knees.

    i know i sound like an infomercial but it really has helped me.

  45. #45
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    Have any of yall ever been to a doc who uses the "Dr. Robin McKenzie Method".

    If so have you felt (like me) strangely perplexed by the single-focus, linear type conversation that goes on during an office visit??

    Doc and PT's seem uninterested in anything outside of the boxes. They then prescribe extremely simplistic exercise. 2 stretches, 100+ times per day. Nothing about warming up, relaxing muscles, swimming, heat/cold, etc. etc. etc. Just 2 stretches, 100+ times per day.

    Then you feel guilty when you don't have time to take 8 breaks during the work day to do all the stretches. !!!!!

    http://www.mckenziemdt.org/approach.cfm?section=int

    "Assessment. Unique to the McKenzie Method is a well-defined algorithm that leads to the simple classification of spinal-related disorders. It is based on a consistent "cause and effect" relationship between historical pain behavior as well as the pain response to repeated test movements, positions and activities during the assessment process.
    A systematic progression of applied mechanical forces (the cause) utilizes pain response (the effect) to monitor changes in motion/function. The underlying disorder can then be quickly identified through objective findings for each individual patient. The McKenzie classification of spinal pain provides reproducible means of separating patients with apparently similar presentations into definable sub-groups (syndromes) to determine appropriate treatment. "




  46. #46
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    None of the people I saw reccomended the whole method. They all pulled bits and peices from various scoold of thought. I found that each PT had a different set of treatments, and the 2 doctors I saw both primarily jsut suggested "I wait and see".

    Funny thing is they were right. After 7-8 the problem is basically gone without doing much of anything for the last few months.

  47. #47
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    I got a script for PT and the therapist said he contributed to the book Treat (or heal) your own back by McKenzie.

    A lot of the focus was on three stretches: The Cobra, The Standing Back Bend and what I call The Dart (lay on stomach and arch your head and ankles).

    They also strongly recommend things like lumbar support pads during flights and long drives. I got a combination of all of the above plus some traction and my back has felt really good for a while. I try to do 25 Cobra's a day - that exercise seems like it works best for me. I also go to Pilates 2x per week.

    Ride Strong...

  48. #48
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    I have not been to a practitioner who uses solely this method, but I have done some of the stretches and can say that the first picture showing what looks like a Cobra stretch, is easily the BEST stretch I have done for my lower back.. Basically relaxing the back and doing a "push up Cobra stretch" (repetitions, not just holding the pose), has helped my lower back more than any other back exercise / stretch. That stretch along with chiropractic care and massage has helped me get through some very painful episodes.

  49. #49
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    Build Your Core!!!

    I was first diagnosed with sciatica when I was in the Navy. At the time I was very active- running a 5k 3-4 times a week and calisthenics every day. I just woke up with the pain one day. I went to the docs on the base and was given 800mg Ibuprofen and sent out the door. Six months and who knows how many pills later I was still in pain- couldn't sit, stand or lie down without that dull, throbbing ever-present ache. Through it all I kept commuting by bike to work because it was really the only time my leg didn't hurt. Weird, right? I went to the base docs again and had an xray done but it was inconclusive. I was told at that time that I might need back surgery and would probably have the pain for the rest of my life. I was freaking 26! How could I have back pain for life with having never injured my back? AND- no way was I letting the Navy operate on my back! Too many horror stories about the naval hospital... My mother-in-law offered me some foul smelling Mexican ointment one weekend saying to rub this on and it will go away. I resisted thinking I'm not putting some nasty witch-doctory stuff on but a few days later the pain was really getting to me and I broke down and slathered on the smelly stuff. I WOKE UP THE NEXT DAY WITH ALMOST NO PAIN! Holy Crap! I kept putting the stuff on and my sciatica was gone in a few days! OMG! What was that awesome sweet-smelling nectar (now...)? I still don't know what it was called. My wife says it's probably some "unguento" picked up years ago in Mexico. All I know was that it helped!

    Fast forward about 10 years and I tweaked my back bending over one morning- had to crawl back to bed. I went to a chiropractor for help but it just kept getting worse and developed into the old familiar deep, sciatica ache. I could not find the nasty stuff this time and my MIL had passed by then. I went to the chiro for a while but finally got discouraged when there was no improvement. After some thinking I realized that it seemed my back would be more prone to twinging whenever I felt I had gained some weight. I immediately started eating a little less and doing some core strengthening exercises. Within a week I was feeling so much better!

    I now believe a huge key to keeping your back healthy is to keep your core in shape. I read a book at the time that really drove this home- the "Men's Health Covermodel Workout." The author used to grace the magazine cover all the time and had suffered back pain for most of his life. He found after many years that his vertebrae were cracked and his doctors believed the only reason he was still upright was because he had an incredibly fit set of abs- essentially his muscles were performing the job his spine could not do.

  50. #50
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    sciatica

    I have dealt with this issue for over 30 yrs. Comes and goes, as some of you have lived through. Those that have been to the chiro. have sometimes been hooked to a Tens machine. The electrical stimulation machine. You can buy a home version on Amazon for 30.00. Tens 3000. When you need it most for pain it will make the pain dissapear for as long as you have the time set. It really does give relief for an amazingly cheap price. Another can't do without device is a foam roller to roll out the knotts in the muscle, that agrivates the sciatica. You can buy them from Dick"s. 3 ft x 6 in. hard roller to crush the muscle knotts. It hurts so good. These 2 devices will really help any who suffer.

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