It's a sciatic nerve...I know it...any experiences?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    After doing some sleuthing and making an appointment. with my GP because I can't wait seven weeks to see my Rheumotologist to get rid of this pain in my one leg (top to bottom, even butt area...:tongue:) I am sure this is it. And maybe it's because I have osteoporosis in the spine or osteoarthritis in my knee, but I don't think it's just those things. They never bothered me like this before. I think I kicked something new and funky up. :peaceful:

    If anyone has had any experience with this fun :faint: problem, can you tell me what kind of tests/x-rays to ask for to see if it's the sciatic nerve? GP is willing to be very helpful. I just need to know how to be a good consumer. Although I know I could be wrong, the sciatica bit is the only description that fits the sort of shooting, sharp pain I get...along with the other weird sensations.

    I don't know if I can afford a chiropractor, but do they help this? I do have Medicare because I'm on disability and they take it.

    As always, to the wonderful lay doctors here, thankee mucho in advance! ;)
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sciatica is so fun! Not.

    Pain medications really dont help it much. Xrays wont help though an ENG can help diagnosis it. Most docs will know what you are talking about simply by listening and feeling for the pain as they touch you. There are some PT exercises that can help...stretches mainly. I love this lidocaine/cortisone shot right back...where you get the dimple in your lower back for it. Have to go to a ortho though here to get that shot.
  3. jal

    jal Member

    Lots of experience here. The sciatic nerve pain rears its ugly head if you have a slipped or herniated disc or a ruptured disc. The pain travels over the buttock and down the side of he leg and can even reach into the foot. It can be confirmed by an MRI. An x-ray will not confirm this. Do not go to a chiropractor until you rule this out as more damage can be done.

    I ruptured my first disc at the age of 14 and had to have surgery. Over the years I have subsequently herniated a few others. The rx for that is typically physical therapy and stretching exercises.
  4. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    An ENG will diagnosis it. And is much cheaper than an MRI, so that's probably what they'll go for first.
  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Just my experience. Pain was *excruciating*, 10/10, worse than unmedicated childbirth. Not back pain, but it really was focused in my hip and then ran down my leg. Severely herniated L4/L5 disk, diagnosed by MRI with- contrast. Surgery did the trick until I sneezed 2 weeks later and reherniated the same darn disk. Actually heard it pop. Surgery took care of it again. I'm now very careful because there's not much disk left and if I have problems in the same spot again, it's either fusion (yuck) or a prosthetic disk (which is equally yuck due to potential complications).

    I did have actual back pain the year prior, same disk problem but not herniated. For that I did do chiropractic along with a lot of gentle walking. That did help but it was a slow process. I did have a MRI prior to starting chiro tx because it can make things worse. Once I had blown the thing out, no question in my mind that chiro would have been the wrong choice.

    Before I had the surg, I had one dr. recommending epidural injections. I'm not sure if it would have worked... the guy who did the surgery said that he had to take a "huge" chunk of disk out the first time. I tend to think that an epidural would have just masked the pain - it wasn't an inflammatory process, it was plain old herniated.

    I've also got degenerative changes in the lumbar spine, probably from lifting Boo for so many years. After the surgeries, I did PT for several months. Now when my back/leg starts acting up, I get more focused on doing those exercises and it seems to take care of it (knock wood).

    I don't think you want to do *anything* until you know for sure what you're dealing with - herniated disk causing the sciatic pain versus an inflammation from osteo changes. MRI with- contrast was the definitive diagnostic tool in my case.

    My leg is still numb on the front of the shin, from knee to ankle. It's kind of a funny feeling, but as long as it's not pain, I'm happy. ;)
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I would get sciatica with every pregnancy. The sacroiliac would slip to one side or the other (thanks to the ligament-loosening effects of progesterone) and I would Know All About It.

    However, for years I've been calling a lot of my pain "sciatica" only it's not, it's actually been related to bursitis in both hips (also both shoulders). The steroid injections worked briefly, if at all, because the underlying problem is a joint which is so loose it's waving in the breeze. So I've been getting physiotherapy designed to work the muscles inside the joint, to pull my joints back into line, which hopefully will reduce the general rubbing and wear and tear of the joint not being quite lined up right. And it does seem to be working - the physio has been working on core strength, core stability and some Feldenkrais. I've been able to cut back my long-term morphine, which is a really phenomenal achievement. Even now, still only a few days post-op, I have only had ONE day (day or surgery) when I increased back to my previous dose. For me, this physio is working.

    What tests have I had? I've had bone mineral density scans. X-rays. Ultrasounds. The last ultrasound showed mild inflammation of the bursa on both hips.

    I would check out ultrasounds and X-rays first, because if you have inflammation in that area, you are very likely to have the sciatic nerve being compressed by all of that, but you can't just take a pill and make sciatica go away. It's like the docs trying to inject my hips with cortisone - while there is an underlying problem, the steroid shots won't do much in the long-term. We have to fix the cause. And the cause will be different, for different people.

    Janet, I can't recall - are you carrying much extra weight? I was told that my bursitis in the hips is highly associated with extra weight in that area. Although I wasn't actually seeking treatment until after I lost a lot of weight, the problem began when I was a "big girl" and even now, I still weigh almost 78 Kg (172 pounds) and even though most of that is simply the size and weight of my bones (I'm long in the waist, short in the leg) that weight is still what I have to try and drag around, and it is still going to have a considerable impact if I'm not using my hip joints quite right.

    The exercises the physio is giving me, are very mild, very gentle (I often feel like I'm not doing anything) but boy, are they working!

    I've had expensive tests in the past that found nothing of any real use. It's been the recent ultrasounds and resultant physiotherapy, that has really begun to help. When I say "recent" - it's almost all this year so far. I think the ultrasounds were done in December. So it's all recent, and all helping in a fairly short time.

    I hope that helps you.

  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Marg, I had sciatica with easy child. And he's still a pain in the butt. :tongue:

    I've also had bursitis in my right hip for years - even when I was a teeny tiny little thing. It started in childhood. My body's a lemon. :laugh: It's now in both hips and both shoulders. At least when it was only in one hip I could's ok, I have a spare. ;)
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, thank you, ladies. I"m sure it's sciatica. It's horrible too because no matter how you sit or lay it still aches or hurts. The top of my foot hurts too. Anyone recommend good shoes?

    I'm going to my GP Thursday. She's good and I know she'll run tests if I ask her to. Meanwhile, I'm eating Tylenol Arthritis because I have that going on too and the other stuff gives me an upset stomach. I guess I'll have to revert to water exercises after this passes. Ugh. It hoovers.

    Any other feedback is welcome and thanks again!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What i was trying to say - there can be many reasons for sciatic pain, and bursitis is one probability (given you know you already have it). The ultrasound confirmed it but of course wouldn't necessarily be able to show the actual compression on the sciatic. But for me, the physio is helping ALL the pain, including the sciatic pressure.

    I was initially seeing a chiropractor, but what he was doing (although good) was likely to be working in direct opposition to what the physio was doing, so I figured - only one modality at a time. The physio has been trying to get my body 'learning' to work those muscles inside the joint, to pull the head of the femur back into position, while the chiropractor was applying traction to get the femur head off the sciatic.

    From what I can work out in my case (and possibly yours) - the inflammation and swelling in the hip is what is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, at the point where it passes round behind the hip joint. So if you can reduce the swelling in the joint, that should reduce the pressure on the sciatic. You get stuck in a Catch 22 loop - the more inflammation, the more pain, the more you have problems which aggravate the inflammation and swelling and the more pain you are in. It all escalates.

    I hope you get some relief for your pain soon.

  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Do NOT eat tylenol! It can kill you! Acetaminophen is one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Opiods are safer.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    hear here...

    but whatever you take, especially if it's strong, you need to be under medical supervision. Even OTC (over the counter) medications can kill. We're supposed to be able to take 8 x 500 mg paracetamol tablets in a day - but if I do, I get liver damage. Six is my maximum and even then, not for too long. Paracetamol poisoning is a nasty way to die. Aspirin or NSAIDS can damage your stomach, paracetamol can damage your liver.

    Opiates can be easily over-used and they also have their problems (such as tolerance) but if you take them ONLY to manage your pain, addiction should not be an issue.

  12. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Marg, I had surgery during my 7th month of pregnancy with my oldest son. I must have been 19 or so. VERY risky. Oddly enough, I had no pain. I just would be walking and my legs would completely buckle under me and I'd fall. The cause of it for me was a huge calcium build up on my tail bone area that was cutting off the nerve to where I'd have no feeling in my legs. It also caused the major vein from your pelvis down your left leg to have to be stripped. Now THAT was not fun. I was supposed to have it redone every 5 years.'s nearly 30 years later and I've not ever had it redone. It's just a nice bulging vein that runs from the private area down to my ankle in an aging woman. ;) Not a pretty sight.

    I hope you find some answers!

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Janet, I wanted to thank you, hon.
    I'm using Tylenol until my appointment, but don't plan on having to use it a lot after that (I hope, I hope). Unfortuantely, I am medication sensitive and any stronger pain killer makes me hallucinate so I hope to use Yoga and exercise and just try hard to heal. I'll update everyone as I'm going to my first doctor today.
    Thanks for all your kind support.
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I recently suffered and went to a massage therapist, but also used Salonpas.
    IT's an OTC pain patch. IT really is helpful!