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Some advice for Sciatica please

Hi, and
thanks in advance for any help I receive.

I've been
suffering from sciatica for about 12 weeks.  It's not getting any

When my
symptoms first appeared, I thought a bit of self-medication and gentle exercise
would do the job.  But the pain got worse and I needed some stronger pain
relief.  When I lost the ability to urinate - I was 'red flagged' into
A&E for suspected cauda equina.  I got the all clear, the problem was
a consequence of taking tramadol I had been prescribed.   I've has
sciatica before but it's never been this bad.

question is this, should I be exercising over the Christmas holidays?  I
can do the McKenzie but the other stretches hurt too much.  Is the advice
on keeping moving applicable to a herniated disc?

finally, and I recognise that this will be a best guess, can anyone give a

…are my
back and I doomed?





  • LizLiz Posts: 9,693
    edited 12/23/2018 - 3:58 PM


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Jamie, do you have a good pain management doctor? If not, look for one who is  good at diagnosis as well as procedures and can give you a plan to strengthen those back muscles. I'm not sure what A&E is. This is of course just my opinion but I need to have my pain controlled before I can exercise or it becomes intolerable. And don't give up hope. I don't know your story but there is SO much good information on this site that has encouraged me to keep going. Blessings! 

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  • Hi Jo,

    A & E is accident and emergency.

    It’s where you’d go in the UK is you’re at risk of something
    serious.  Someone did suggest to me that
    we don’t have so much of a national health service, more of a national prevent
    death service.

    I’ve only had a brief assessment by a doctor (lifted my leg)
    and then by a physiotherapist.  I’ve not
    had any scans, and I’m not even sure if there’s such a thing as a pain
    management doctor here.

    Can I ask what you take for pain?  I’m on tramadol and naproxen but there’s no
    naproxen in the UK because of (stupid) Brexit.

    Would be good to know how you cope with the pain.



  • Jamie, wow that's tough when you can't get an accurate medical diagnosis! I don't know how you could exercise with that much pain and it might aggravate things. I agree that mild stretching would be the extent of what I would do. I take gabapentin for the nerve pain, a muscle relaxer when things get really bad and Percocet which I've weaned down to 20 mg per day and 25 on the really tough ones. I had a spinal fusion on L5S1 about a year and a half ago but then had a piriformis muscle injury (the sciatic nerve runs either under or through the piriformis muscle) recently which I just had injections for. I am in PT which gives some relief, I use lots of ice packs, some heat. There are some very good articles on this site about sciatica and ice/heat therapy. On the advice of my PM doctor and PT I have started walking in a community center pool 3 days a week which has helped give my atrophied muscles some stability. It is so much easier to walk in water than on land for me. And I find distractions are a good analgesic! If I focus on the pain I'm miserable especially at night. I watch movies, listen to music, talk with a friend, anything to distract me from the pain. 

    My best advice is to educate yourself and be your own advocate. I don't know what socialized medicine is like (and I wish more Americans would wake up) but if you can find a good doctor who can diagnose the cause of your sciatica, that would be a good start! My heart goes out to you, I know it's frustrating and miserable to deal with chronic pain, don't give up searching and keep in touch. We're here to share our experience, strength and hope. Oh one more thing, I also pray a lot. 

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