My Sciatica rollercoaster so far.

Good afternoon everyone!! I´ve been visiting  this forum
quite often over the last couple of months. And I`ve learned a lot. So today I
feel that I should share my story with the other users, and hopefully it might
be of some help to other people out there. It´ll also help me get it all off my
chest. Forgive me, in advance, if the post gets too long.

My name is
Gabriela. I´m a 32 year old woman from Brazil. I work from home. I´m not the
most physically active person, but i´m not sedentary either, i do yoga every
week (not anymore). I´m not over weighted. The fact is I´ve always had a really
bad sitting posture. My sciatic and lower-back pain issues started 2 months ago
back in March 2019. And my life´s turned into a roller-coaster of constant
pain, bouts of anger and depression ever since. So without further ado, let´s

THE BEGINNING. Back in the first week of March, I started feeling a burning pain in
my right hip after doing some glutes workouts. I decided to brush it off, as
I´ve had this kind of pain bug me in the past. A few days later though the pain
got worse. And, soon after, a very weird lower-back pain began. Weird because I
had never experienced it before. And yet, I still decided to ignore it,
thinking  that I´d be feeling better in a
couple of days. As it turns out, I was dead wrong! All I did back then was to
pop paracetamol and get some bed-rest and cold packs. That routine lasted for 2
weeks total. The pain did not let off. Not even a bit. Still, I stuck it out
and went grocery shopping with my husband, only to come back home in tears. The
lower-back pain had got excruciating, to say the least. That night I couldnt
sleep and cried all night long, knowing full well that something was very
wrong. The next day, I called a local clinic and got an appointment with the
orthopedist for the next week. In the meantime, I took Advil and a muscle
relaxant to counter the lower-back pain and now lower-back and leg spasms! At that
point, I was already feeling depressed. 

#1 (spinal specialist). I went to the clinic along with my husband, who was
already extremely concerned. We waited for 1 hour. The consultation lasted 5
minutes, during which I told him about the symptoms I was having. He said it´s
a slipped disk and prescribed an MRI and X-ray scan for lumbar and cervical
spine (as I was having some tingling in my arms back then). He also sent me
straight to Physical Therapy, and prescribed some codeine in case of extreme
pain. From that day on, I cried every single day. But, at the same time, I went
into full-research mode to try and learn more about herniated discs on the
internet. In the process, my anxiety levels went through the roof. Got my MRI
and X-Ray done. Results would be out in 8 days. In the meantime, I started
Physical Therapy, which I very deeply regret to this day!

PHYSICAL THERAPY BOTCH-UP. During the PT sessions, I would do some stretching, TENS machine and some infra-red therapy. In the 1st night, in addition to the
already existing burning pain in my right leg, I started feeling an extra
burning pain in my left leg. So both legs were burning. I didnt think much of
it. In hindsight, how stupid I was..... The next day, I was back to another PT
session with another round of stretching. In the 3rd day, something scary
happened. The burning pain started spreading to my inner thighs up to my groin.
Both legs were affected. The burning went down to my foot. That night, no
amount of ice, hot-pack, and medication would do anything for me. My left leg
started feeling heavy and, at the same time, I would get some crazy strong
spasms, all the while having my lower back pain shoot up. That was the night I
ended up in the ER.

ATTACK.  At around 6 pm, I had my very
1st anxiety attack. Only back then, I didnt know I was having one. I called my
husband in tears and told him I was dying, because I was having trouble
breathing and couldnt move my left arm. All my muscles contracted at once. I
couldnt even hold the phone properly. My husband freaked out, called a cab, got
home and rushed me to the hospital. When we got there, I was placed on a
wheel-chair as I couldnt walk, since my left leg was weak. Within a few
minutes, I was admitted to the ER and got my arm full of IVs delivering 4
different types of medication I had never heard of before. While I was there,
an orthopedist showed up and said that I might have a pinched nerve. That was
the 1st time I heard that term "pinched nerve". That night, we left
the hospital around midnight. And it was also the 1st night I could sleep
without any pain. It didnt last much though....

& BACK TO ORTHOPEDIST #1. At that time, due to my deteriorating condition,
my husband was forced to cancel an important business trip and we decided to
cancel our vacations in Canada. That was when my depression/anxiety peaked. At
around the same time, I got the MRI and Xray results back, and learned that,
after all, I did not have a slipped disk. I freaked out. My lower-back pain and
sciatica got worse to the point of making me limp. My husband managed to get me
an emergency appointment with orthopedist#1. Again, we waited for 1 hour and
the consultation lasted 5 minutes. During which he proclaimed that I do not
have a herniated disc, and prescribed pregabalin, a spinal block and more
physical therapy (?!?!)! That day I got home and cried, because while I didnt
have a slipped disc, I also didnt know what I had. So I decided to look for a
2nd opinion and also started writing up a journal reporting on my symptoms.

ORTHOPEDIST #2 (spinal specialist). A few days before seeing orthopedist#2, I
had an episode where I experienced a loss of sensation in my left leg, which
caused me to panic. The consultation with orthopedist#2 went waaaay better than
with orthopedist#1. He actually performed some neurological and orthopedic
examinations and talked with me and my husband for quite some time. He looked
at the MRI and confirmed I do not have a herniated disk. And prescribed:
pregabalin, tramadol, acupunture,  Electromyoneurography
(EMNG), psychological treatment to help with my anxiety, a consultation with a
neurologist, and told me to quit PT altogether. He was also against the spinal

NEUROLOGIST #1. He was a neurosurgeon. By then, my lower back pain was still
strong. Both legs were still burning. And new feelings in the leg were added to
my collection, such as: pins and needles, tingling, and a weird feeling on my
skin. The EMNG exam didnt last long and I got the results the same day.
Results: L5-S1 lumbar radiculopathy in both legs. At least now I know what I
have. I asked him when i would get better, and the answer was: It takes time, weeks, even months to heal nerves. He was also against the spinal block.

MEANTIME. At this point in time (April), I couldnt do much. I would lay on the
floor on my Yoga mat most of the time. And my husband does all the chores
around the house, because I still feel pain and burning. I cannot walk for more
than 20 minutes and I cannot sit for longer than that either. I cannot work in
my computer. Even small things like putting my clothes on, or brushing my hair
feel like a major struggle. My life was turned upside down... 

NEUROLOGIST #2+ACUPUNCTURIST. Neurologist #2 is also an acupuncturist. He is an
old neurologist. He performed a batch of neurological exams on me. He examined
the MRI over and over, until he spotted something that other doctors missed: a
tiny bulge in my L5-S1 area barely touching the sciatic nerve. However, the
micro bulge was enough to cause a lot of pain.  I scheduled 10 sessions of accupunture to help
relieve the lower back pain. He told me to not do much effort, do light walks and wait...

THINGS THAT I TRIED. Mckenzie Method - did not work, instead it caused me a new
sciatica flare-up. I also started doing short walks during the day. I bought a Sit
Stand Lay Down Workstation so i can use my laptop in any position.
Decompression – very good for a few minutes, then i paid the price in more
pain. Watched an interview with Dr Stuart McGill, where he says things about
lower back pain and sciatica that makes a lot of sense to me. I´m following some of his advices.    

I did not
try a chiropractor. At this point i was not confident enough to let someone
manipulate my spine.

SITUATION. After 2 months, here´s where I stand. 

Medication: pregabalin,
vitamins, tramadol (only in case of extreme pain). Treatment: cold-hot packs,
bed rest, short walks during the day, acupuncture, massage. I also have to be
very aware of my every move, as any wrong move is enough to trigger a flare-up.
Also have to be very aware of my posture at all moments. I don´t bend forward or twist.

lower-back pain has subsided a bit. The spasms got better, i don´t limp anymore. Sciatica: burning
and tingling are still around, however they keep switching positions around my
legs and buttocks every now and then. One day my left thigh is burning, the
other day it´s the right thigh. One day I have no burning, but instead got pins
and needles. And so on and so forth. 

Anxiety and depression: seems to be under
control, but still around. Sometimes i feel really sad for all the things i cant do, feel regretful for ignoring the first pain. 

I still
can´t do the house chores, i can´t sleep in side position or sit for long
periods of time. I don't wear my skinny jeans anymore because it causes me pain for
some reason.

I keep my
journal to track my improvement.

And that´s
it! Sorry for the long post.  Every day
is a new day in my battle against sciatica! Some days I feel hopeful, some days
I feel like jumping off a bridge! The bright side is that I got my husband by
my side at all times!

I´ll keep
on posting updates on a weekly basis.    



  • #Update#

    Hello! A few updates of my condition.

    Last week was quite good, the lower back pain was manageable and the sciatica wasn´t bothering so much. I could stand and sit without (much) pain and i thought that maybe i was getting better. And that was my mistake! You think you are getting better and start to do the things you are used to, big mistake indeed...

    So, on Friday I decided go to the mall, just to get out of the house. I was walking, no very fast, but after 20 minutes the lower back pain begun. I sat for a few minutes but i didn´t want to go home just yet. I thought it would not get any worse and continue for more 30 minutes, went to some stores and wen the pain really bothered me i went home. That night I felt more pain in my back and leg but was able to sleep.

    Next day, Saturday. Husband asked if I was ok enough to go to a restaurant, I was in little pain but said yes because 1 - It was the first time in two months we were going out together and 2 - My mother-in-law was visiting us to help around the house and make tons of food, just to help me.  So we went. 

    Everything was fine till we sat in the restaurant chairs, some very soft chairs that makes you sink. So five minutes after sit my back started to hurt. Husband asked if it was everything ok and I said "sure". But after 15 minutes I had to get up, that brings some relief and after more 15 minutes I sat down again. And the meal was pretty much it! Sit/get up, sit/get up.  At the end i was exhausted and in pain. When we got home i went straight to bed with some cold packs. But it would get worse.

    Later that night the lower back pain was so strong i could barely stand and the sciatica was killing me!!! My left leg was burning from hip to toe and numb at the same time, I was tired and angry. So I took a Tramadol and was out for the night.

    Next morning i woke up fine, the pain was gone as was the burning. My back was just a bit sore and stiff. But when I tried to stand I felt a shock like pain in the middle of my back and had to sit down again. Tried to get up and this time the shock pain was in my hip. And then some CRAZY pins and needles began and i felt it all over my legs, my buttocks, my feet, my hips, even my pelvic area. Any small movement send pain through my back...I stayed the hole day in bed with hot and cold packs. Even take a shower was torture. 

    Today my back is a little better, I didn´t take any pain medications, but the pins and needles is still around and it bothers me so much!!! And at the end of the evening the burning start all over again in my buttocks and left leg. Only walking and standing it get a bit better.

    So I wonder if I damage the nerve more by going out and sitting in that soft chair? Is all this normal? Should I be worried? 

    One thing i´m sure now, listen to your body! If hurts, just stop!

    I hope to get a little better this week, for now i´m just taking small walks during the day and when the pain start I stop. I´m also being extra careful with my posture and movements.

    That´s it.

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  • I have a small herniation as well. The thing that stinks for us folks with small herniations causing pain is that conservative treatments don’t always work and surgeons are extremely cautious about operating on people with only a small bulge or small herniation.

    I wish you the best. Personally I would take your MRI to a new neurosurgeon and ask him or her to look carefully at L5-S1 and ask if there’s anything surgical in nature present. 

    I’ve been stuck in a very bad way for over three years. I can’t exercise and have gained 40 pounds since my disc injury in 2016 as a result of not being able to work out.

    Please don’t let three years go by. I let too many people convince me I just needed to be patient and I’d get better.

    Unfortunately, three years of conservative treatments and I’m still in loads of pain and stuck at square one.

    Good luck and please keep us updated.

  • #Update#

    Hello guys! A few updates. 

    I wish I could tell that everything is wonderful but unfortunately that's not the case. 

    The lower back pain didn't change much in one week, just diminish a little bit. But not enough for me to be able to come back to my normal life. The sciatica is still driving me crazy. 

    On Tuesday I was feeling a  bit  good and I tried to do a few things but the pain came (strong) from nowhere and I had to laydown. My legs started to burn. It was so frustrating and I was so angry that not even my husband's positivity was enough to made me feel better.  I just took a tramadol and cry myself to sleep. 

    This week I also made a visit to a neurologist. He didn't seem much concerned about my case and said it was a simple one and that I don't need surgery, period! He said I must give it time to heal and be patient...because it might take a while. He advised me to look for a Physiatrist because this professional would be able to indicate the best exercises for my case. There's only one Physiatrist in my town (small town) and I booked an appointment. Problem is, her next free hour is just in 1st of July! 

    But next month we are going to our hometown to visit our family and I already booked an appointment with a neurosurgeon there.

    In the meantime I just walk and keep myself in movement as much as I can (it isn't much). I also started to sleep on the floor because our mattress isn't very firm and we definitely don't have the money for a new one. 

    This Wednesday I have a consultation with an orthopedist (spine surgeon). Let's see what he will say. 

  • crzgabycrzgaby Posts: 10
    edited 07/31/2019 - 2:12 PM

    Hi mva2018noavailable . Well, this is not the first neurologist i saw in this period and i already saw a neurosurgeon too, both said the same things, that I dont need surgery, that i should wait. The orthopedist (spine surgeon) i will see tomorrow is not the first either. In fact, i already talk to and show my exams to 7 different people, and honestly since I have only a really small disc bulge,   I´m start to think that doctors can´t do much other than prescribe some nerve medication, pain killers and physiotherapy.  It´s  like they have no idea of what to do in this case.  But we will see...

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  • Hi L4_L5. I had already done this exam and the result was "Bilateral l4 l5 s1 radiculopathy". Maybe the doctors are not very concerned because despite the pain i can  stand, and walk and move my legs and feet? 

    I hope that tomorrow i will have some more answers.

  • crzgabycrzgaby Posts: 10
    edited 07/31/2019 - 2:14 PM

    Believe me, it means a lot to me! Sometimes we feel we are alone in our pain, but i find out that there is so many people in similar or worse conditions, in my country and other countries. And now i´m able to understand people who suffer with pain and disabilities. 

    And yes, i´m doing everything i can to find answers and a solution (medication, vitamins, move more, rest, acupuncture....the list goes on) , talking to people in similar condition, even reading medical papers...Because my other option is give up.

    I really hope you find a solution to! Take care!

  • crzgabycrzgaby Posts: 10
    edited 06/19/2019 - 3:18 PM


    Hey guys! A few updates. 

    So, last week I went to the orthopedist. He is a spine surgeon. He was so nice to me, we talked for a long time, he saw the exams in detail and I was able to ask as many questions as I wanted. He seems the kind of doctor who really cares about the patient (very rare nowadays)

    Anyway, he saw the small protrusion in my l5s1 area and said it's not a surgical thing, but if I'm in pain I could try a nerve block. He was  very honest about the healing time and said it might take a while. We discussed medications and he prescribed "Duloxetine" to take along with the pregabalin. I didn't start it yet because I had read some really horrible experiences from people who took it. I talked  to a neurologist and he said that was ok take it but I'm not very confident in take something that causes dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Since I'm going to a neurosurgeon next month and book another appointment with an orthopedist in our hometown I will wait a little bit and ask their opinion. 

    In this past week the lower back pain was pretty controlled. I still can't do much physically but I had a few good days. The sciatica is still around but the burning is not as bad and the pins-and-needles sensation diminish a little. I still feel a lot of tingling and my feet get sensitive sometimes. 

    The orthopedist said it will be good if I walk more or swim. But not with pain. So this week I start to do some really gentle stretching and add a few more minutes to my small walks during the day. Sleep in the floor helps a lot too. And I'm following Dr (edited: removed physician name) advices, it's helping too. But I'm far from being well.

    And another sad thing is that I developed something called "Erythema ab igne", or heating pad burns. The appearance is not pretty and I'm using a burn balm now. I had to stop use my heating pads though. I was so used to them, even sleep using it. Now I see how dangerous it could be. 

  • #Uptade#


    So, this week started well, very well to be honest. The lower back pain was getting better (or i thought it was), i even did a few things around the house, i walked more and sciatica pain diminished too. I had some occasional pain in my right heel, but i could handle it well.

    But unfortunately everything changed yesterday. Me and husband went to shopping mall to buy a few things, i was feeling good and really want to get out of the house. But after 30 minutes walking the pain started, first just a nagging pain, not so strong. I pushed through it and decided do not sit or rest (why i was so stupid i dont know). After one more hour i was almost crying in the middle of the mall because the pain was unbearable, my heel was so sensitive and it felt like it was being stabbed with a hot knife! We decided go home and then something happened, i saw all that people walking and smiling and being happy, it was in the middle of afternoon, the sun was shinning....and there i was, in pain and unbelievably frustrated. I broke! Had nervous breakdown! My husband did not know what to do....I know that i must not push through the pain, but sometimes i get impatient and want to do everything like before....And now i´m back to ground zero.

    It´s being difficult to accept this. I´m really trying to be positive but i admit it is NOT easy, i like to walk, to travel, to do things and now i can do so little and i´m losing so much!!! It´s not easy dont be depressed. We decided that after we came back from our vacations I might book an appointment with a psychologist, husband is getting stressed as well so it might be good talk to a professional.

    Talking about vacations, we are going to our hometown this Friday and honestly i have no idea how i will endure the 2:30 hour flight. i´m trying not get to anxious about it. 

    We are also going to a hotel that has aqua therapy and thermal water therapy, we read that it helps. So we will see. 

    Good night.

  • Thanks your posts have been very helpful with my sciatica journey. 

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