View Full Version : Sciatic pain--does surgery help?

03-22-2006, 07:02 PM
I have a major double curve 65T, 75L, and most of my pain is in my SI (sacro-iliac) joint which at times goes down my leg to my foot. It became so bad that I had to give up a career I enjoyed because I could no longer stand or sit for long periods (cake decorating) and now have to babysit (which I hate). Physical therapy exercises only help slightly and temporarily.

I looked into scoliosis surgery but the orthopedic doesn't know if spinal surgery would make any difference in the sciatica problem. Has anyone else had any improvement post-op with sciatica?


03-22-2006, 07:38 PM
Hi Deb...

While studies show that most people have pain relief from scoliosis surgery, there are no guarantees. And, the surgery itself will cause at least short-term pain. I occasionally had sciatic pain down the front and side of my left leg prior to my scoliosis surgery. That pain was gone after surgery. I also had pain in my upper right buttock prior to surgery, which was not resolved by surgery.

Have you tried doing your PT exercises daily? I've found that it's relatively easy to get into the habit of doing 2-3 PT exercises every day. They only take a few minutes, and have helped me considerably.


03-23-2006, 12:18 AM
Hi Linda, You say that the pain in your upper right buttock was unresolved by surgery. Did you ever find out what exactly was causing that pain? I have the same problem with pain in my left hip. I had a herniated disc, which was repaired and helped with the pain down my leg. But the pain in my hip remains.

03-23-2006, 10:52 AM
Hi Caligirl...

I'm fairly certain that it's S-I (sacroiliac) joint pain. I've been doing an isometric exercise that seems to be helping somewhat. I stand with my feet facing forward. Then, I slightly lift my left leg, hold onto something with my RIGHT arm, and using my butt muscles, move my right knee slightly to the right (the foot stays facing forward). Then, I switch and do the same exercise with my left leg. I do this exercise every morning. I've been doing it for maybe 6 months, and haven't had any big flair up of that pain in all of that time.

In the past, I also found two things that seemed to bring on the big flair ups:

1) I spent too much time sitting
2) I slept on my left side, with my right leg resting on the bed in front of my body.

I read your post in one of the other threads. Who is your spine surgeon?


03-23-2006, 11:28 AM
Good Morning Linda! Thanks for the helpful exercise tip. My surgeon is Dr. Jon White, in Irvine, CA. I think that he did an excellent job on my fusion surgery. I just wish that I had been told about the other back problems that I have, that weren't helped by my surgery. I would have still had my surgery, but I feel like I have had to pry information from doctors and I do not understand why no one laid it all out for me. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

03-23-2006, 11:50 AM
Hi Caligirl...

Can I convince you to get a second opinion? I've never heard of Dr. White, can't find any information on him, and he doesn't appear to be a member of the Scoliosis Research Society. While I'm certain that there are some good doctors who don't belong to the SRS, it always concerns me when someone is having surgery (especially revision surgery) with someone who doesn't have a lot of experience.

You can find a list of SRS member surgeons here (although their website seems to be having some response problems this morning):


I don't know a lot of southern California surgeons, but I do know Dr. Behrooz Akbarnia in La Jolla, and feel that you'd be in excellent hands with him:



03-23-2006, 02:07 PM
I had MAJOR sciatic pain before the first surgery, and after the surgery it was better and came on and off, with some periods were it was worse and when it happened I took Anti inflammatories and did some PT.

But ever since I had revision surgery this last December(not for sciatica, but for a non union and broken rod, so it's non related), I decided to get a good chair and stop sitting on couches that are not firm enough and usually too low, and I also ALWAYS use a pillow while sleeping; under my knees when on my back and between my knees when on the side. So these things were most helpful to me:

1) Walking or swimming
2)The pillow between the knees while sleeping or resting
3)A good, office chair that is not too firm or soft, with a firm pillow for lumbar support and I use while being online, watching TV, etc.
4)No sitting or drives for long periods of time, not that it's good for anybody with or without back pain, breaks are good and much needed for the whole body.

I know some people use some nerve pain meds that can help too(Neurotin, for example), and there are some other surgeries beside the scoliosis one that can help.

My two cents on the subject :cool:

03-23-2006, 05:09 PM
Hi Linda, Thanks for the referral. Do you know this Doctor personally? I am certainly willing to drive that far if I get a good recommendation. I think that what I need is for a doctor to take a look at my entire back, neck and all, and give me a complete opinion on my prognosis. All I have been given are bits and pieces from this, that and the other doctor and it is making me crazy! Do you think that a doctor would take offense, or think that I am crazy if I went in and asked for that kind of information? Also, Sweetness, I agree with your pillow for sleeping advise! I could never get along without all of my pillows!

03-23-2006, 11:30 PM
I had horrible sciatic pain before my surgery last month on my left side. It would radiate all the way down into my leg and knee. It was debilitating.
I can honestly say that the pain from that is completely gone. :)

03-23-2006, 11:59 PM
Hi Caligirl...

I do know Dr. Akbarnia, but not really on a professional basis. I met him when he was up here at UCSF doing an informal fellowship some years ago. He's had excellent training, and his patients seem to love him.

Not all spine specialists treat everything from cervical to sacrum, but I'm thinking that most do, so you should definitely talk about the big picture with whomever you choose to do the surgery.


03-24-2006, 11:39 AM
Thanks Linda, I think that that was the problem last time. Dr White only addressed the actual curve and when I started to have problems above and below the fusion, I felt like I was kind of "blown off". I think that correcting the curve put pressure on problem areas that had developed to compensate for the curve. These areas did not give me pain until the curve was corrected. No one has ever looked at my entire spine and explained the whole situation to me. I have tried to get them to but each doctor seems to only want to focus on one area. I do not understand why. Sometimes doctors can be intimidating, and even though I know that I should put my foot down and insist on a more thourough explaination, it is hard when they are on their way out of the room.