View Full Version : sciatica pain

dolores a
06-08-2008, 07:51 PM

Has anyone experienced sciatica pain for long stretches of time. I have pain in my left leg from lower back down to the ankle for over 7 months now. It seems that my lumbar curve is also on left side. If I have an especially busy day, on my feet most of the day, the next day I can just about walk. If so, does anyone have any suggestions on how to relieve it a bit.

06-09-2008, 12:25 AM
Hi Dolores

Been there done that! I had it for 9 months Jan 2002 to Sept 2002. The pain was crippling. It felt like a horse kicked me in my greater trochanter and it felt like a torch on the top of my ankle. This was on the right side only. I tried Chiro,Accupuncture,Accupressure,Osteopathic,Tracti on, Massage etc. Everybody was telling me to go "to a real doctor" and I did. They put me on Celebrex and Bextra and it helped with 80% of the pain. My non scoli Ortho found out that I had 4 herniated discs. I took the NSAIDs till Sept, then out in Hawaii I swam in the ocean, 8 hrs per day for 2 weeks and the sciatica went away. I guess the un-weighting and the exercise at the same time helped out.
Be careful if you take various NSAIDs, they clot your blood and promote heart attacks. The Class action law suits are happening for a reason. ( Safe as milk!)
I had several times where the sciatica had kicked back in after Sept 2002 and that is what triggered my thoughts about having my surgery. I was a Harrington rod candidate back in 1975 and I knew that I was going to have to do something as far as fusion surgery was concerned. Educate yourself is my advise, if you can go without surgery that would be great since surgery is so irreversable.
The technology has come a long way through the years, and since my curves progressed quite rapidly in the last 5 years I decided to have the surgery. It would be a good idea to keep you own copys of your x-rays, this way you can go to any Dr and check your progression. Make sure they are dated.
Im doing Ok. My old scoli pain is gone. If you have the surgery, you will sacrifice some things. The parameters are immense and everyone is different. This is why education is so important, after all, it will ultimately be your decision. This forum is a valuable tool for all of us that suffer from scoliosis, and the knowledge gained from all of us will be of benefit to you.

Good luck

loves to skate
06-09-2008, 01:09 AM
Hi Dolores,
I had sciatica for almost 4 years and it gradually got so bad I could barely walk or stand to prepare meals. After about a year and 1/2, I was sent to a neurosurgeon. The MRI showed 4 degenerated discs with a severe scoliosis. I have no idea how long I had a scoliosis, but I am sure I didn't have it as a child. The neurosurgeon said he wouldn't operate until I was in a wheelchair. I did physical therapy and water therapy and it didn't help. I also had several shots of cortisone over a period of time which gave temporary relief. I went to a Chiropractor for spinal decompression therapy followed by a regimen of stretches and core strengthing exercises with minimal results. Finally after over 3 years of sciatic pain, my god child who works for Dupuy,(they make hardware for spine surgery) directed me to a scoliosis surgeon. After consulting with Dr. Rand, I decided to go ahead and have surgery. I am 6 months post-op now and I no longer have sciatica. I still have residual nerve pain though and I don't know if it will ever go away, but at least now I am able to walk and stand in the kitchen to prepare meals and am able to enjoy life again. Surgery is a drastic measure, but when all else fails, I am grateful that there are Dr's out there that can help. I think you have to try PT and all the other non-invasive treatments first. I would suggest you find a good scoliosis Dr. to direct your treatments and determine if and when your would be a candidate for surgery. I was like a babe in the woods with no help from my primare care Dr. to direct me to the right specialist. I never could understand why the Neurosurgeon didn't refer me to a Scoliosis specialist since he doesn't even do this kind of surgery. Good luck to you. I hope you find the help you need and and don't have to have the surgery. Titaniumed is correct that you sacrifice some things if you have the surgery. Sally

06-09-2008, 01:10 AM
I would say that the easiest way for some pain relief would be to take hot baths. I had an excellent masseuse, and found out that boiling in the hot water and having the massage right after worked best.
I remember that sitting in the car was a big problem and the drive home was very painful, and thats why taking a bath at home and not triggering anything by sitting in a car worked ok.
If you have sciatica, more than likely its a herniated disc. They can heal themselves on thier own however, its not easy. I also tried a traction machine at my chiro, which would pull with 50 lbs of force very slowly and dwell for approx 15 seconds and release. We would do about 25 pulls and then I would get adjusted and do ultrasound. I went every day at $200 per day out of my pocket for 9 days and my lower back was RAW!!! I stopped and 4 days later the sciatica was gone.
It was a VAX-D machine.


dolores a
06-09-2008, 08:04 AM
I have tried the hot baths and massage, it does seem to ease it up a bit, especially if I relax for the rest of the night with my legs up!

More importantly, in your replies, I have a question that has been on my mind since I was told by my regular ortho and the first spine surgeon that I would need spinal fusion. The question is whether it is up to me in the end to have this surgery. I guess what I mean is it does not seem like when someone tells you that you have to have heart surgery, you know that this must be done, no choice! I know a lot more now from this site alone, so that when I go for my 2nd opinion I will know what questions to ask! So Ed, when you highly suggested that I get an education on this, I totally agree and the members like yourself and others have been very informative.

According to my Mom, I was born with a curvature of the spine, she said that I was not sitting up at an appropriate time. Though no treatment was ever suggested. I thought all these years that yes I have scoliosis, but did not know anything about progression, I thought it was just one of those things I'd have deal with until my last visit with my ortho who scared me half to death, telling me that at this point it is a very serious condition, and would require surgery or I would wind up paralyzed. Funny thing is this is why I went to him a couple of years ago, for the pain in my lower back -- he did not make a big deal of it then.

If you guys don't mind me asking, what was the turning point that made you decide to have surgery, and Sally it seems that you have the curve in the same place I do, lumbar, although your degree is larger than mine, did you wait to see how fast it was going to progress?

Sorry for the long post, just so many questions!

06-09-2008, 11:28 AM
I found yoga the best for me. The stretches really do relieve a lot of pain if done on a very regular basis. Hot baths and massage I found, only gave very temporary relief. It was the benefits of yoga that kept me away from the prescription pain killers for so long and got me through to the surgery date.
Good luck.

loves to skate
06-09-2008, 02:02 PM
Hi Delores a,
I couldn't take the pain any longer and I didn't want to end up in that wheelchair the Neurosurgeon mentioned, (not from paralysis but from pain) but was willing to risk having the surgery. It has to be your decision and the pain will be your motivating factor and the fact that you no longer have much of a life. When you get to that point, no amount of stretching and strengthing is going to help. No one ever told me what my curve was actually, including my scoliosis surgeon, but my MRI and xrays looked horrible with stenosis at all 4 levels. Knowing what I know now, I would have the surgery all over again in a heartbeat, because I am getting better and better all the time. Feel free to ask more questions if you like. Sally

dolores a
06-12-2008, 07:23 PM
Thanks for the suggestion of yoga Carols, as a matter of fact, I found a place that specializes in yoga for people with scoliosis. When things quiet down a bit, I am going to try a class.

Hi Sally, thanks for clarifying what made you have surgery, the pain is a big factor with myself also, and many other symptoms, of which I hope to get some answers from my appointment on the 26th of this month. One of those symptoms is not being able to sit up straight anymore. It actually fatigues me to sit at the computer more that 10 minutes, just trying to sit up. It was encouraging to here that you are very satisfied with your results from your surgery, it seems to be a common theme from a lot of the posts from other people also that, if given the choice again, they would still opt for the surgery. I am so thankful that this site was suggested to me, It's great to be able to talk to people who have been there and back, a tough road though, but worth it is seems for a better quality of life. I obviously still have a long road ahead of me, but hopefully this 2nd opinion will have good news!

06-13-2008, 01:24 AM
Hi Dolores,
I had a 49* lumbar curve that was corrected to 8*. I had terrible pain, though not sciatica. Pain is a motivating factor in choosing whether to have your surgery sooner rather then later in some cases. I had a great recovery and would have this surgery again like many others have said they would. You can consider yourself one of the luckier ones if you have only one curve to correct. I'm assuming you have a lumbar only curve?? A smaller fusion = a quicker recovery for the most part. Don't get me wrong it is still tough. My quality of life went down hill FAST! I was SO ready to have my surgery by the time I walked into that hospital! I can e-mail my before & afters to you if you are interested. Send me a PM. I was fused T10 to L4 on 2/22/06 at age 43. Lumbar only curves (on the forum) are not very common from what I have seen in the past 2 1/2 years I have been here. Keep us posted how your appt. on the 26th goes. Any questions? Let me know.

06-13-2008, 04:15 AM
Hey there, I get crippling Sciatica in my left leg, my surgeon is giving me nerve root injections for this on monday, so I just hope the injections work, lol. I'll let you know :D
Take care xx

dolores a
06-13-2008, 02:49 PM
Hi all,

Just wanted you to know I read your posts, I'll reply later this evening or tomorrow morning, running out to celebrate my fathers "80th" with my family

Thanks for all the feedback!

dolores a
06-14-2008, 05:50 PM
Hi Suzy, I'm not too sure or more to the point, I do not have a clear understanding of curve degree, I do know that I have the 48 or 49 degree lumber, I think the first surgeon's secretary told me that I also have a small, either 28 or 38 (I know big difference), but see what I mean. But this forum has educated me in what to ask the next surgeon on the 26th. The secretary said that the concern though, is the lumbar. I've been observing in this forum all the different approaches for different corrections, I am hoping that mine, if I am told again that I will need surgery will be the posterior? (from the back?) only approach! It is very encouraging to here how well you are doing, how long was it before you were able to get back to being able to do things, such as driving, walking, going back to work.

Hi Alyssa, thanks for the information on the injections, this is definately something I will ask the surgeon about because I will need some relief from this pain until I find out what will be.

Hi Sally, As you can see from my long inquiry, I finally had time to figure out or put into works some questions to ask! I guess my biggest concern right now, and I am kind of figuring out that other concerns later on down the road will be more important, but you also said you were getting better everyday, sounds so encouraging also, but from what you said your surgery sounded a bit more complicated. What is this stenosis condition, and is it common?, I think I've seen it mentioned a few times in this forum.

loves to skate
06-14-2008, 07:46 PM
Hi Dolores,
My heart goes out to you because living with pain is terrible. A stenosis is a narrowing of the canal through which the nerve roots pass. When there isn't enough room for the nerve roots,they get pinched and that is what causes the sciatic pain. It can be caused by a ruptured disc or arthritis or thickening of the facet joints or thickening of the lamina or spondilithesis (where one vertebrae slips over the top of another either forward, backward or sideways) or a combination of all of the above such as in my case. I believe that is why my posterior surgery took so long (12 hours) because each vertebrae had to be decompressed and a lot of bone removed to free up the nerve roots. It is painstaking work so as not to damage the nerves any more that they already are. So if your curve keeps progressing, the spaces get smaller and smaller. The anterior surgery in my case was to give the fusion even more stability as I want to be active and eventually get back to skating. I didn't think the anterior surgery was that awful especially when you compare it to anterior surgery for a thorasic curve when they cut into ribs, etc. Recovery for that has to be much more painful, I would imagine. I also have a thoracic curve, but it is minor compared to the lumbar curve. I certainly didn't know the right questions to ask before surgery because I only discovered this Forum in March, 3 months post-op, so I don't know my curve degrees either. I hope this answers some of your questions. Please keep us posted on what the second Dr. says. I will be thinking of you. Sally

06-16-2008, 12:52 PM
Hi Delores,

It sounds like you don't have a lumbar only curve, if they mentioned another smaller #. Your Dr. is more concerned with your lumbar curve because that is probably causing your pain. My spine was straight from my neck down about 3/4 then curved into a big letter C looking at my x-ray from the front. I was crunched on one side and not balanced by 2 curves like most are. Yes, I was very different.......story of my life in SO many ways.

It is very tough in the beginning to know what questions to ask your Dr. Take a lot of notes as you read the forum and take them with you to your next visit. I made notes next to my questions as he answered them and reviewed them when I got home. It will all start to click and you will understand what it all means sooner then you think. We are here for you and won't find a better support group then those going through/have gone through what you are!

Send me your e-mail on a PM if you want to see my x-rays for comparison. Best wishes.