anyone have sciatica? How long did it last? What did you do for cure?

Hi all: I am a runner who would run 5 miles 4 x a week. In Dec/Jan I ran 3 half marathons and I think it was too much for my 64 year old body! I woke up on Dec 26 with bad lower back pain and pain going down my right leg. Waited two weeks and went to Dr. and they gave me muscle relaxants...did not help. Waited another three weeks and went to non surgical orthopedic and they put me on prednisone (ladder) for one week. Today is day 3 (steroids)and my back is better but still get pain down the leg. I have not run in over a month and miss it. Doing exercises for lower back and hips. (x rays just showed arthritis in hip & lower back). Has anyone dealt with this? How long did it take to heal? I would love to hear your experience. Thanks!
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Replies

  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 802 Member
    Sciatica is totally unpredictable, so personal stories unfortunately won't give you much insight into how yours might resolve, but first things first I would find a really top notch physiotherapist. My MDs have always been worse than useless at managing sciatica, but my physio is a miracle worker. I mean, it takes an enormous amount of daily diligence on my part to do what she tells me to do, but I do it, and my nerves are less compressed.

    For me nerve compression, not just sciatica, is an ongoing thing I need to manage, and steroid injections are not advised for my condition. But I do respond really well to prolotherapy for a lot of my other compressed nerves. Never tried it for sciatica because I have that well managed with PT.
  • sarah7591
    sarah7591 Posts: 249 Member
    @xellercin....thank you for your insight. When you say physiotherapist....do you mean physical therapy? That will most likely be my next move. I have never heard of prolotherapy. Could you expand of that? I am able to swim fortunately but even walking starts to bother me after a little bit. Thank you for input.
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,380 Member
    I get sciatica intermittently. I had a bad bout a few months ago and tried steroids, which helped a bit. What helped more was doing exercises my husband was given for his bad back. Things like knee to chest, forward stretch, back to the floor, etc. Exercises for piriformis can also help.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,895 Member
    I've had sciatica, but it has always been a more acute thing for me that comes on suddenly and is gone relatively quickly mostly using heat compression and over the counter pain medications. My wife had more of a chronic issue and physical therapy was the only thing that got her out of it. I've had other nerve compression issues in my upper back that were chronic and lingered for weeks and months and physical therapy was also my ticket out...and I haven't had any issues in probably 2-3 years now, but I still keep up with my physio homework, so maybe that's why.
  • sarah7591
    sarah7591 Posts: 249 Member
    Thank you all for input. Yes, I think PT is my next best thing.
  • akm0615
    akm0615 Posts: 27 Member
    Yes, I have had it for 15 years now, started with pregnancy and never went away. Been managing it with lowering my inflammation, which after many years of suffering turned out to be exasperated by sugar intake. In 2020, I lost over 40 Lbs and in the process reduced my sugar intake significantly and have been pain free since. I still can't hike, my sciatica pain comes right back. I still have no idea why hiking is different from running or weight lifting which I do regularly with no pain.

    I highly recommend seeing a PT. There are several stretches my PT had recommended that I still continue to do after my workouts. I hope you feel better soon. I know how painful it is to do even the basic things.
  • sarah7591
    sarah7591 Posts: 249 Member
    @akm0615 - interesting about the sugar intake! Wouldn’t hurt me to try that either! Thank you for input! I can’t wait to be free of this!
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 802 Member
    edited February 3
    sarah7591 wrote: »
    @xellercin....thank you for your insight. When you say physiotherapist....do you mean physical therapy? That will most likely be my next move. I have never heard of prolotherapy. Could you expand of that? I am able to swim fortunately but even walking starts to bother me after a little bit. Thank you for input.

    Yes, physiotherapy is the Canadian term for PT, it's the same thing, but insurance works very different here, so PT does as well sometimes.

    Prolotherapy has very little research behind it, it's in the same realm as all of the "regenerative" injections like PRP, stem cells, etc. None of them have great research behind them and they are useless for a lot of patients, but they work really well for others. So it's kind of a trial and error thing.

    Prolotherapy tends to be the cheapest because it's just sugar water. The concept is that you inject sugar water into the injured area, this causes more inflammation in the area, which sounds counter intuitive, but it triggers more active healing in the area. At least that's the theory.

    A lot of treatments in medicine are poorly understood and poorly supported by research, so that's not unusual. I'm lucky that it works really really well for me and isn't too expensive where I live. $200-350 CAD depending on the treatment area, spine is more expensive. Compared to $1200 USD in some US areas.
  • sheahughes
    sheahughes Posts: 130 Member
    My sciatica was a secondary condition to my upper thoracic Schuremann's Syndrome, an MRI of my entire spine discovered it at the age of 34 (usually diagnosed in childhood) and treatment for the Schuremann's Syndrome (and quitting the cleaning/trolley collecting job at grocery store) has also worked for sciatica. Basically, I was compensating with my lower back for my upper back (very bad).

    Honestly, quitting the job that had me walking 20000 steps a day as well as bending and twisting, pushing and pulling probably worked more than the PT sessions I had (although the massages were nice) and the nerve medication and muscle relaxants did rather little.
    If it is ongoing, maybe see if other conditions can be ruled out?
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,842 Member
    edited February 3
    Treatment depends on the cause. If it is due muscle spasm, treatment is NSAIDs, possible muscle relaxers, and stretches. If the cause is a bulging disc, impact exercise like running is not recommended and PT is helpful in addition to the above.

    I have dealt with it off and on for 15 years. It worsened in the last 5 years. I discovered 2 years ago that I have two bulging discs. I avoid any spinal flexion or exercises like squats, sit ups, and running. Spinal extension stretches help me a lot. Walking too much also makes my pain worse so my activity is limited now. I used to get 10,000+ steps most days. Now I get around 5,000-7,000.

    For people with spinal stenosis, spinal flexion helps. So it depends on what the cause is….

    Definitely talk to your doctor.
  • mwilcox10
    mwilcox10 Posts: 3 Member
    Pigeon pose so long sciatica
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,270 Member
    Sciatica is a symptom of an issue. I would recommend looking at the Bob and Brad "The Most Famous Physical Therapists on the Internet" They are 2 physical therapists with close to 60 years experience between them. They have hours of educational material on sciatica. Good luck.

    https://www.bobandbrad.com/
  • sarah7591
    sarah7591 Posts: 249 Member
    This has been going on almost 7 weeks now and not much relief although I have been doing stretching exercises. It's bad at night as my leg has intermittent pain up and down. I have a PT appointment today ....finally. I also will be getting an MRI and seeing a spine specialist. I hope I find out something!
  • christyhut12
    christyhut12 Posts: 1 Member
    I actually had issues with this for YEARS! 2 MRIs said bulging disc, PT didn't work, steroid injection didn't work. Finally went to an ART Chiro and she noticed that my SI joints (sacroiliac joints) were out of alignment and putting serious pressure on the nerves. Turned out to have little to nothing to do with the discs. None of the other docs ever even looked at my pelvis alignment.
    Ended up doing prolotherapy since my SI joints wouldn't hold and it was the best thing I've ever done. After many many years of being in pain and having to brace myself for a sneeze (fell over in Target once due to a sneezing fit SOOOO embarrassed) I haven't had serious pain from my sciatic nerves in over 2 years. I still see my ART chiro (active release therapy, so they don't crack joints, they work with the soft tissue to release the joints) periodically, but she and the prolotherapy saved my life.
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 802 Member
    I actually had issues with this for YEARS! 2 MRIs said bulging disc, PT didn't work, steroid injection didn't work. Finally went to an ART Chiro and she noticed that my SI joints (sacroiliac joints) were out of alignment and putting serious pressure on the nerves. Turned out to have little to nothing to do with the discs. None of the other docs ever even looked at my pelvis alignment.
    Ended up doing prolotherapy since my SI joints wouldn't hold and it was the best thing I've ever done. After many many years of being in pain and having to brace myself for a sneeze (fell over in Target once due to a sneezing fit SOOOO embarrassed) I haven't had serious pain from my sciatic nerves in over 2 years. I still see my ART chiro (active release therapy, so they don't crack joints, they work with the soft tissue to release the joints) periodically, but she and the prolotherapy saved my life.

    I too have great response to prolotherapy, it kept me walking a year longer than I should have been able to. Here chiros can't do it though, only MDs.
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 505 Member
    I have issues with it from time to time after irritating my piriformis muscle. When I did that the first time (which was years ago) ... I mistakenly then over-stretched along with overcompensating and messing up my whole left-hip area and I'd say I had that pain and wasn't able to run for like... 8 months or so.

    I focused on glute strengthening exercises when they were not painful.

    In May of 2020, I had piriformis issues again...but it did not hurt when I ran so I continued running and doubled-down on my strengthening routine, added in more back-chain stuff and joined a Planet Fitness that opened near me to get some more weight (I'd just been doing body weight stuff at home).

    I've also now started realizing that my left hip area is just really tight compared to my right side. I still have left buttock/hip/outside or knee and ankle pain related to this but usually it's acute and not an issue for me as long as I stay on my strengthening routine and am working on doing stretching (daily) and mobility work.

    I know that at one point when it was really bad the first time I injured it I'd looked into heated ultra-sound therapy...maybe that would help. Or have you been to a PT to get some routines going?
  • sarah7591
    sarah7591 Posts: 249 Member
    I have issues with it from time to time after irritating my piriformis muscle. When I did that the first time (which was years ago) ... I mistakenly then over-stretched along with overcompensating and messing up my whole left-hip area and I'd say I had that pain and wasn't able to run for like... 8 months or so.

    I focused on glute strengthening exercises when they were not painful.

    In May of 2020, I had piriformis issues again...but it did not hurt when I ran so I continued running and doubled-down on my strengthening routine, added in more back-chain stuff and joined a Planet Fitness that opened near me to get some more weight (I'd just been doing body weight stuff at home).

    I've also now started realizing that my left hip area is just really tight compared to my right side. I still have left buttock/hip/outside or knee and ankle pain related to this but usually it's acute and not an issue for me as long as I stay on my strengthening routine and am working on doing stretching (daily) and mobility work.

    I know that at one point when it was really bad the first time I injured it I'd looked into heated ultra-sound therapy...maybe that would help. Or have you been to a PT to get some routines going?

    @westrich20940 your experience sounds like mine. I am going to PT....not sure if it helping. I went and had an MRI and they did not really find anything significant (I guess that is a good thing). The orthopedic thought it was my spine (sciatica) but then then after the MRI the spine specialists wants me to have cortisone shot in hip to rule that out. I almost wonder if my piriformis is inflamed and touching my sciatic nerve? Could have happened from all that running. I'll ask orthopedic when I go for the shot. I cannot walk even a quarter of a mile and it will hurt so bad. This is from someone who was running 5 miles 4x a week 3 months ago. The spine Dr. put me on gabapetin for at night when the pain hurts. Will give it a try. I just want my old life back! I am focusing on glute and abdomen strengthening and stretching.
  • avatiach
    avatiach Posts: 166 Member
    For my mom, yoga really helped with sciatica.
  • westrich20940
    westrich20940 Posts: 505 Member
    @sarah7591 I'm so sad for you. I know that at times when it's flared up on me over the past couple years, even the thought of not being able to run felt like it would devastate me.

    I'm happy you're going to PT, I was almost going to do that. I happen to also have a good friend who had a slipped disc in her back that was causing her a lot of sciatica as well -- and she was on a similar regimen to you it sounds (gaba and PT). She's much better now, but I know she was frustrated at having to be pretty sedentary for a long time.

    Talk to your PT more I'd say and ask if the strengthening/stretching/mobility stuff would be good to start all together. I also almost made an appointment with an OD (osteopathic doctor), who also specialized in musculoskeletal ultrasound --- I got a recommendation from a friend who's struggled with some tendonitis and he is still my plan if I ever get bad pain that I can't kick on my own again. So maybe look into that type of doctor -- usually their appts are long and detailed and his included an ultrasound -- and there was a PT office right there too in case I'd need that. It would have been out of pocket I think but at least the first appt was less than $250ish....so to me it was worth it to at least start to figure out what was going on.

    I wish the best for you and hope you can get back out to pound the pavement soon!