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Sciatic nerve pain. Ideas?


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#1 KKinMN

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:39 AM

This latest flare has me all over the internet looking for information and I'm not seeing anything that I haven't already tried. I figured that it's time to ask the Hive.

Back story (no pun intended) - started having the pain while pregnant with #3. It got pretty bad in the third trimester. So much that my OB commented in the recovery room that she hoped the nerve pinching would go away within a few months. At my six week checkup, it was bad again. She told me that it was likely due to being hunched over while nursing and that I could expect it to flare up off and on for the next year and then it should go away. That was five years ago.

Every few months since then, I get a flareup. It's awful. I've asked a few different doctors about it, but they tell me that it's a temporary issue from standing, sitting, sleeping the wrong way. I've tried Tylenol (I've been told that Motrin does no good). I've tried heating pads, hot showers, massages. I've tried stretches. I've tried yoga (I'm checking out a specific yoga today).

I need help with this. I can't get a doctor to take it seriously. It's not constant, no. But when it does happen, I'm in constant pain for several days and mostly stuck in bed. I'm tired of the pain and I'm tired of losing entire day to this.

Any ideas? Any way to get a doctor to take it seriously? Pain management techniques? I'm stuck in bed for the second day in a row and so frustrated.

#2 Parrothead

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:45 AM

I'm sure this is far from what you want to hear, but take your dh to the doctor with you. My friend and I were talking last week about this. Both of us have experienced doctors, both male and female, that don't take women and their pain seriously. Neither of us are from here and we traded stories about doctors from all over the country.

it might be worth a try. You might get more than a pat on the head.

Otherwise look into accupuncture. That may help.

#3 Spryte

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:56 AM

Ouch. :grouphug:

My mom has flare ups of sciatic nerve pain every few years. Out of desperation, she saw a chiro a few years ago, and it helped. That's now her go-to treatment when it starts to flare.

Any chance you can find a good chiro in your area?

And, ditto Parrothead. It's always good to have an advocate at the doc's office - someone to nod as you describe your pain, or even to say, "hey, she's not describing how bad it *really* is!" But that's not always possible.
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#4 KKinMN

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:57 AM

I'm sure this is far from what you want to hear, but take your dh to the doctor with you. My friend and I were talking last week about this. Both of us have experienced doctors, both male and female, that don't take women and their pain seriously. Neither of us are from here and we traded stories about doctors from all over the country.

it might be worth a try. You might get more than a pat on the head.

Otherwise look into accupuncture. That may help.


Good idea, thanks. At the very least my DH could back me up on how debilitating it can be.

I'll check into acupuncture, too. I think our insurance actually covers that.
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#5 Ellie

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:00 AM

Chiropractor. Most MDs are pretty clueless when it comes to back issues. Find yourself a chiropractor.

Also, this is something that helps (but will not take the place of chiropractic care): You know those big exercise balls? The ones that are big enough that you could sit on them? You lie down on the floor and put both legs on top of the exercise ball; then you roll from side to side.
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#6 HomeschoolMamaOfTwo

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:01 AM

I don't know how you feel about chiropractors but that was the only thing that helped with mine during/after baby #2.
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#7 KKinMN

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:02 AM

Ouch. :grouphug:

My mom has flare ups of sciatic nerve pain every few years. Out of desperation, she saw a chiro a few years ago, and it helped. That's now her go-to treatment when it starts to flare.

Any chance you can find a good chiro in your area?

And, ditto Parrothead. It's always good to have an advocate at the doc's office - someone to nod as you describe your pain, or even to say, "hey, she's not describing how bad it *really* is!" But that's not always possible.


I can check into chiro. I've heard good and bad stories about that. I'm a little nervous to try it! LOL. Does the chiro help the pain stay away longer, or go away quicker?

#8 KKinMN

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:04 AM

Chiropractor. Most MDs are pretty clueless when it comes to back issues. Find yourself a chiropractor.

Also, this is something that helps (but will not take the place of chiropractic care): You know those big exercise balls? The ones that are big enough that you could sit on them? You lie down on the floor and put both legs on top of the exercise ball; then you roll from side to side.


Oh, thank you! I'll have my DH pick one of those exercise balls up tonight.

#9 HomeschoolMamaOfTwo

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:04 AM

I can check into chiro. I've heard good and bad stories about that. I'm a little nervous to try it! LOL. Does the chiro help the pain stay away longer, or go away quicker?

Find one that uses an activator instead of manual manipulation. SOOOO much better. :)
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#10 Starr

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:06 AM

A chiropractor or physical therapy helps a lot. Also no comfy sitting, only nice and straight on a kitchen chair, walking or lying down. There are good back exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles once you are feeling better. You'll have to always be careful. That's the real hard part. I do find it curious that a massage didn't help. They usually help for a while. You could try an orthopedic doctor since your family doctor doesn't seem to have a plan. Muscle relaxers are also often used while in crisis. :grouphug:

#11 Spryte

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:09 AM

I can check into chiro. I've heard good and bad stories about that. I'm a little nervous to try it! LOL. Does the chiro help the pain stay away longer, or go away quicker?


She was nervous, too, as we are not generally a chiro type family for some reason. :) She think it gives relief quicker. Some chiros are better than others, though. Some give her almost instant relief, and some ... not so much. Do you have anyone you can ask, locally, for a recommendation?

#12 mamajudy

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:10 AM

My DH had serious issues with sciatic nerve pain in the past. He got himself an inversion table, which temporarily eased the pain. The problem was that when he turned right-side-up again , the pain was excruciating! Our DD then went to med school and became a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). She does occasional osteopathic manipulation on him, and he has been virtually pain free for years. Perhaps instead of going to an MD, you could try a DO ( one that practices manipulation techniques - some DOs do not).

#13 Ellie

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:12 AM

I can check into chiro. I've heard good and bad stories about that. I'm a little nervous to try it! LOL. Does the chiro help the pain stay away longer, or go away quicker?


You have sciatic pain because your spine is out of alignment. Chiropractic puts everything back, so there's no pain. However, it took many years for your spine to become out of alignment, and muscles and ligaments and whatnot have all gotten used to the misalignment and keep the spine where it is (and/or cause it to get worse), so it will take more than one or two visits to put everything back. See? So although you might not feel improvement right away, you'll need to go consistently for awhile.
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#14 mommymilkies

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:16 AM

I agree, Chiropractors are miracle workers. They really will help amazingly.

Also, pressure point massage with a tennis ball. Search "sciatic massage ball" on YouTube. I can't live without my foam rollers and yoga tune up balls. Jill Miller has a series of videos you can download on her site or buy on amazon: yoga tune up quick fix lower body, or Hip Helpers will both help target the afflicted areas and give you considerable relief.

Also, are you sure it's not a combination of other pains, too, like your SI joint or IT band? Great videos on massaging and acupressure for those areas on YouTube, too.

Hang in there!

#15 Janie Grace

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:17 AM

I agree with the chiro recommendation. I resisted it for years but I couldn't handle the pain anymore and went out of desperation. I'm 7 weeks into a 12 week program and for the first time in 10 years, my back doesn't constantly hurt. Pregnancy, nursing, carrying a baby/toddler on your hip -- your spine is out of alignment. My pelvis was torqued, too. Find a good chiro, go faithfully, do the exercises he/she gives you. You won't regret it.

#16 Spy Car

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:21 AM

This may (or may not) be relevant, but generally (in my non-expert understanding of sciatic nerve pain) the problem is most commonly caused by a pinch in the lower spinal column. But another, often overlooked reason, is that the sciatic nerve can get clamped by a muscle in the buttocks called the "piriformis" that the nerve either passes next to or sometimes through.

I'm offering no "diagnosis" that this is your problem, I just wanted you to be aware of a problem that frequently gets overlooked because it is not the dominant cause of sciatic pain.

http://en.wikipedia....formis_syndrome

I hope you feel better soon.

Bill
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#17 CaladwenEleniel

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:43 AM

I can check into chiro. I've heard good and bad stories about that. I'm a little nervous to try it! LOL. Does the chiro help the pain stay away longer, or go away quicker?


I was a huge skeptic and very nervous. And someone in my family went to one that was just awful. He tried to sell him on not doing any adjustments unless he saw the entire family first and got everyone signed up as patients. There's another in the area I would not see, based on business practices.

But there are bad M.D.s, too, right? So we did research and got recommendations. Also, my PCP (a "traditional" doctor) sees one, too, so I got full support from her when I was dealing with severe back pain. At first, I had to go often but now I can get away with going every few weeks. I don't recommend chiro for everything but I think it is worth exploring. I'm fortunate that my insurance will cover 12 visits per year as a regular copay (not a more expensive specialist copay) but my provider gives a discount if you pay the same day and bypass the insurance company. For a lot of people, the cash price is the same as a specialist copay, so it isn't a bad deal. Others may do a large, flat up-front fee in exchange for unlimited visits.

Hope you feel better, whatever you end up doing!

#18 Momof3littles

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:44 AM

Physical therapy. There can be many reasons for sciatica, ranging from issues with the spine, pelvis, a tight muscle in the pelvis (piriformis syndrome for example), all kinds of things. You need a full and thorough evaluation to identify what the source of the problem is; sciatica is a symptom. While I think acupuncture, etc. are great adjuncts to therapy for many people, if you don't address the origin, you are going to be stuck with pain.

#19 KKinMN

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:03 AM

Thanks, all! I'll check around for some recommendations for a chiropractor.

I really had no idea that so many thing could be causing this. I thought it was *just* a pinched nerve.

#20 Lolly

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:23 AM

My dd18A suffered for a few years. We tried chiro (two different ones); it gave a little short term relief. One sold us a tens? unit. It relieved the pain, she wore it A LOT. Her swim coach recommended a physical therapist. He was able to get rid of her pain with physical manipulation (basically what a chiro does) and exercises. It took over 6 mths of therapy, most of which she could do on her own at home. We also had to get her a new matttress (to replace a mattress that was only a couple of years old). Now, when it starts to flare again, we rotate her mattress. She still does the pt exercises. One trigger for her is riding in the car for long distances. The other seems to be sleep position related.

#21 Occasionally

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:28 AM

I'm someone who tried using a chiropractor for sciatica, but got no benefit. When DS7 was maybe 7 months old, it was the worst. I went to the chiropractor weekly for 8-10? or so weeks. When I didn't have any relief, he told me he couldn't help any more and I shouldn't waste my money coming back. :glare: The only thing that helped me was regular astanga yoga practice, but it took a while. I hope you find some relief soon!

#22 FLDebbie

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 11:39 AM

I have a friend who tried rest, exercise, chiro, yoga, pain meds, etc. for her sciatica with nothing helping. After her first accupuncture visit she was like a new woman.

#23 mommymilkies

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 02:10 PM

Bill is right. Sciatic pain can be exacerbated by piriformis tightness. Katy bowman has some great stretches for it on her blog. Or YouTube has some more. Lemme look at my files and I can link you to the few I use later.
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#24 KKinMN

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 02:19 PM

Bill is right. Sciatic pain can be exacerbated by piriformis tightness. Katy bowman has some great stretches for it on her blog. Or YouTube has some more. Lemme look at my files and I can link you to the few I use later.


Thanks! I'm added a Jill Miller DVD to my Amazon cart. The Core Integrations one. I thought that one might be the most helpful. I forgot to search YouTube to see if there were some videos on there. Any advice on sleeping positions? When I googled around last night, I kept reading that sleeping on the stomach is the worst thing you can do (which is exactly how I've always slept) and that sleeping on the back is the best (something I can never do!). So I tried it last night and, of course, woke up on my stomach. Is it really so horrible to sleep on your stomach, though? I'd think that sleeping on the back would put more pressure on it all.

#25 Sharon37127

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 02:26 PM

tens machine, lots and lots of ice, a period of time (like a weekend) where you are still as long as you can be (the constant movement just irritates it and makes it last longer), ibuprophen always at least takes the edge off of mine- not necessarily goes away, but keeps me from screaming and flailing about!

#26 gardenmom5

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:14 PM

I always thought the sciatic nerve was the one on the outside of the thigh - so I'm not understanding how being hunched over while nursing would antagonize it.

I had it with 1ds and 2ds. It was miserable, and I felt like a 90 year old frail lady because I could hardly walk. the ligaments in my hips were too loose.

have you tried a good chiropractor? I won't say a chiro cured mine, as I didn't go to a chiro until after my fourth child. I didn't have any sciatica with 3ds (#5). (I had other stuff. frankly - I'd take the sciatica.) My son had a pinched nerve in his back. it was finally diagnosed and cured by a chiro after many many allopathic visits and tests. (we are talking major pain, ivs, narcotics, weight-loss from pain in a 10 year old, etc.).

yoga has exercises specifically for sciatica. here is one site.

#27 gardenmom5

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:28 PM

I kept reading that sleeping on the stomach is the worst thing you can do (which is exactly how I've always slept) and that sleeping on the back is the best (something I can never do!). So I tried it last night and, of course, woke up on my stomach. Is it really so horrible to sleep on your stomach, though? I'd think that sleeping on the back would put more pressure on it all.


sleeping on your stomach twists the spine and everything connected to it. (shoulders, pelvis, etc.).
sleeping on your back allows your spine to be in a healthy and stable position.

#28 briansmama

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:32 PM

How supportive is your mattress? I used to get flare-ups a lot after ds1 was born until we replaced our mattress with one that is higher-quality and more supportive.

#29 kitten18

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:35 PM

This may (or may not) be relevant, but generally (in my non-expert understanding of sciatic nerve pain) the problem is most commonly caused by a pinch in the lower spinal column. But another, often overlooked reason, is that the sciatic nerve can get clamped by a muscle in the buttocks called the "piriformis" that the nerve either passes next to or sometimes through.

I'm offering no "diagnosis" that this is your problem, I just wanted you to be aware of a problem that frequently gets overlooked because it is not the dominant cause of sciatic pain.

http://en.wikipedia....formis_syndrome

I hope you feel better soon.

Bill


:iagree: I *know* that my sciatic pain is caused by piriformis tightness because when I'm exercising and stretching regularly I don't have sciatic pain. If I do things to tighten my piriformis, a lot of vacuuming, standing in one spot for a long time (ironing), etc. then my sciatic pain comes back.

#30 mommymilkies

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:47 PM

http://www.alignedan...ysays/nightowl/

http://www.alignedan...formis-holiday/

#31 caroljenn

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:19 PM

I have sciatica. When I have a flare, I take two Tylenol AND two Advil every 4-6 hours. They are different meds and do different things, so it's okay to take them together.

I also do one type of stretch, to stretch the nerve that's causing the problem. Lay on your back, bring whichever side's leg is bothering you (on me, it's always the right) into your chest and hold it there. You should be able to feel it stretching. Keep doing that whenever you can for a couple of days and the flare will subside.

These tips have worked wonders for me, but I always have to do all of it. Never had to resort to going to a chiropractor or acupuncture or anything else. And my sciatica is so bad sometimes it feels like fire down my right thigh, enough that it's hard to walk!

#32 boscopup

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:16 PM

I get this periodically. Mine is a disc issue, but it's worse during pregnancy when I get the SPD stuff. I had to see a chiro weekly during pregnancy just so I could walk. She had me do some exercises to stretch the piriformis, and that did help.

Things that usually help my low back in general (the source of my sciatica): back exercises my doctor gave me (though I lent them to someone a while back and never got them back, and we're no longer friends, so I might as well just get a new copy from my doctor :tongue_smilie:), Yoga, any kind of abdominal strengthening exercise (strong abs help support your back), Peggy Brill's The Core book (see if your library has it, to try it out), sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair at the computer, and years ago I did physical therapy quite successfully.

I no longer see the chiro, as it really was becoming something that I had to keep going in order to feel comfortable. I prefer physical therapy. But during pregnancy, chiro was just plain necessary - I couldn't even take a step sometimes because of the SPD.

#33 Jaxmum

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:08 PM

I swear by heating pads and Ibuprofin. Your hair looks great! :-)
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#34 KKinMN

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:11 PM

I swear by heating pads and Ibuprofin. Your hair looks great! :-)


That's pretty much my arsenal until TJ Maxx gets more exercise balls in and Amazon delivers the DVD I ordered. I've got a recommendation for a chiro and I'll call later this week to see about an appointment there. Heating pad and Tylenol and Motrin are what I'm relying on until then.

Thanks. :)

#35 Isabella

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 07:59 PM

My MIL had terrible sciatic pain for quite a few years until she started taking large doses of Vit C daily. The good type, not the orange flavoured chewables.;)

#36 Deee

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:04 PM

I've had sciatic pain for nearly 25 yrs (I damaged my back in the army pretending I was as tough as the boys). The chiro made it much, much worse and damaged my neck as well. I have had lots of help from a couple of physiotherapists, particularly after acute injuries. I agree with Bill - a spasm of the piriformis muscle can cause sciatic pain. It can also be exacerbated by weak abdominal muscles and tight hamstrings which increase the curvature or "sway" in your back.
D

#37 ocelotmom

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:59 PM

I had sciatic nerve pain that left me barely able to walk. When I quit aikido (and the fairly aggressive stretching that went along with it), it disappeared.

Kind of counterintuitive, but I think something I was doing was probably pinching a nerve.


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