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Old 01-02-2012, 06:13 PM
 
4,805 posts, read 19,556,085 times
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Does anyone have suggestions for immediate relief of sciatica pain?

About two weeks ago I began experiencing serious low back pain and received muscle relaxant and pain medication from an orthopedic specialist, who also scheduled an MRI and physical therpay. Initially, the medication was helping--I was slow and limping, but mobile and mostly out of pain.

Last week, the sciatica pain started. At first, it was just in the morning. Then on Friday something changed--the pain is excrutiating. I can't even walk ten feet without collapsing. I'm unable to get to the bathroom, to bathe, or to feed myself. I called a cab and crawled on all fours to the curb and had the cab take me to the ER. They were able to confirm that the mri showed a pinched nerve. They prescribed stronger pain medication but they are just muscle relaxants and pain killers. They do nothing for the nerve pain in my leg. Beyond that they were completely unhelpful and simply told me to call my regular ortho in the morning.

I really need some immediate relief. I can't make it to a physical therapy appointment or to a doctor's appointment. I can't even make it to the bathroom.

Are there some exercises I could do at home that would alleviate the pain? Other home care that might help?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. I'm in misery here. Thank you.
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
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Do you have an ice pack?
If not, get one asap.
I'm dealing with this now but it's not nearly as severe although a couple of weeks ago i was having a difficult time walking, sitting, etc. for a few days.
This has been "building" for some time and i was too stubborn to see a physical therapist and then i was living in a house temporarily and was sleeping in a terrible bed and also had to do some heavy lifting and it just got so bad.
If finally motivated me to seek some help.
There are definitely exercises that you can do but you need to find a good physical therapist and learn just exactly what to do because every body and condition is different.
Trying to stretch or do anything at this point without expert guidance could make things a lot worse.
But i don't see any harm in recommending icing.
Ice for 15 - 20 minutes.
Put the ice pack starting at the base of your spine extending up the spine a few (or more) vertebrae (depending on the size of your ice pack).
Wrap the ice pack in a pillow case.
I almost gave myself frost bite when i first iced. I fell asleep with the ice pack directly on my skin. Don't do that.
Do as little sitting as possible.
If possible, don't sit at all.
Lie down or stand up.
The pressure on the spine during sitting is huge .. much more (i think like twice as much) than standing.
Try not to bend over or twist your lower body.
Keep a natural curve in your lower spine, ie; don't round your lower back.
If you have to bend over, use your knees and squat without curving your lower back.
You want to stabilize your lower torso as much as possible so stay aware and pay attention.
It's painful but you can heal from it with the right guidance and approach.
If you can, avoid prescription pain meds as much as possible.
Good luck.
Sorry that you're in so much pain.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:13 PM
 
4,805 posts, read 19,556,085 times
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thank for the advice, i do have ice packs and i'm rotating them through the freezer. just getting up to get to the freezer is agony! unfortunately i live alone so i;m completely on my own for every little thing.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:53 PM
 
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Oh I feel your pain. I have intermittent sciatic pain from my piriformus muscle pressing on it. I have a good chiropractor. It goes all the way down into my foot, at my knee it is the worse. Seems my IT band is involved too.

I do alot of massaging of my leg when it is bad.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 5,726,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kodaka View Post
thank for the advice, i do have ice packs and i'm rotating them through the freezer. just getting up to get to the freezer is agony! unfortunately i live alone so i;m completely on my own for every little thing.
I was alone when it got really bad (and with no one to call on to help me) and it just freaked me out.
And then of course the fear makes it all the worse.
Fortunately i was able to find and get myself to a physical therapist and she was able to advice me.
I had been getting relief from deeply squatting and rounding my back and stretching my lower back area and though it brought temporary relief, i learned that i was greatly exacerbating the condition by doing that.
So knowing exactly what to do is important.
Also, i hope that you have a good bed!
I think that, though i had an underlying condition but one that i could deal with and that would come and go, i actually injured myself while turning in a horrible bed.
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:33 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,631 posts, read 53,468,042 times
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I like a hot bath, as hot as you can stand it, with Epsom salts. Use about 1/4 of the milk-carton sized box per bath. Lie in it until you start to cool down. If no tub, put some Epsom salts in a sink of very hot water and wring out a hand towel in it. Put it on your lower back and wait for it to cool. Then repeat. It provides temporary relief but the good thing is you can repeat as often as necessary. The first time I did it, I could actually stand up straight when I got out the tub! It lasted long enough for me to get dressed then the pain came back but slightly better than before.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:04 AM
 
Location: Central Virginia
834 posts, read 1,941,497 times
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I'm sorry this is happening. Been there and it's horrible!

Years ago I joined a gym that has back machines. You sit on it and twist side to side. Also there is forward and back motion. This has made all the difference in the world for me.

We moved recently and I stopped going to the gym. I was going to wait until after Christmas. Two weeks ago, I woke up to The Pain. It was back with a vengeance. I was better the next day but still in some pain. On the 3rd day I joined the gym again. I've been doing the back machines 4x a week for the past two weeks.

I don't know about others, but for me those machines are what helped me. They stretch and work my back in a way that nothing else can. Seriously look into either a gym or getting a machine for the house. But my gym has 4 different machines I used. Front to back, moving forward into a curl, sitting and twisting my top half, and putting my knees on a bench and twisting my bottom half.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:49 AM
 
5,239 posts, read 6,512,514 times
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My dentist had it pretty bad and the thing that helped him the most was acupuncture, he also bought one of those inversion tables. I get it bad now and then too, so I understand exactly what you are going through. I saved an article a guy wrote about his own pain with sciatica, he cured himself with water therapy. His blog article is gone now I guess. I would suggest you look up using water therapy for sciatica and you might find more specific information. I recall he said he began by using a flotation device he would kind of lay over and let his legs dangle, slowly he moving his legs in the water and as he felt a bit of relief was able to do more exercise. He was hurting a lot so he had to take it slow. But he had been to doctors, therapy, used the meds, the whole bit and this was what cured him. If you can join a gym with a pool I would try that combined with acupuncture, I think that is a much better combo than the conventional route of meds and PT.

One exercise I do, Lay down flat on your back, head on the floor, legs straight out Put a towel around your foot, keep your leg straight and holding the ends of the towel in your hands, pull your leg as far back as you can and hold it there a few seconds. I get pain down only one leg but do both legs. I do that about 10 times. It does seem to help a bit. When its hurting bad, it isn't easy to do. Also curls can be helpful.

Also if you have ibuprofen that can help take the edge off. Remember the non prescription ibuprofens are 200mg and 1 prescription Motrin (which is the same med) is 800 mg., so when I get it bad I will take 4 of the ibuprofens as it represents 1 Motrin. I've heard that alternating heat and ice packs can help too. Good luck, do try the non conventional route the other way its just a myriad of continuing meds and wasted doc visits, imo at least. I've just not been able to do that myself as yet due to my situation.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Central Virginia
834 posts, read 1,941,497 times
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I should add that my advice was more about prevention rather than the cure. Once it happens, pain meds are your best friends.

I had such bad pain I read up on prevention and found that working and stretching the back was the best way. It may not work 100% for some people but it's better than nothing. It worked 100% for me because those years at the gym I felt no pain. It wasn't until I took a 2 month break from the gym that the pain started again.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:19 AM
 
Location: In the Zombie Room
1,603 posts, read 2,680,659 times
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I had a very similar problem for several years due to a trauma to the back which resulted in a herniated disk. An MRI is your friend as it will help determine the best course of treatment.

I tried everything - prednisone, pain killers, chiropractic care (actually made it worse), physical therapy and accupuncture. Nothing worked or it would provide a few days of relief and then the pain would return.

Finally I went to a spine specialist and he actually injected the disk with a steroid and gave me an epidural (for the immediate relief). It's been 5 years and I live pain free. I'm healthy, active and can do pretty much anything physically I want. Physical therapy is a great tool as it will give you good information about body mechanics and making sure you're doing things the right way. PT actually helped me too with my work outs - I realized that there were a few things I was doing in my workouts that could cause more harm down the road. A good PT is worth his/her weight in gold

Occasionally I will start getting a "twinge" of pain and I take 4 Advil and within a 15 minutes or so the "twinge" has gone and I'm back to perfect.

I don't know what will "prevent" it from coming on especially if you have a herniated disk. It requires treatment under the care of a knowledgeable physician.
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