Sciatica relief/cure over time?

I’ve been here a few days and noticed how much the mods love to move threads, but I think this is the right place for this.

During the holidays, I was moving some furniture and felt a twinge in my back and was sore for the next few days. So far, nothing new. But I started developing sciatic pain, with its telltale symptoms. I wound up in bed for a week, and felt better, except when going out for New Year’s Eve, my right leg ceased to function and I crashed to the ground. I literally dragged myself to my car, somehow drove to the emergency room, and was admitted. A CAT scan showed that I had a herniated disc (L4-L5). After three+ weeks in the hospital and rehab, I was released.

I’m still in a fair amount of pain, and it varies widely from time to time. Also, my leg is often very sore, though it’s in specific muscles, not a radiating pain like sciatica. I generally have to take enough medication to stun a moose to be able to work.

They told me that sciatica either needs surgical intervention or gets better in 6-12 weeks. As it is getting better, i.e., I can walk, albeit slowly, and I’m in pain, not in agony, I hope that it is indeed healing. But none of my doctors can give me a definitive answer. I’m trying to predict if I’ll be able to take a seasonal job starting in March or if I’ll still be popping Ibuprofen and working three hours a day at most by then.

I know that a lot of folks develop this condition. So I wanted to ask–if you or someone you know developed moderate to severe sciatica, did it eventually go away (obviously, if they had surgery to correct it, I don’t want them to be part of your answer), or did it become something they just had to learn to live with? (My mother had it for all the time I knew her, despite four surgeries, and she was miserable all the time, so I’m kind of scared.)

Also, if there are any medical professionals who’ve treated such patients, I’d like to know what your observations have been.

About twenty years ago I began to experience mild pain and mild to severe numbness in my right leg. The diagnosis was sciatica due to disc issues like you have. A few months after this started, I had an episode of muscle spasms in my lower back that incapacitated me for four days. When I was able to once again get around normally, I started swimming laps at the YMCA a couple of times a week. I would swim crawl and breast stroke, usually a half mile to a mile.

Because my leg symptoms weren’t constant or daily, I can’t pinpoint how many days or weeks of swimming changed things for me. What I can say is that I did this swimming regimen for about three months, and I have not had any leg pain or numbness in the twenty years since. I still have occasional muscle spasm attacks, much milder than the first one, but swimming for a few months seems to have eliminated the leg symptoms.

Good advice. Swim if you can. Your mother probably had pain all of her life because she had 4 surgeries, not despite. IANAMD, but I did work for SSA on disability claims and read many medical records. After surgery, many complained of continual pain or even worse pain due to scar tissue. I would give it time for the pain to ease with conservative measures. Surgery should be the absolute final attempt. It should be noted that many people have disc problems without any symptoms.

The symptoms you describe do not sound to me that they are due to the disc problem. Remember, IANAMD, but a herniated disc would produce pain radiating to the leg. Yours sounds like some sort of muscle or other neurological problem. I’ve never heard of a leg ceasing to function due to a disc problem. You’ve been to a hospital so you have had many tests which, presumably, would have ruled out another problem. One of the medical doctors will soon report in, but that is my non-professional opinion.

I had a compound fracture of tib and fib which required a pin to secure the bone. Once I was back on my feet, I developed sciatica in the other leg. It was more painful than the original break.

I went to see a physiotherapist who did some manipulation which helped, and he gave me some gentle exercises (mostly standing with my back to a wall and bending my knees to lower myself). It took a few weeks but it did get better.

Are you seeing a physical therapist? That’s what I would do. Actually, that is what I did do. I ended up having surgery, but it was a last resort.

I herniated the lowest disc several years back, took over a year to recover no surgery. For me, the generic back stretches doc gave me and steriod epidural didn’t help and i wasn’t making progress after 4-5 months.
What did heal me was a ombination of steady iburofen to keep inflammation down, and keeping my hamstrings loose. I’d sit a small upside down wastebasket under my desk at work and lightly stretch them all day. Seemed to take the stress and load off my lower back much better than the given back stretches, let me heal over 6-8 months until i was working it hard as ever. Ymmv of course.

Medical advice, as well as requests for personal experiences, go in IMHO

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