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My pain is very confusing

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
I know, I know, so is most everyone else's. But here goes...

A few months ago I fell hard on my lower back and glutes. I fell backward onto a metal bar from about 3 feet above it. I hit hard enough that I was paralyzed for a minute. Feeling came back to my limbs, went to urgent care and got dismissed with some muscle relaxers and ibuprofen.

I returned to normal activity 2 weeks later when most of the pain subsided. Normal activity for me is swimming, biking, running and weight lifting.

About 2 weeks after returning to running, I noticed amidst 1 daily run that my left calf was cramping up badly. I walked the rest of the way and took a few days off of running. A week later, I started to notice mild tingling in the left foot. A few days later I started getting strong pain in left glute and tingling in left foot. Sciatic, I know. I went through about 5-6 weeks of PT and made no progress. Condition slowly but steadily worsening.

3 months now after the fall, I can't stand sit or lie down without a lot of pain. I went in for an MRI and couldn't lie down on my back long enough to complete it. I have another attempt scheduled this week.

Here's my confusion: everything I've read about a disc herniation (which is what they think I have) indicates that you should do spinal extension exercises. Starting with lying in the prone position on your forearms and working your way up to pushing yourself up on your hands into a gentle back bend. The problem is, even lying on my front is complete agony. I have been trying this for 2 months now and it still just hurts like crazy in my left glute and sends tingling into my left foot.

When I go into MILD spinal flexion (so sitting in a chair or lying in fetal position), I get immediate relief. But the more time I spend like that, the worse the pain and tingling are when I stand up. Also, I can only sit on the edge of the chair. If there is any pressure on my left glute, it causes pain and tingling.

So if I can't do extension, and flexion allows temporary relief but more pain in the end, what the heck CAN I do? I can't seem to get an MD to understand just how hopeless and painful this situation is.

Could it be that the nerve irritation from the disc is causing the glute and calf pain? Or could it be that the glute/piriformis is squeezing the nerve and cause the problem? Both?

Any advice and experience is appreciated. Thanks.


  • Sciatica is confusing, at the time of the injury, did the meds prescribed help at all? Maybe some muscle relaxers and perhaps a stronger pain med can give you some relief, I would also ask if a trigger point injection could be used to offer you some relief. I alternated between ice and heat for my back before surgery, depended on what worked at the time. Also, since an MRI will really help on the diagnosis, see if you can go to where they can do a standing MRI, may be more tolerable for you. As far as what is causing the pain, I'm not an MD or RN, but I think either of the things you describe can cause the problem(s). Hope this helps, please keep us posted.
  • I would make sure you have enough pain meds and a muscle relaxer from your Dr. to do the MRI. Close your eyes and relax and make sure they put a pillow under your legs for the MRI. Think of breathing deeply in and out and hopefully your MRI will get done. try an ice pack or heat also before your MRI. I had my 2nd MRI a week and a half ago and it really was uncomfortable but not so unbearable with a sedative and the pain med. Good luck with your test. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • hi Charry, thanks for the reply. I'll try the ice pack on the glutes on the way in. The doc also prescribed me a 1 time valium dose. I know valium is not a pain med, but they said it will make me relaxed and unaware enough to not care.

    Oddly enough, the best pain killer for this seems to be alcohol. A glass of wine or two and the pain is completely bearable.
  • The sooner your doctor orders an MRI for you the better. You need to have a diagnosis so that you'll get the right treatment. Like Charry said, ice is really helpful and so is alternating with heat pads. Please be careful while you're on muscle relaxers and drinking a little wine. You don't want to have an interaction that will make you feel very sick. Anyway, I hope you get better soon. Take care
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