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A sneeze made my sciatic 10X worse!

MeeshaMMeesha Posts: 55
I thought my sciatica was starting to improve after 6 months, but my back pain had gotten worse, and I sneezed one day while sitting down - I should have stood up. Now I have it in both legs, and today I don't even know if I can go out. Anyone have this happen?
discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.


  • Welcome! While none of us are Doctors here, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge on these forums. Hopefully you will be able to find the support that you may need.

    Are you sure what you are feeling is siatica? It is very common for a disc to herniate when one cough's sneezes, laughs, reaches down to pick up the newpaper, etc.

    I noticed you said that you have had siatica for the past 6 months. Have you had an diagnostic testing done? MRI, CTscan, etc. Have you seen a doctor for your pain? are you on any medications for your pain? Does ice help? or are there certain positions that you are in that lessen the pain or make the pain worse?

    By letting us know a little bit more of your specifics, we can be able to offer more specific suggestions.

    Hang in there! I know that you are in a lot of pain! Shari
  • Thanks for your help. I've been to a surgeon about this, and just deciding right now whether I'm going to have surgery (microdiscectomy) or try something else like injections.
    Actually this morning it feels better, thank goodness - I thought I'd have to stay home from work. I'm only working part-time as it is. But it's still going to be hard today. The worst is my hip is sticking out to the side constantly now. It's so embarrassing.
    What do you do about back pain? I know several great exercises, but I'm very limited to what I can do now that I have sciatica, so my back pain remains.
    For me sitting for too long makes it worse, but even that had begun to get better last week. I'm taking some old pain pills I had, but no I don't usually take anything -too expensive.
    Maybe I'll try ice- no doctor/PT has suggested that yet, but another friend did. Does it help? THanks.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • What is your diagnosis? That will likely dictate which conservative methods might help.
  • Their diagnosis was a "fairly large disc herniation". From what I remember, it's the L5/S1. I have a lot more questions to ask the surgeon. I read a book about back surgery, and the risks, as well as researching on the internet. I took Lyrica too at the beginning, but it's so expensive! So I have some old Naprosin that I used the past 2 days. I'm glad I lost it and found it much later, now that I need it again!

    I've been to a physiotherapist who mostly just gave me Mckenzie exercises to do. So that's all I do and sometimes very slight back exercises that they gave me.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • I also have a fairly large L5/S1 herniated disc that is also fragmented and pressing on my nerve. I'm trying to let it heal naturally, but it's a tough road. I've tried almost everything - herbal supplements, over the counter meds, Rx meds, all kinds of exercise, chiropractor, ice, massage, kneel-sit chair, injection.

    For me, the only thing that is going to really work is time. My doc said no amount of PT is going to help my situation. I have to wait until the disc resorbs or calcifies and just see what happens next.

    I can’t tell if you’re saying back pain when you mean sciatica, or if you have both back pain and sciatica. I had both earlier on in my situation, but now I only have sciatica.

    I’m not making any recommendations here (only letting you know what helped me).

    This is what has helped my sciatica:
    - resting (on my back for over an hour)
    - ice (every few hours, especially when I have a flare up, ice and rest have worked the most)
    - avoiding sitting
    - walking and core strengthening and stretching (anything that doesn't aggravate my sciatica)
    - Lyrica (I've never paid a dime...my doc gives me samples)
    - Caudal ESI (today is one month and I'm still doing great)

    I would ask your doctor about an injection before surgery. Many people have to pursue surgery b/c they need their life back immediately. Fortunately I am able to wait it out.

    By the way, when I sneeze or cough, I suck in my gut! It’s worked for me so far.

    Good luck!
  • welcome.
    I agree on doing some research before jumping into surgery. I would also look into injections or oral steroid to see if it helps. A lot depends on your diagnosis but I'm like Kathryn and try to avoid surgery when possible. Especially back surgery because the back is what supports the body so the recovery isn't the same as having your appendix out.

    A few things that might help (helped me for 17 years until I herniated my L5S1 with annular tear.

    - rest (lie flat on bed or firm surface).
    - do not sit for long periods (get up every 30 mins walk, watch your posture)
    - ice in 10 min intervals
    - Ibuprofin (anti-inflammatory)
    - Short but frequent "light" walks on flat surface (even if you have to go back and forth on your drive way).
    - it sounds like you have some PT exercises. There was always one I used to relieve my back pain (I can't do it now) and another for the sciatic leg pain.
    - For the back, gwennie (another member) had a tip that I use now. Lie on the floor and put feet up over the couch...take deep breaths to relax and "unload" the disc.

    I hope this helps a bit.
  • Thanks for your help- I'll try those things you mentioned. I was really worried since yesterday and day before I had sciatica in both legs all day, but today the sciatica was back to just one leg .. whew! Good thing I took the day to rest yesterday. Day before I did household chores all day.

    Today I just had the list problem (walking with a list where my hip sticks out to the side) and back and hip pain. But I was able to go to work, and didn't have too much trouble. Wow, I don't want to have another day like yesterday!

    But I still don't know about surgery. My doctor said he won't operate if I leave it to a whole year. Scary.. after a year, surgery won't do any good? :( I gotta go back and read up again on injections.

    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • I'm very careful sneezing...especially after my revision microdiscectomy too.

    as long as I feel them coming on, I can 'half-sneeze' or brace myself into a position where I can keep my lower back 'controlled'.

    If I feel a cold coming on, I try to take vitaminC and get extra rest b/c I can't imagine having a coughing fit.

    It's crazy but one more word of advice...be very careful when you stretch upon waking...that's what did it for me. I was doing the morning yawn and stretch and pop.

    I hope you have a good day today
  • Thanks, I'll remember those tips for sneezing. I avoided a cold just recently by gargling with salt water twice a day. I get colds at least twice a year now, so I've found this helps to get rid of it.

    I always stretched my legs in the morning - now I can't just because of too much pain.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
  • I had sneezing and coughing episodes after the first microdiscectomy. The hard sneezing and coughing caused my disc to re-herniate.

    After the 2nd microD, I took precaution by take several meds to control my allergy symptoms.

    I was told to brace my back if a sneezing attack was coming on:meaning put my back against a wall or hold a pillow against my stomach.

    Since you haven't had any surgeries, I would do what previous posts suggested by using ice and any anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen.

    Good luck!
  • Wish I'd seen these tips earlier today before an explosive sneeze made my bad area feel like a grenade detonated in it. I'm still very flared. :(
  • I know what that's like - I'm still not very functional a week after that. I hope you will recover. I've found that if I push myself through the pain, it's horrible for that few minutes, and then I rest, but then when I go to sit down or walk again, it's somehow better.
    discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.
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