Hey, all. I posted a few months ago about how I've been doing better, and I wanted to share some more good news so my post can offer some hope for everyone suffering from sciatica.
A brief history: I'm 38 and a fit, petite woman. I herniated my disc at L5-S1 about five years ago. After many months of trying various 'remedies' I ended up having a discectomy. I was GREAT after the surgery... zero pain. I resumed normal life. Two years later, wham! I reherniated the same disc. This time, the pain was even worse and I couldn't walk, sit, stand, or do much other than writhe in pain. After about 3 months I had the same discectomy. Again, I felt great after surgery. Another two years went by and -- you guessed it -- the same darn disc blew out again.
After three herniations, the surgeons all told me spinal fusion was the only surgical option.
I've stubbornly held off and it will be one year next week since that most recent herniation. After going through hell, I am happy to report I am nearly pain free! It wasn't easy and it didn't happen overnight, but I'm off all pain meds and am back working full time. I'm swimming and hiking again, and can sleep through the night without waking up in pain.
So just my own story to offer hope. Our bodies, and our discs, CAN HEAL!! If I had to do it all over again, I would have skipped all surgeries. I really think once you go down that road it's very hard to go back. These last few months my pain is caused by the scar tissue from surgeries more than the herniated disc.
A few things that helped me (sorry if this is repetative from my last post):
- Initially, the McKenzie Method saved my life (metaphorically). I was able to get out of the most acute pain. Doing my "press ups" got me from a 9/10 pain to about 4-5/10. I worked with a certified McKenzie PT.
- I didn't have any luck with most pain meds, and I tried a LOT of them including vicodin, percocet, and Lyrica. But Tramadol did actually help toward the last six months.
- Moderate exercise helped keep my brain from freaking out, and kept my spirits up. I also think it didn't hurt my healing. I would walk or slowly swim -- sometimes just a doggie paddle -- or go on hikes with my dog. Sometimes I just limped up the trail for a few minutes, but it was something.
- Initially, using a lumbar pillow was very helpful. I used it in the car, at the office, at restaurants, etc.
- Icing my back during the initial few months felt good. Putting 'icy hot' style rubs on the leg with the radiating pain also felt good.
- For the last five months, I was kind of stuck. I was feeling better during the day and could work all day. But as soon as I layed down at night I would get sore. I spent nearly all that time sleep deprived. THEN I was referred to a new PT by my pain management doctor. (If you are near Philly, I can give you his info.) He was also a McKenzie expert but was SO careful to ask all kinds of questions about my symptoms. He had me do a few bends, etc. After about an hour of all that he had a "picture" of exactly what was going on inside my body. I didn't belive it at first, but after ONE visit and a few minor adjustments to how I was sleeping (knees up and back curved instead of arched) and one simple exercise I could suddenly sleep all night!!! After the second visit last week, during which he again asked a million questions about my symptoms and then gave me one more simple exercise, I have almost NO PAIN. I haven't taken Tramadol in one week!!!!!!
So hang in there!!!