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Sciatica worse in the morning

smithiossmithio Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:54 AM in Lower Back Pain
Can anyone tell me why my sciatica is worse in the morning. I have been diagnosed (MRI) with a herniated disk. I'm in agony driving to work in the morning and dread getting out of bed. As the day goes on it gets better until I can't feel it at all, unless I spend a lot of time sitting. This pain has been going on for about 4 months now.


  • Yes my sciatica is worse in the morning and if I get up out of bed right away it's worse than if I wait about 15 minutes or so for my body to adjust after sleeping and move my affected leg in circles and do some minor stretching before I get up or I may fall over.

    Probably being in one place all night and compressing that nerve, sometimes I have my big exercise ball in bed and lay with my feet on the ball or with my legs elevated relieves it but you'll have to get up 15 minutes earlier to try that and get up slowly by log rolling and gently lift yourself up from the arm underneath you instead of pulling yourself up with your back and even standing from a sitting position support your back by pushing up with your arms to take the pressure off your back all the time.

    I find it helps to sleep with a pillow between the legs and have less sciatica pain and numbness through the day. But meds help and not sitting too long and getting up and walking around almost every hour helps.

    Are you taking any nerve pain meds like Amitriptyline, Lyrica or Cymbalta yet? Or any anti-inflammatories? I take Cymbalta and taking my time getting up really helps.

    Just thought I'd welcome you but look at that I wrote a book! Take care and we're here to support you and keep us posted how you're doing. 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
  • I've been taking Amitriptyline for a few weeks now but can't notice any difference. I'm alergic to ibroprophene. I'll try the 'getting up slowly' technique in the morning.
    I'm trying to find a pattern as on the days I have a lot of back pain(mainly due to having to sit down ), my sciatica isn't quite as bad the following day.

    I got quite drunk the other day and the next morning I woke up without any pain. Someone at work mentioned that it was because my disc was dehydrated and due to it being smaller wasn't pushing on the nerve. I'm almost tempted to get drunk again to try it ;-)
  • Sorry to hear you're experiencing pain. I have a herniated disc L5-S1 and my pain is always worse in the morning. It might have been pre ESIs but I know for sure it got worse after I got the injections.

    I find if I get up early it helps to stand up, stretch a bit, walk around then take a hot shower. Our shower has 3 extra faucet heads about waist level,, like jets that I turn on to sort of massage the area (back and hip). Then if the this usually relaxes my back. However heat doesn't always help and if I find it not helping after about 7-10 min I get out. Always after a hot shower I wait a bit for the blood to flow in the back then grab some Biofreeze (like Icyhot but w. Menthol) and then get an ice pack wrap n a towel and apply.

    U suallyi have to ice different spots on my back and hip, and also right where the disc is, for me slightly above my right buttock, but I always place the pack slightly higher then where my pain begins.
  • have you tried a good TENS unit ? and what if any surgey have you had ? the pain from that nerve is very hard to treat normal narcotics dont work as well .as they do on mechanical back pain .there are some drugs that are use for treating nerve pain but they tend to have horrible side effects {some serious} so i would avoid them if offered .a hot shower and then a freeze spray may help {but if you are using A TENS make sure that you clean your back and remove any cream /spray as the electrodes wont stick .and good electrodes cot about 10 pounds for 4 .you should see your doctor for investigation but meanwhile try sleeping with a good pillow in between your knees and lay on your side with your knees slightly bent only sleep with one pillow for your neck so your body is kept a straight as possible .if you want to make life as comfy as possible a good quality recliner and a good bed are a must for back pain .many of us on here have electrical recliners as you can get in to a comfy position unlike a normal chair or settee .if you want any advice all the regulars will offer it willingly
    don't be afraid to ask we are a good bunch with a fantastic amount of knowledge between us
    tony {uk}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Yes my pain in general is worse first thing in the morning. I keep my medication and water beside my bed and take it as soon as I wake up. Stretching helps too but I find I have to be awake for 15-30 minutes before I can even do that. Hope you find something that works for you.
  • My sciatica is worse in the AM, depending on which bed I sleep in. If you have other beds in the home, try another one and see if it helps. Or maybe a family member's guest room. I also used a bed board when I had a saggy bed, and it helped. For me, the harder the bed, the better. My weight distribution is bad for cushy beds and I always awaken in pain when I sleep in them.

    Hope you find a good solution! :)))
  • YardsusaYYardsusa Posts: 4
    edited 07/26/2013 - 6:55 AM
    My sciatica (L5-S1 herniation with pain in my left buttock, running down the side of my leg all the way down to my foot) is always worse in the morning. I stretch softly in bed, walk to freezer and grab an ice pack and sit in my recliner for 20 mins or so. I drink as much water as I can first thing out of bed figuring I am probably slightly dehydrated. If I am not feeling slightly better after 30 minutes, I then try a hot shower and then meds. I had an epidural injection a week ago that helped the pain slightly. My pain was excruciating the night before the injection so I went to the ER where the gave me morophine on an IV. That took my pain from an off-the-charts 11 or 12 / unable to stand or sit at all to a 3 or 4 which for me is I can walk for 50,steps and then rest either in a recliner or on a bed with a wedge under my knees. Post the injection my pain was a bit better until last night when it kept me up half the night. Try ice, water and a zero gravity recliner. It helps. It never takes the pain away but it certainly gets it manageable in the morning, at least for me.
  • Dan BarnettDDan Barnett Posts: 2
    edited 10/14/2013 - 10:47 AM
    I've been dealing with Sciatica issues for over a year now. I had surgery and injections and my pain has dramatically subsided.. until recently. It seems to be returning in my foot. When I wake up, for about an hour or two. It doesn't start right away. It takes about 30 mins after I wake up for the pain to start. It is localized to my foot now (which is a relief) considering I had from my butt down through my calf before. I think it hurts in the morning now for a couple of reasons. First of all, seasons changing has an affect for some reason. Last October was impossible and this year seems to be affecting me as well (not nearly as much as last year). I think the pressure change or just the temperature itself has a profound affect on discs or nerves or both. Anyway, I don't have insurance now so I can't really get another injection. Guess I'll just wait it out.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,269
    edited 08/27/2016 - 6:57 AM
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  • Hi,ive been suffering for years now with mainly right sided sciatica.It is always worse in the mornings I also think if its cold & damp it plays up more & ive noticed a pattern that every winter my sciatica flairs up.The last really bad bout was 12wks of pure HELL I could not sit,stand,move & it was so bad I considered suicide because I could not put up with the pain anymore.My spinal consultant still wont discuss surgery even though the latest MRI shows the L5 disk is impinging the nerves down both legs hes only suggested a nerve block injection.One piece of advive I can give to anyone is hot water bottles on the lower back for a few hours that does seem to help to at least get a bit mobile & if u also suffer from muscle spasms my doc gave me some diazepham only a small dose of 2mg & that does help to relieve the pain the pain.
  • I have a ruptured disc L4/L5 with bad leg pain down the right side and into my foot. The pain is almost unbearable in the morning. As the initial poster stated, the pain will eventually subside almost to the point of not being able to feel it, as long as I'm up and moving. I often get out of the bed in the morning and force myself to go for a walk. I'm sure I look quite strange as i hobble down the street for the first 10 minutes or so, but eventually i get to the point where I can walk a bit normal and I tend to be fine for the rest of the day so long as I don't sit for longer than 10-15 minutes at a time. I'm not sure this will help any of you, but going from 'the worst pain i've ever felt', to 'I think I can manage this' over the course of about an hour is a win in my book.

    I've tried different sleeping positions, as prescribed by my PT, but I haven't had any luck.
  • My pt told me fluids cause your discs to swell slightly during the night (the reason they say we are taller when we first awake), this then causes more pressure on your nerve, also there is naturally more pressure on your spine in the horizontal position than vertical. Amitryptaline helped me through to about 3:30/4am then the only relief I got was by resting face down, and much like everyone else, improved throughout the day.

    I stopped using my car and took two trains to work, moved my keyboard to a shelf so I didn't sit, and Kay on a yoga Matt at home in the Sphinx position in front of the tv.

    The medication is listed as "avoid alcohol" I admit that a couple of beers helped, but of course would not advise.

    I also tried inversion therapy, which I really do believe helped, but you can base your own opinion using Google and you tube.

    I've just had a microdisectomy and so far, i feel gtreat.

    It's a long tough journey, but you have to come out fighting everyday, good family, friends help, in the end though it's all about the inner you and a will to win.

    Good luck, fight to win.
  • Same here, when I get up the pain is terrible can hardly move, after a couple of hours it starts to gradually ease off after walking and exercise. Its something that does not like to be slept on, but we cant move around 24.7 though either. Had mine 10 weeks so far, but I had it originally on the opposite side years ago and have suffered back pain for years. Its hard to deal with and the pain can bring you down mentally as well. Its a lonely pain as well unless you know others with it that understand the pain. I really hate this thing I got but am stuck with it. I guess it will ease in time but when. My mri results are not that good either with 3 discs gone now.
  • Ladywriter1968LLadywriter1968 LondonPosts: 11
    edited 06/30/2016 - 3:22 PM
    To add I have herniated discs at L2-3 and L4-5. plus a pinched nerve on at L5-S1. and dehydration as well of spine. I guess the worse time for all of us is going to bed as we know what we will get when we get up.
  • Ladywriter1968LLadywriter1968 LondonPosts: 11
    edited 06/30/2016 - 3:25 PM
    I have known people who had surgery and some were worse after it, and even my doctor said a lot of times it dont work. like hit and miss with back pain. They say we drop height also with back spinal problems, I am only 5.1 tall as it is now.
  • arabianhorseloveraarabianhorselover U.P. of MichiganPosts: 26
    My pain is also much worse in the morning.   Very hard to get out of bed.  All on the left side for me.  Much worse for the last three weeks for some reason.  Used to only go down into my thigh and not nearly as severe.  Now goes all the way to my foot and almost unbearable.  Not sure what made it worse.
  • Ellen625EEllen625 New Jersey, USPosts: 741
    Before surgery my sciatica was much worse in the morning. I would take some pain meds and wait for them to kick in before I got out of bed. Even then I would have to walk around the house for about 30 minutes before it calmed down to being bearable. 
  • acuetteraacuetter Plantation, Florida 33317Posts: 1

    I am a 76-year old neurologist  (retired for 6 months) at an academic center, who
    received referrals for clinical exams and EMG studies in patients with back pain and spinal stenosis that were worse in the morning. That is the hallmark of chronic lumbar spinal stenosis.
    The pain and cramps in lower back and posterior aspect of lower extremities in
    the morning due to stenosis of spinal canal is more frequent than what general
    physician general public realized. I myself have developed these symptoms in
    the last 7 months due to severe spinal canal stenosis at L3-L4 and L4-L5.  It is a crampy pain that interferes with the
    muscular contractions in the legs without a real muscular weakness. As I take 800
    mg of ibuprofen, use s heating pad, and began stretching exercises of all types* I begin to be able
    to walk erect, and to perform strong exercises. The pain starts decreasing in about two hours; and then I can go through the day
    performing all my chores. I mention the above because, as a physician, I always
    was concerned by the results of the misinterpretation of this medical problem
    by employers, other physicians and “detectives” of people on disability  who wrongly misconstrue the cyclic pain
    appearance, and believe that such person could  be able to work because they could perform at a  near  normal level at
    certain times of the day, and that perhaps they were exaggerating.

    In the morning I take Ibuprofen, 500 mg with 600 mg of
    gabapentin (dose of gabapentin has to be increased slowly; otherwise it will
    produce side effect). Instead, of ibuprofen I use sometimes a bunch of 81 mg of baby aspirins up to 567
    mg every 6 hours with food; and I pedal slowly on a stationary bike until I get slightly tired; and then repeat.

    (*)  Sustained stretching
    exercises including flexion of legs for > 5 minutes in fetal position is by
    far the best exercise that relieves the pain.

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