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do pain meds dull sciatic pain?

MaryRayMMaryRay Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi, I have been suffering with sciatica since late in my first pregancy thirty years ago. I have very little back pain, but constant sciatic pain that overwhelms me and has for many, many years. My doctor and I both believe I ruptured a disc while pregnant, and though it healed, it damaged my sciatic nerve. I mean when I exhale it shoots straight down to my knee. That's on top of the constant hip to foot pain. Last time I saw my doctor, I told him we needed to come up with a plan because I've reached my limit, and if this is what I'm left with, then I was in big trouble. I have had steroid injections, but had no relief. I'm on a high dose of gabapentin and Neurontin, and that allows me a good night's sleep, but I am tired of being cranky when I get home at night. I am tired of my constant moaning. I want to function. I want to be able to go to the grocery store and not worry that I've walked too much, and knowing what the evening's outcome will be for my big time at the grocery store. I have left my church because there are too many stairs. I will be having a nerve stimulator implanted after carpal tunnel surgery. That was discovered at my last appt where I found my voice. I mentioned my fingers go numb, and after a nerve conduction and EMG, I was diagnosed with severe carpal tunnel syndrome. I tried getting the implant first, but my doctor said the surgery had to come first before my arm and hand turned into more chronic pain like my leg. Well, I scheduled that surgery for the first Monday in March.
So, now that y'all have read my story, do you thing it's possible to control some of my pain with meds? I have been told that pain meds block pain from the muscle, but it doesn't help nerve pain? Please tell me that's wrong.


  • Pain medications can dull an individual's perception of pain, even if they don't specifically target the pain. So in essence they can help us better manage the pain by changing our perspective.

  • I took Cymbalta and it helped with sciatica for awhile but slowly weaned off it and can tolerate the sciatica now with icing and compression sometimes but the Cymbalta helped for a couple of years for me.

    I also take Oxycontin which helps as I was moaning in pain also and though it's not a nerve pain med it still helps dull the pain in my legs.

    I use a cane on the opposite side of the worst leg while walking and use a Rollater walker also sometimes and find it takes the pressure off the leg. I hope the Dr. will be able to help find a solution to the pain. I enrolled with a Specialty Pain Management Center at a hospital well known after already been to 3 pain clinics which didn't help me. Keep looking for a Dr. to help you. Take care. 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
  • find that my pain meds are particularly effective for the sciatica or radiculopathy, or neuropathy pains. Have they done an MRI with contrast or any sort of scan to see if you have disc or scar tissue pressing on your nerves? Perhaps if they could remove that and free up some space around your nerve it would help with the pain. The other thing I find effective is my TENS unit (electronic nerve or muscle stimulator). At any rate, I wish you the best and some pain relief.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • It seems like you need to see a specialist for your back. I didn't see anywhere that indicated an MRI or other test confirmed a disc issue. Though, have to believe maybe you had one if someone was doing injections.

    Anyhow, go see a specialist. Orthopedic spine doctor or neurosurgeon. Find out what's going on. There are exercises/stretches that when done properly and consistently can help reduce sciatic nerve pain. And, of course, if it's not constant, there are prescription anti-inflammatories that can really help with flare ups. I found over the years, while other doctors were giving out pain meds, mine were giving NSAIDs and I did quite well.

    Of course, if you really ruptured your disc and the nerve is compressed...there may be other options to get you some relief off that nerve.

    Good luck.
  • So you already had the scs trial then right? I assume you did if you are ready for having them implant it,

    My scs implant is also march 6th coming up soon,

    Yes meds dull the nerve pain to a point but if nerve increases as day goes on i have not had luck with controling it with meds,

    Good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Nothing helped my sciatic pain :(

    Finally after about 6 yrs something else happened in my back and it "died" off. Not sure what happened but when I did PT the pain started to return so I stopped PT for that reason. I told my Dr I refuse to go back to that type of pain again as it was driving me nuts.

    I no longer have much feeling in that leg so they think that a disk is pinching the s nerve off.

    Getting new MRI soon

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Oh Charry, I too took Cymbalta, but because it wasn't helping, and my co-pay was pretty high, I decided to stop taking it, but I wasn't smart enough to wean myself off. I stopped cold-turkey, and boy, could I tell. My children and co-workers were begging me to get back on it. I was a major "b". It's been about six weeks now, and I'm back to normal, but I'll never do that again. Thanks for replying to my post.
  • Thanks for replying to my post. I have had several MRIs, but all they saw was a little arthritis, and that was on the last one I had a few weeks ago. I have never had contrast. I asked my doctor about it, and he discouraged it. From what I've read, it seems a CAT scan w/ contrast is a good diagnostic tool, but what can I say. That makes sense about the pain meds because I remember when I had my last baby, and was on the pain pump, I commented to my husband that I couldn't tell I had just had a c-section, but my sciatica was still going strong. I just hope this nerve stimulator works. I dont' have my own TENS unit, but was put on it a lot at my chriropractor's appts. I liked it a lot, but unfortunately, the chriropractor didn't help my pain either. I've been through PT, acupuncture, the chriro, and nothing. Boo hoo.

  • Hey Alex, No, I haven't had the trial yet, but I see where you have, but it failed. Did it cause more pain than before, or was it a wash? If it causes more pain, then I'm up that proverbial creek without a paddle. I also read where you refuse to take Neurontin because of the side effects. What side effects? I have heard from people that there a side effects, but whenever I try to find them on the internet, I can't find any. I have been taking 3,000mg a day for almost five years. YIKES!
  • Thanks for responding. I've had three MRIs, and they were all fine, except the last one done a few weeks ago showed a little arthritis. And yes, I've seen a neurosurgeon. My brother-in-law is one. Isn't that a hoot? He's the one that sent me to the physiologist. There a times I want to cuss my brother-in-law like a dog, but if there's no disc issue, then there's no disc issue, I just don't get it. I take over-the-counter nsaids for my arthritis, but it doesn't help the sciatica. When I say it doesn't help; at least I don't think it does. I mean, I know if I don't take my gabapentin and Nortriptyline together, then I'm up all night for many nights lying in bed moaning and crying, and feeling very, very sorry for myself, but the pain is still unrelenting all day, every day. It is so confusing. There has to be an issue somewhere. Sorry if I sound whiney. It's just so nice to be able to talk to people who actually understand.
  • Hey, MS Humpty Dumpty, did you have a great fall? I was in PT for six months three times a week. Good thing I had good insurance, but it still cost me a fortune, with absolutely no change, until I got on some weight machine, straightening my knee with the weight on top. Big Mistake! The next day I woke up and I could barely walk, and my leg was so swollen. My doctor said it must have been a coincidence, and that my left leg (the bad one) must be my venous return. Hmmm. I wish my nerve would die. You would think after 30 yrs it would. I am so sorry for your problems. Only 49, and having so many bone issues. I feel guilty for even complaining.
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