Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

my sciatica experience to date

fe6137ffe6137 Posts: 10
I twisted my back about a month ago, and then experienced that crazy terrible sciatica pain down my leg and foot about a week later. Went to urgent care, got flexeral (muscle relaxer), ibuprofen, and vicodin. This helped some, in that it got rid of the strongest pain. However, a week later, my leg and foot was still numb. And, after experimenting around a bit, figured out that the flexeral made me very emotional (sad, depressed). So, went to my doctor (who is also the county coroner- so his specialty is pronouncing people dead :)), and he gave me prednisone. 40mg's day 1-4, 30 mg, day 5. I only made it to day 5- had a terrible reaction to the prednisone, where I felt anxious, depressed, etc., and had to stop taking it immediately.

So, I went in for an MRI on Wednesday for lumbar. That was not a great experience- it was a high-field open MRI, and somehow I managed to stay still, but I don't want to do that again without sedation. Anyway, just got the results, which are l5-s1 13mm axial disc protrusion/extrusion. I couldn't figure out from the description which nerve it is pressing against, assume s1.

So, interestingly, my pain has lessened, but not gone. I'm only taking aleve. Foot still stays partially numb, and calf still feels like there is a band running down it.

Going to dr. on monday to find out what he recommends. I suppose he's going to say surgery, but I'm wondering the following:

1. Since it seems to get a little better, should I just do nothing differently?
2. Should I ask for PT first?
3. Since I had such a bad reaction to the prednisone, I'm kind of afraid to get a cortisone shot, if that was an option. Anyone who had a bad reaction to prednisone successfully get a cortisone shot?
4. How long is my mri good for? If I try and wait this out but it doesn't go away or gets worse, I don't want to have to get another MRI.

Thanks for listening, and any and all feedback is welcome.

I can say without hesitation, this experience has made me very humble and I feel for all of you out there going through back/sciatica troubles. I am thinking of you, and we will get through this!!!!



  • Short update- went to MD today, and he is recommending me to a neurosurgeon. I'm still hoping that surgery will not be necessary..

    Did get a couple of general answers to my questions. On the question of how long an MRI is good for, it seems 3 months is the standard answer, though it can be as much as 6 months.

    MD did not think that PT or steroid shots are options for me. The reasoning on the PT is that in his experience it either "really helps" the person or "really hurts" the person. Since I'm not in intense pain, why take the risk, I guess.

    He didn't give me any reasoning on why no steroid shot.

    Overall, he was pretty pessimistic about the ability for my herniated disc to heal by itself, and gave me the scare tactic of "you could sneeze on any day and have the same pain again". That's pretty much why I agreed to see the neurosurgeon, though every thing I've read says that 90% of herniated discs heal themselves...
  • Yes it can heal on its own so not worth doing anything extreme, If pain is not real bad i would just take it easy,

    Dont hurt to see neuro but without giving it a chance to heal even if dr offered up surgery i would not have it this soon without alternative treatment 1 st,

    Surgery can cause far more complicarions for some so its a risk too high to take and not wait in my opinion,

    I was told mri is good for 1 year, especialy if person has not had surgery yet, Usualy there wont be much of a change on mri who had no previous surgery unless they fell out a 3 story building or got hit by a buss,

    After a fusion more often mri might be needed because they know changes were made in the spine and more stress on other levels that sometimes cause other issues,

    Best of luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thanks for the comment Alex, it's really helpful and makes a lot of sense to me.

    If you or others have any words of wisdom on how to figure out if a neurosurgeon is good, that would be helpful.

    Best of luck to you as well.
  • Hi, I've been dealing with sciatica for nearly a year. MRI showed disc extrusion (basically a bulging disc) at S1. Daily pain medication includes Ibuprofen and Tramadol, I use Oxycodone for extreme 9 out of 10 pain at night. I am using Neurontin but hate the side effects, including muscle twitching, mental fogginess and weight gain. I have an appointment with our Spine Clinic next week to figure out my options.
    Dealing with pain 24/7 for the rest of my life (I'm 55) is not an option. I've been reading about Microdiscectomy, so, that might be my next step.
    I was told 9 months ago that this would get better in 9-12 months (this started July 2011), so far, it's gotten worse. I've had 2 steroid injections, without side-effects.
    Sorry about your reaction to the prednisone - not sure if there would be a correlation between the prednisone reaction and the steroid injection as the injection would be around your disc. I was terrified of anyone injection anything into my epidural space (Never had spinal or epidural for labor and childbirth), now I'm talking surgery.
    Not sure about how to tell about the neurosurgeon, but there are sites on-line to give information about physicians. Find out where he/she trained, how many surgeries they've done, how many procedures like this the hospital does per year. How much time does the neurosurgeon spend with you? does he/she encourage and answer your questions fully? Do you feel comfortable, or rushed?
    I hope this helps you dealing with this horrible condition. There are times I've said just cut off my leg - But I'm glad my sister found this forum for me.
    Take Care.
  • Thanks for the post mnrn56. Those seems like great questions to ask a neurosurgeon.

    I've been looking at microdiscectomy info as well, and it does seem like it is "the best option for back surgery". Do you follow NBA basketball? Dwight Howard, who is the star player for the Orlando Magic, herniated a disk this last week and underwent a microdiscectomy, I belive at l5-s1 (though not positive on that). For some reason, this makes me feel better about the whole thing.

  • Hi John,
    Thank you for the information - I'll have to look at the info about Dwight Howard - you're right, it does make me feel better too, especially if he plays Pro-Ball again.
    How long have you been dealing with your sciatica? - this is 9 months for me, but it's really been horrible since December. I would go to work in tears because it hurt so much to ride in a car - and my commute is only 4 1/2 miles!
    Since I work in healthcare, my co-workers finally insisted I get a pain clinic consult - I was injected the next day on 1/6/2012
    Second injection on 3/30, some relief - but not for long, Horrible, horrible pain at night.
    I'll let you know what happens after my appointment next week.
    Thanks for the support. I love this site.
  • It's been 5 weeks of sciatica for me. I actually started keeping a journal. Really just a scrap of paper with dates and events on it. I started doing this because I couldn't keep things straight, especially when I had such an adverse reaction to Prednisone. In fact, that is still effecting me, 2 weeks after I got off of it (I know it's 2 weeks because I just looked at the scrap of paper:)). The anxiety side effects of Prednisone are much worse than my pain.

    You are a true trooper to withstand the pain for 9 months. I really encourage you to put yourself first going forward. I'm trying that now, especially when I think of all the work stuff I 'm neglecting. I keep telling myself that Ive put in a lot of extra effort the last several years at work, and now I deserve to take the time and effort to get this sciatica issue solved correctly.

  • Thanks John,
    mostly i want to get my life back. I've gained weight from the Neurontin (not a nice drug, but if i miss a dose i'm in horrible pain several hours later)
    I can't go to see a movie, i haven't traveled outside of my city since January, can't enjoy a glass of wine (because of the meds)
    i get mood swings from the Neurontin as well as muscles ticks/twitches.
    My son was on prednisone recently to treat shingles - he had problems with side effects also.
    I am going to have to advocate for myself next week - not sure what the correct solution is for me - but i know this cannot continue.
    Good luck to you with your treatment as well - good idea to keep a journal, kind of wish i had now.
    Are you keeping track of you pain level too?
    Please keep in touch - i'll let you know what happens moving forward.
    Take care,
  • I also have a L5 disc protrusion. I have had it for almost 2 years. I have had 4 injections and they really worked for me but for a short time. It took almost all of the pain and burning away until it slowly wears off. Some have lasted longer than others. My last one was Feburay 28th and wore off by April 9th. I also had no side effects with the injection and get them every 3 months but due to insurance I need to get this fixed now. I'm thinking surgery but I'm scared and mine would be an open discectomy instead of the micro. I haven't heard anything good about the surgery yet. I also am only taking motrin.
  • Hi, thanks for joining the conversation.
    Glad to hear the injections are working for you. I've had 2 - the last one March 30 and it doesn't seem to be working that well.
    I get bad pain at night at bedtime and then I'm stiff in the morning from sleeping in one position all night I can barely move. This morning, my husband had to help me in and out of the shower so i didn't fall.
    If I were only on Ibuprofen, I think this would be tolerable - however, you can't take Ibuprofen daily, multiple times daily, for the rest of your life. I'm scared about surgery too - never thought I would get to the point of talking seriously about it. However, this is the worst pain i've ever experienced - far worse than childbirth (no epidurals here)
    I've had a friend tell me sciatic pain was worse than the bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy she had for breast cancer.
    I have an appointment next week and will report what happens.
  • No surprise here, but I too fear potential surgery. It's not the actual process itself, it's more of the "what if it doesn't work or causes more problems". Avoiding a downard spiral post surgery is the real fear for me.

    But, the really good news is that, sure, you do hear of people experiencing that downward spiral post surgery. But, the vast majority of people don't go through that- they do get better. I know personally two people who have had back surgeries, and they are doing great- have been back to normal for years.
  • You're right, I'm also scared that it won't work - that i'll wake up with more pain than I have now - although at times it's hard to imagine worse pain.
    I have heard and talked with people who have had successful surgery - and are leading quality lives again
    Seriously, it's ridiculous that I can't sit on our couch or love seat, or go to a movie, can only sleep on one side.
    Let me know what you're thinking - maybe we'll go through this together and be able to report that our pain is gone.
  • Completely agree, we'll make it through this whole thing fine. My next stop and your next stop sound the same- meeting with a neurosurgeon to discuss options. I'm just waiting for my appointment to get set up. We can definitely battle this together, and with any others out there that want to join.

    :) :)
  • I am also scared that surgery won't work or I end up worse. I am also scared of the pain of the surgery. I called for appt. for my neuroseurgeon because I think it's time for surgery and I can't get in till July 5th. I saw my neuro in Feburary and he told me he would do surgery only because I have had it for so long and as long as the injections keep working, keep getting them and let him know when I am ready for surgery. My leg and even other leg seems to have gotten a "weak" feeling the past few days and my foot is getting numer.I am scheduled for another injection on May 29th. I have two kids and I had the epidural injections with both and because of that I think child birth wasn't so bad.
  • :) Hi kit,
    I think when your leg gets 'weak' that is an indicator for surgery.
    Now, last night and today pain isn't so bad (hope i'm not jinxing myself)
    I'm trying to keep a diary of my pain and other signs/symptoms for when i see the doc next week.
    I was of the generation where we didn't want any interventions for labor/birth. I had forceps with my first son with no epidural and compared to this, it was a walk in the park.
    It's frustrating that we have to wait so long to see the physicians. My family med. doc ordered the consult 2 weeks ago and I could have taken the appt. next week or wait til July (like you). But, I have the advantage that I work at a major medical center in MN where all specialties are available in case of an emergency.
    I'm just not sure what to do a midnight when I have pain so bad I can't walk and I'm taking oxycodone for relief - and they can only prescribe so much of that at a time.
    When did your sciatica start? You may have said, but, sorry, I don't remember.
    We're here for each other :)
  • Hi mnrn56,

    My pain started in August 2010 and got bad in January 2011 but when I say bad it's not bad like everybody else has. I only take motrin for it. It hurts when I go for a walk but if I'm walking in the store where it's stop and go, I'm fine. At night if I don't take my motrin, my leg will ace really bad until I take the motrin then I am able to fall asleep. I have Ultram but when I take it, I don't think it really helps and it makes me so tired but then I still couldn't sleep because I have so much on my mind. I tried Neurontin but I only took two doses because I couldn't function or wake up and that was only 100 mg but maybe I should have tried it longer but I have to drive my 7 and 10 year old to school.

    I have heard of a few good stories about the surgery so that makes me feel a little better and hopeful. I just hope that I didn't wait to long. I have an appt on May 17th with a doctor in the spine center and I'm hoping that maybe she will be able to get me into the neuro sooner.
  • Hi Kit,
    With the Neurontin, you do have to give it time to work through the side effects and it can work. When I get close to the time for my next dose, I get a little 'woozy'.
    Unfortunately, I'm on the maximum dose right now. If I miss a dose, I'm in trouble. the pain comes back with a vengance.
    I'm mixed on the Ultram too, but if the pain is really bad, I use it with the Ibuprofen.
    I usually take 800 mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours, which is more than you're supposed to take. I've tried using 1000 mg at night (saw that someone in one of the forums was using that much and thought I'd try since that seems to work the best).
    Let me know what happens with your appointment - mine is on May 9th
  • I just cant' win! My upper back in the last week has started a little burning sensation and when I sleep my arms get a little tingly but I thought it was the way I was laying on my side since it is the only position I can sleep. Last night I must have twisted wrong and I felt a something weird in my mid back but not pain so I paniced and instantly got a full body sweat. Now this morning my upper back is burning and my left arm is feeling weird like tired and tingly to my finger tips. Not sure what to do.
  • Kit- really sorry about your upper back/arm. I think you should try and insist on an earlier appointment with the dr at the spine clinic. Not great advice, I know, but these are the people who can most help you.

  • I went to the ER due to my family doctor telling me to go their just in case of heart problems. The doctor gave me prednisone for 5 days and thought it would hold me over till the 17th when I see the spine doctor. My upper spine has a burning sensation. I hope it is shorted lived. I wonder if I could have pulled or strained a muscle up there. It's kind of taking my mind off my leg but leaving me more depressed and another worry in my life. I truly do not understand how people can deal with this everyday for years.
  • Hi Kit, sorry to hear you're having additional problems. It was likely a good decision to go to the ER given the tingling sensation in your left arm going all the way down to your fingers.
    I do hope you get some relief soon on all accounts.
    I'm holding my breath as my pain has been somewhat in control - I've cut down on the Ultram, still on the highest dose of Neurontin and using Ibuprofen 800mg every 6 hours or so.
    I agree with you - the pain is the worst pain I've ever experienced. The scary thing is, if you do have pain relief you just keep holding your breath waiting for the pain to return, because that's all you know - it's become your new normal - which is not acceptable.
    Hope you're feeling better this evening
Sign In or Register to comment.