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Debilitating Sciatica

Hey everyone,

I have been in pain for approximately 6 months. It started with a little pain in the butt (haha) and it would go away after I got up and got moving. Though the pain started to get more severe in the morning it would always go away. Well, about 3 months ago the pain stopped going away. I saw my doctor, got some x-rays and was given some pills for the pain but nothing was helping. The doctor then ordered an ECG but I got to the point where I couldn't wait anymore. I went to the ER one day. They ran a CT scan and diagnosed the herniated disc which was pressing against my sciatic nerve. I went back to my GP and was told that I should see a specialist and started me on a steroid and anti-inflammatory. Meanwhile, I was really struggling at work. I am an elementary teacher and I am unable to get up and move around the room like I used to. My students are wonderful, understanding and helpful but I feel like I'm letting them down. I finally get into the specialist and he confirms weakness in my right leg and recommends and epidural injection as well as starting me on Gabapentin. This wonderful doctor squeezed me into his schedule a week later for the injection. (I really feel like he fit me in, this was not sarcasm). He told me the medicine should begin to work in 3-5 days. It is now 10 days later and I have no relief. I cannot walk from one end of the school to the other without being in severe pain. It was said it might take 2 weeks for it to kick in, but I am losing hope. When researching my problem I can across the Microdiscectomy and this forum. I have a follow-up appointment in a couple weeks. I will be talking to my doctor about it.

I guess, what I'm looking for, is people who have been where I am. This pain is affecting my life and has only gotten worse in the last 3 months. Did your pain go away on its own, did you have surgery, etc. I really don't know anybody that has been in the pain that I am so the unknown is killing me.

Summary: Herniated disc in L4/L5 and severe sciatic nerve pain in my right leg. Currently taking Gabapentin and Tramadol as needed.

Thanks for any advice or sharing your story.



  • Sciatica is usually self limiting, meaning that as suddenly as it came on, it disappears, as you have experienced before. Are you sure that the disc is herniated? Or do you mean bulge? There is a difference in the two diagnosis' and the treatment options can be different.
    I am including a few links that might help you to understand the process. The decision about surgery or not is based on your symptoms, as well as the examination and findings of your surgeon.......just remember, that recovery post op is not a cure all, meaning that you will need to make some adjustments to how you do things if you do go down the surgical route.


    Chronic Pain Treatment

  • i too am a teacher, high school special ed, rsp. i have been teaching for 25 years and 13 of those with chronic pain and 4 fusions. i had my doctor write a list of dos and don't s and i gave them to HR. all of the administrators have the list and know what i can and can not do, albeit to their shagrin. my job has not been the same since my surgeries but i don't care. the administrators do not like this but, oh well that is their problem. anyway for me it is walking that is the issue. the district also brought me an orthopedic chair which also ticked off my admin due to the cost. i would advise that you get a list of accommodations and give it to HR and the union. I have a person in HR who is in charge of my accommodations and any issues i contact her. i would probably prepare myself for static from your admn but with the union's backing, they cannot do anything. i have had to endure bad evaluations and teacher criticisms but i am still teaching except when i retire this year. one teacher spread a rumor that i had my last fusion so i would not have to be evaluated. i told HR and the had a talk to jesus talk with the teacher and the admin. i have not had any problems since.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 04/06/2014 - 1:26 PM
    Hello Trent,

    I had debilitating sciatica with my pregnancies and then was hit with it again in August 2013 and it was terrible. I found relief with my fusion and decompression. I was 1.5 inches taller after the operation so my nerves were very angry. I believe that in most cases, sciatica is often relieved best by a discectomy or decompression. Talk to your doc and make sure he/she tells you the expected outcome in your unique situation.

    You also have a very hands on, physical job and that makes your situation tougher. Don't feel guilty about being in pain. I'm sure you're hard enough on yourself already. Hope you find some relief.
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • You get more bees with honey, though, and unless you're pretty established and secure in your job, or ready to retire, I might suggest a more diplomatic way of negotiating accommodations from the powers that be. Just a thought.
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • we have something called catastrophic leave in my district where we donate one day of sickleave to bank where as we need time off for surgeries we can go to the union and file for a leave. we have to use all of our sick leave first then if it is voted yes, we can take time off and get all of our salary that we normally get. you don't have to go out on disability. like i said go to your doctor and get a list of accommodations and have it on file with HR, my chair was ordered by an independent person who was hired by HR to come in an evaluate me. afterwards, she said the district had to buy me a chair. maybe one of your accommodations would be that you did not have to stand for periods of time and you could sit as needed. discuss your needs with your doctor and have him write a note to give to HR. this is the procedure in my district but i don't know about your union and HR. you will probably have to contact HR and ask what is the procedure for your condition. you should have something on file so you can do what is needed to be able to teach effectively. by the way my district knows about my meds and i got a letter from my pain ddr stating that they don't affect my teaching or my interation with the students. also ask your union what is the procedure but you need the note from your doctor with a list of accommodations from him.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Shiloh67SShiloh67 Posts: 3
    edited 04/06/2014 - 3:07 PM
    My administrator has been great so far. I have never been one to take days off so I have a nice bank set up if I had to be off.

    The bright side is I have an appointment tomorrow and I am going to talk to him about a Discectomy as well as what I could be doing to make myself better. I will let you know!! Thanks for the advice.

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