Hey everybody! I've been dealing with really painful sciatica for about 2 months and I would love to hear about similar situations and how they turned out. It would be great to hear some encouraging news. I have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow which I strongly suspect is going to reveal a disc herniation.
Here is my story:
I'm a 25 year old male in OK shape, and I started lifting weights a couple years ago. I'm sure I have terrible form. Never had any back problems prior, then in August 2013 I felt some tightness in my back after doing a set of squats that was relatively heavy for me. Woke up the next morning in excruciating pain. Couldn't get out of bed for days. The pain was only in my lower back, and when I made to the doctor they said it was probably just a low back strain. In a week or so I started to feel much better and in about two weeks I was back to normal (or about 95%). I continued to lift pretty much right away.
In December 2013, I was playing sports and felt tightness in my low back. It got bad really quickly, I was barely able to get myself home. Woke up the next morning and couldn't get out of bed. Felt exactly the same as when I hurt myself in August. Doctor said another low back strain. A few weeks rest and I felt a lot better.
February 2014 felt my back tighten up doing squats again. Not nearly as bad as the first two injuries. Doctor again said low back strain. They said I should rest, advice which I should have listened to.
End of February was lifting again. Felt my back tighten so I stopped. Over the course of the next week felt a little low back pain and numbness in my leg/calf/foot that would go away when I walked around. Then the first week of March I suddenly felt some really bad pain down my leg. I would rate it a 10/10 on the pain scale, at least for me.
Ever since then I have had almost no low back pain but really really bad sciatica in my left leg. For the first month I couldn't walk 50 feet before I had to stop and sit down. I basically stayed in my bed all day for a month. It was terrible. I was sore when I woke up and the only time I had a tolerable level of pain was when I was lying down. Sitting for a few minutes was painful, but standing/walking was the worst.
After the first 30 days, I moved into what I call "phase 2." This has been going on for about 30 days and is exactly where I am at right now. Walking still hurts but I can walk for longer distances than "phase 1" (for example, I can force myself to walk around a grocery store to buy a few things. I have a noticeable limp after the first few minutes of walking though, and I often have to "crouch" between aisles to gain strength to keep walking). Sitting still hurts but if I load up on ibuprofen I can make it for a few hours with only moderate pain (moderate pain meaning I can stay sitting down but can't concentrate on anything else but the pain for the most part). Without ibuprofen I can't stay seated for long at all. Lying down cause mild pain but it is tough to get up after extended rest. The first few steps after I get out of bed are the worst.
Probably the hardest thing about the last two months is the constant pain. I have pretty much become a shut in. Luckily I have a few people around me who encourage me. I start a new job in two months and I am terrified that I won't be able to perform all of my job requirements (or will need special assistance). This is my dream job but all new employees start off on probation
So, here are some questions I have for anyone who has gone through something similar:
Is it a good sign than some of my symptoms are improving? i.e. I can walk for longer distances now, can sit for longer, etc. Pain is also slightly decreased. I no longer have to make weird grunting noises whenever I shift around. I can also drive myself around the block but getting in and out of the car is tough.
Is the fact that I am still experiencing fairly constant pain after 2 months a sign that surgery is likely? Or is it too soon to tell?
What are some ways you guys deal with the pain? I currently can't afford to go to a PT which sucks, and the only medication I'm taking is ibuprofen. Something stronger I think would help but I have been able to make do with advil.
Anyway thanks for reading this long post. I will update my diagnosis when I get it (if anyone is interested).