I just wanted to share my lower back and sciatic experience as I think it might help some of you. I’ll start by saying about 6 years ago I hurt my back loading boxes into a car. I felt something slip/strain but after about two days I was fine. Then 2 years ago I started getting lower back pain while studying and sitting at a desk a lot. Eventually my friends had to carry me out the car one day. I went to a chiropractor, he did his adjustments and gave me anti inflammatories. I iced my back and swam and was better in two weeks.
At the beginning of this year I was snowboarding and at the end of about a month I started to get a sore lower back. Not too painful so carried on as normal. On return from the holiday the pain worsened a bit so I went to a chiropractor and he determined that I had a herniated or bulging disc via a “slump test” that he did on me. So I went to a couple of physio sessions to become more flexible and strengthen my core. I would also gym once a day. The healing process seemed to be doing fine but certain things would set me back like chopping down a tree, (or wrestling drunk with a friend). Very irresponsible I know. This coupled with drinking on the weekends. My back pain started to get worse and eventually my body seemed to tell me “enough is enough” and after a binge and sleeping on a couch upon waking up I got a spam in my right glute.
Following the spasm my leg started twitching avidly, my leg began to feel pain and burning, my calf tensed up and parts of my leg (including my two right toes) went numb.
Talk about a rudawakening. I could barely walk 5 mins before having to lie down in a specific position that gave me relief. I went onto pain killers and anti inflammatories for about a week after which I would try and bare the pain. The twitching stopped and the pain seemed to dim but still numb. I seemed to be making progress after about 1.5 weeks and went for a physio session. A week after the physio (while doing recommended exercises) I was flaring up and was in too much pain to go back again.
I had tried a lot of things like physio, chiro, stretching, and core exercises and wasn’t getting anywhere. I had researched this site and many others extensively until eventually I found something that I had not tried yet. The “Wait and see” method. After about a week trying this I noticed slight improvement. After about a month I could walk with a bit of limp and swim again and intermittent pain. After about 1.5 months I can walk fine, almost pain free and am doing core exercises again. There is still a bit of numbness in my leg and toes but seems to be dissipating.
Things that I made note of in this experience were:
-Keep a log of your condition. You can notice a pattern of what works for you and what not. I noticed that stretching (Especially the hammies would create a flare up). Also time goes slowly when you’re in pain. A week may seem like forever but with the log you can see that improvement has actually happened in that week. I also noticed things that alcohol would affect my progress negatively.
-Instead of stretching I found that foam rolling could play a nice alternative. A lot of people think that stretching the glute loosens it but it’s the quadriceps that has a large influence on the glutes tightness and stretching the quad can help a lot.
-Swimming did wonders for me. After a swim (Or any exercise for that matter) I would feel a slight flare up but would be beneficial for the rest of the day. I would still take an anti-inflammatory on the occasion. Swimming is great because it is non-jarring, works the core muscles which support the spine and is an all-round body workout which gets the heart rate up and nutrients to the blood flow limited parts of the back.
-I’ve read mixed opinions on this but come to the conclusion that the vertebral disc can heal itself. You just need to give it time (which can take months). It becomes a sensitive part of the body and any agitation causes pain and inflammation which in turn agitates it creating a nasty cycle. In my opinion let the body do its natural healing process. And as you start to feel the pain dissipate and slowly ease into rehabilitative stuff. I also noticed that 8 hours was enough sleep and trey to walk and be up as much as possible. Also light (weight free squats) seem to work nicely. I think they build leg strength and stretch the muscle and nerves softly.
-A chiropractor once in a while feels good for freeing up movement in the joints and maybe acupuncture for tensed up muscles (such as the glute in my case which tenses up with the pain). A physio I personally would only recommend once pain free and ready to start a rehabilitative/prevention of recurrence program. But that is my personal opinion and everybody is different.
Sorry it is a bit long and I will probably put up more if some stuff comes back to me. There were times when I could not walk and all the progress I seemed to be making would disappear for no legitimate reason and I was thinking that an MRI would be necessary and was worried about surgery. Hopefully this gives any of you in a similar position a little ray of hope.