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Sciatica is ruining my life

I am writing this at 4 am running on 3 hours of sleep in 2 days so bear with me.
I am an 18 year old female with CHRONIC, HORRIBLE, EXCRUCIATING PAIN. I can't sleep longer that 2-3 hours and have to have my boyfriend pull me up to get out of bed, which usually takes 10-15 minutes because my leg feels like I am being electrocuted. I've had this pain for about a year. Sleeping in impossible, stretching is impossible, sitting is okay, exercise makes it worse. I take gabapentin but it doesn't help whatsoever. My ortho scheduled a MRI for Saturday but he won't prescribe me any pain medication. I have used hydrocodone, NSAIDS, ibuprofen, electric massager, vibration, ice, heat, I've tried just taking a ton of Tylenol PM to knock myself out and get some decent sleep but that doesn't work. I feel like I am going crazy. <--break--> Every time I wake up I am crying and screaming in pain. I feel like I want to just cut off my leg. I need help. I've tried sleeping on my side with a pillow between my legs, I've tried sleeping on my back with a pillow under my knees. I just want to sleep. I am so young. its ruining my relationship with an amazing person. I can't work I quit my job and don't even know how I'm going to pay for my MRI. What should I do?

Welcome to Spine-Health

It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong,

Here are some questions that you should answer:

  • - When did this first start?
    - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
    - What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)
    - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
    - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)
    - What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)
    - Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
    - Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
    - What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are
I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways its like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then its up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 05/13/15 09:48 est


  • When my pain was at its worst, similar to what you describe, I was prescribed amitriptyline 50mg and temazepam 15mg at night. That made me sleep like a baby. Made me drowsy during the day though. It May work for you so worth talking to doc about it.

    As for the MRI, I paid £1,100 GBP for mine (upright). Best money I ever spent as it eventually led to a correct diagnosis and effective surgery. Again, it may / may not work for you, just letting you know it can be worth every penny.

    Steve x
    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
  • Jmel_88JJmel_88 Posts: 3
    edited 05/17/2015 - 8:33 AM
    Everything you have been describing sounds like what I've been dealing with. I find that some days the sciatic pain is excruciating and others it winds down a bit.
    The only pattern I have found is that when I spend less time in bed, it helps the pain. Even if my leg is hurting as bad as you've describe (trust me I've thought cutting it off was a great option), I try to get up and walk around for at least 10-15 minutes. The other day I did a 30 minute walk and felt incredible! Almost as if all my symptoms had been cleared. It could be mental, but I think trying to get up and taking a small walk will help you.
    Look into payment options for an MRI. I'm not sure what type of healthcare you've got, but having an MRI really helped me to understand what was going on with my spine. I almost feel like knowing what's happening inside of my body has made me a bit more cautious in my daily actions. But, at least I know what's happening.

    Best of luck to you! I hope you get an MRI soon to find out what's happening.
  • I'm so sorry to hear you are in so much pain :( I also have nerve pain, not to the degree you have, and gabapentin has not worked for me at all either. I take tramadol 50mg about 4-5 times a day and honestly it has been the only thing that has taken the edge off. It doesn't get rid of the pain, but its the only thing that makes a difference, especially when I take it with Tylenol (apparently it helps if work better). See if your doctor will prescribe it to you. It is not a narcotic so maybe he would be more willing. It's considered a narcotic like medication so I know some people get sleepy taking it, but I never have. Seriously ask your doctor, it's the only thing that has helped me with all my pain (sciatica). I wish the best for you!
    1 1/2 years chronic pain in butt, hip, and sometimes low back. 7 steroid injections (piriformis, s1, si joint, hip joint). Hip labral repair arthroscopic surgery 12/2015. Sciatic neurolysis 12/2015.
  • di.youngddi.young Posts: 1
    edited 05/26/2015 - 4:22 AM
    I had Sciatica for 5 1/2 Months! I so feel bad for you!!! It's only now starting to come loose. I was working out & a few days later started to have lower back pain. It became horrible just before Christmas where I couldn't lift my Leg to get into my Jeep. I had to lift my sweat pants & swing it in & would get horrible shooting pain! That lasted for 3 1/2 weeks! Even after, it changed to a heavy ache with pain! I tried to keep working out, but after 2 1/2 Months it wasn't working. Then I didn't do anything for 3 weeks & still didn't help! Finally went to the Hospital in February & X-Rays said my Sciatica was pinched between L3-4 & L4-5... No MRI done at time. Went to my GP & they gave me Ketoral (same as Tramadol) & Cyclobenzaprine but after a couple days, I didn't think it was working, so I stopped taking them! Went to Chiropractor about 6 times but I was so tight, he couldn't crack lower back! Went to Physio & he said to do the 'Lotus Position' of Yoga to stretch out the Muscle/Nerve! Also to walk & swimming is supposed to help. I started walking 5-7 Days a week & swim, 2 times a week for couple Months! NOTHING was helping!!! The heavy aching still persisted & I felt it still 'off'!!! I was losing my mind!!! It was making me depressed as I just wanted the Pain gone! My Mother & a couple friends that have had it for Years!!! Some had Surgery & it didn't go well. One friend has had it for 3 yrs!!! He's been on Pain Patches & Oxy! He's going to get Surgery in Mexico soon! It scared the crap out of me! Went back to my Doctor a week ago, bawling my eyes out, cause I just couldn't take it anymore! I've been doing everything they said & NOTHING was working! She offered me Cortizone shots & I was too scared to have them, as people I've known said they don't work! Couple of days after seeing my Doc, I started taking the Cyclobenzaprine & Ketorlac again & bought this Cream called Zostrix! It's kinda like Lakoda, if you know what that is! It heats the area! But wash your hands really good as it burns terribly if you touch your Eyes/Nostrils!!! (Yes, I picked my Nose & Man Alive, that sucked!!!) I swear the Cream helped! Plus, I stopped walking & swimming for a week! I don't know if it was the combination of everything but it's starting to loosen up! I so feel bad for you! Try the above as it starting to work for me! I don't envy ANYONE who has had to go through this!!!! I'm going to slowly start walking again & see how that goes. Then I'm going to start doing more Core Exercises in a bit, as this is supposed to take pressure off the Sciatica! I sure hope yours goes away soon as it's a horrible way to live! Good Luck & I'm sorry you are going through this!
  • I, too, have been experiencing a lengthy dose of sciatic nerve pain down my left leg. I've tried all the conservative treatments (chiro, PT, drugs like Lyrica and now Tramadol, Naprosyn, etc...). Nothing helped. I've been averaging 3 hours of sleep a night because it wakes me up. My hips begin to hurt when I'm laying down because I can't lay on my back. I've found that one side is better than the other. When I lay with the "good" leg on the bed, I pull it all the way up as far as I can (comfortably) and stretch out the "bad" leg then relax with good leg still in bent position and bad leg still straight. I'm able to get about 25 minutes of sleep that way without pain. It's not much but I'll take it. I feel for you and hope you get some relief soon. You should not let money get in the way of your health. You are young and have a long life ahead of you. I, on the other hand, am 47 and everything is falling apart at the same time! LOL!! Hang in there!
    Baltimore, MD
    L4/L5 and L5/S1 microlaminotomy and discectomy
    Scheduled for 6/16/15
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