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Newbie to site and sciatica...severe pain, unable to walk, sleepless nights, depressed...what next

I'm a 37 year old female diagnosed with sciatica during an e.r. visit a week ago due to excruciating back and leg pain. I had a follow-up with my PCP who did x-rays and concurred with the diagnosis and prescribed a prednisone pack. The next day my pain was even worse. I called my PCP and he called in some Flexoril which doesn't seem to be helping either. I ve been on the pack for 4 days now and am not seeing any improvement. I'm supposed to start PT on Tuesday but am unsure if that will even be possible unless my condition miraculously improves tomorrow because as it stands right now I can barely stand let alone walk or drive! This is all new to me and I thought I would have seen some relief by now but it's only getting worse. I can barely walk and am constantly in pain and missing alot of time from work. Not only is this painful but beginning to be quite depressing as i have no help around the house. Luckily I live in a pretty good neighborhood because I have to keep my door unlocked just in case anyone is kind enough to stop by because it's no way I can make it downstairs to open the door. When can I realistically expect this to get better? How do people with this condition cope with going from being an active person to being bedridden? Tomorrow will be the 2 week mark since the onset of this and every day has been worse than the last. I want to stop crying but just when I think I don't have any tears left...they come rolling down my face. I just don't know what to do!


  • I feel very sad hearing how much pain you are in right now. I wish I could help! I deal with horrible back pain, and I have only found mild relief with the strongest opiates. I don't like living like this, as I used to be active as well, and now I'm a bed/couch/recliner potato that radiates pain. lol. Well, fusion is up next, but that's after six years and two surgeries. Sciatic pain is horrific, and wish you the best in finding a solution. It may take time, and you may have to shed many more tears. I am forever awake and around with my own nightmare, so if you feel like messaging, drop me a line. While I would love to speculate what is up with you, I can't. So, tell me what else comes with the pain. Have you ever had any slipped discs?
    There is a bunch of information on here that can help, but if you want to share your misery, i'm always awake. lol. Take care, crying is healthy!
  • MinnieMeMMinnieMe Posts: 9
    edited 01/17/2016 - 4:00 PM
    First, thank you for taking the time to respond! If ive ever had a slipped disc, I'm not aware. My PCP advised that sciatica is normally due to an injury and asked if I'd experienced an injury lately. I haven't, although reading different experiences in the forums the injury could be old. And if that's the case it would be hard to determine what. At my initial e.r. visit I was told I have a bulging disc. The pain feels like I have a weight sitting in my lower back that is preventing me from standing straight and the pain shoots down my back and down through my legs. My right leg and hip hurts the most. My left leg is weak and when I do walk (as far as I can go is to the bathroom...and that's a struggle) I have to drag that foot. I'm getting 1-2 hours of sleep. When I called my PCP to advise my condition was worsening I spoke to the nurse and she said I would just have to give the prednisone pack and physical therapy some time which isn't very re-assuring. I've gotten more information from this site than the doctors I've been to.
  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    I totally understand how you feel. I have a herniation at L3-4 and this is a repeat for me. 3 yrs ago I spent 5 months in my back in excruciating pain until finally a neurosurgeon found an extruded disc fragment lodged in my nerve root causing the problem. I had surgery and it got better. Now I had tried yoga and reherniated the same disc.
    The pain is horrible mostly in my leg. If you look at a dermatome chart you can see where your pain is and what level the damaged disc is at. My nerve root is the L4 root. I am going on 8 weeks of pain and have had 2 epidurals that did not help. I most likely need surgery and hope to talk to my dr tomorrow. Pain is so horrible and unless you have felt this cannot be described to anyone. I sure hope you get some answers. I was told to wait about 8 weeks to see if things improve the chance was 80-85% that it could heal. Feel free to message me anytime,
  • My nightmare of pain started in Sept. and the docs make you follow a certain protocol. It's great that you've already had some diagnostic testing done. It took two long months before I was able to get my first MRI. I got a new mattress, tried acupuncture, massage, chriopractor, Medrol steroide pac, and Epidural injection. Finally, I got referred to a Neuro surgeon who ordered a flexation x-ray and a CT Scan It was discovered that I had Spody grade 1 and a cyst which was causing my nerve root between my L4-L5 to be pinched. When the neuro told me I needed surgery I was happy!
    I could not stand or walk for more than 5 min which meant basically I could do nothing. living like that was not an option for me.....having surgery was less scary than the thought of living like that.
    This past Wed I had a MIS lumbar micro decompression and my leg pain is gone!! It feels like a miracle after 4 long months of the most intense pain. Everyone is different but if you have any questions about my experience.....I would be happy to share.
  • Thanks for the responses. Sounds like I have more work to do with my doctor before I know the exact issue. I wish you and anyone reading this the best! I really have found slice in the support I've seen and received on this site. You can probably tell by the time I'm having another sleepless night...no tears though! I'm just hoping I make it to PT on Tuesday so that I can see if that helps or should be canceled out because these meds aren't doing anything. A friend stopped by today and brought me dinner. That put a smile on my face. For a moment I didn't feel so lonely. And that is the same feeling I get from you all. Thanks again!
  • I think we all go to our G.P and expect them to know about everything that is wrong. Its like asking a French chef to cook Indian they know a bit about it but not the details. i hope that analogy makes sense? You need to see a back specialist to find out whats going on. Sciatica isn't just from injuries.
  • Yes, that makes perfect sense! I do think that's where I'm kind of confused. Do I wait for my primary to refer me to specialist, seek them on my own, or is that dependent on my insurance?
  • I has very similar symptoms as you in 2010. Barely slept, felt alone as I was awake in the middle of the night in pain, right foot basically non functioning due to foot drop (cannot stand on toes). If you can't lift onto your toes be sure to tell your doctor...it's indicative of serious nerve incapacitation. I went to a chiropractor fitst, who relieved a bit of the pressure so the pain wasn't as bad, but he even told me to go to a doctor and they should be ordering an MRI. I did go to my doctor and he did get me in for an MRI on short order and that prompted a quick referral to a neurosurgeon. Nerve issues show up MRIs, not Xrays. Also, not all sciatic issues are due to injury. Mine came about while I was making the bed.

    Four weeks from first symptom to surgery and I still ended up with a little nerve damage in my foot (even after taking gabapenton for a year) but at least I got my function back and was pain free.

    Insurance serms to be the hold up in getting the diagnosis needed, but be sure to be specific with all pain and malfunction with your doctor's as they can advocate best to get further tests done. Best of luck, do not suffer in silence...I may be here during the late night early morning hours myself since I'm now awaiting ACDF surgery in three weeks, also sitting in pain and incapacitation.
    C6/7 ACDF January 29, 2016
    L5/S1 Micro discectomy November 2010
  • So I went to my first physical therapy session and the therapist advised that due to the way my body has basically shifted to the right (if that makes sense) it leads him to believe the disc needs to be shifted back in. Of course he explained in more detail that made more sense but the words escape me at this time. He did 3 exercises with me that I can do while laying down since I still can't really move and suggested physical therapy 3 x per week. I had several questions about not seeing any improvement and still being in so much pain to which he advised I should direct to my doctor. I called my doctor's office and left a message with the receptionist advising that I've followed doctor's orders and am not seeing any improvement. When she called back she advised that my doctor stated physical therapy is not going to work after just one visit and that I should just follow the therapists orders. Well, his "orders" were to call you I stated. I understand the PCP not knowing everything about this condition but I'm very frustrated with the lack of communication. I will continue the course with physical therapy but to not see any improvement at this point is alarming to me. The receptionist advised she would have the nurse call me back. Hours later the nurse returned my call and I swear I had the same conversation I'd just had with the receptionist. At this point I'm once again in tears and could barely get a word out. "Well what do you want us to do sweetie?" she says sarcastically. I'm like you tell me..what is the next step for a patient who is getting worse? She asked if I finished my prednisone pack. Yesterday I advised. Ok, let me call you back she says. By the end of the day no return call. I call back this morning and was advised they are going to try to get me in with an orthopedic specialist and they will once again call me back. I guess that is some progress as the Specialist should be able to tell me more than my PCP is able to. I'm just frustrated, in pain, and feel like such a nuisance every time I have to call my PCP. Also they advised that they wouldn't prescribe anything for pain as they don't like to do that for sciatica patients because it only mask the pain and I could end up doing something that would actually make it worse. Not wanting to sound like a drug seeker I didn't press the issue. I just can't believe that my only options at this point are to wait and suffer! Praying I get an appointment with the specialist soon!!!!!!!!!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    I think it's very good your primary is arranging for referral to specialist.

    My primary tried to work with my pain about two years and then referred me to pain management doctor.
    Best thing for me!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • That I get an appointment soon. This does seem like a step in the right direction. I just feel like my world has been turned upside down. I just want enough relief to at least go back to work. If i lose my job, no treatment is possible. In the interim all I can do is pray!
  • Well, you did make some progress in getting a referral to orthopedic specialist, so that is good. Don't ever feel you are being a pain by clearly stating your pain and keep reminding them you are not able to work. I hope you hear back soon on the referral and fond some way to get comfortable until this is figured out. Best wishes...
    C6/7 ACDF January 29, 2016
    L5/S1 Micro discectomy November 2010
  • I have my appointment scheduled for next Tuesday (thank God!) At this point that and the understanding from people like you on this site is the ONLY thing that I'm finding comfort in. Thanks to all who've responded in what has felt like the lowest point of my life...literally!
  • MyDogRudyMMyDogRudy Posts: 52
    edited 01/22/2016 - 5:50 PM
    you have an appointment so soon. Hope you get some answers!
    C6/7 ACDF January 29, 2016
    L5/S1 Micro discectomy November 2010
  • Just wondering how you are and how your appointment went yesterday??? I really hope it was good news.......
    Kirsti x
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