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I herniated my L5/S1 disc early January 2019, and I developed left-side only sciatica pain, which ranges from my lower back to my butt cheek/hip/top of thigh. I was referred to have a miscodiskectomy, but I wanted to try nonsurgical options first. I've received (2) Epidural Steroid Injections, the 2nd on 5/2/19, and I've also been going to physical therapy twice a week since 3/25. I am looking to see if anyone has any experience similar to mine, because I'm beginning to lose hope. I experience severe sciatic pain in the mornings, but I'm usually 90% constant pain-free by the end of the day. I bought a new mattress after I started having back issues, so I don't think it's that. In the mornings, I'll still be stiff (finger tips barely to the top of my knees when bending forward) and periodically experience a stab of pain with certain movements, but it's tolerable and only lasts a few seconds. I'm not seeing any more progress with my mornings. I sleep on my right side with a pillow between my legs or on my back with a pillow under my knees. I don't stretch in the mornings, because it's too painful. I stretch at night, and my PT agreed that was a good idea. When my butt cheek/hip/top of thigh hurts badly, laying flat on my stomach on the floor is the only thing that helps. When this first started, I couldn't lay on my stomach, because it was too painful. My pain level and range is down significantly since this mess started in January, but I can't take much more of the mornings. My back/butt cheek were cramping up so badly on my commute this morning, I had to pull over twice and I ended up calling in sick and going home. As I'm sitting home now 6 hours later, I'm a stiff but that's all. Does anyone have a similar experience and if so, how long did your recovery last? Did you end up having surgery? What helps?
Here's an example of my typical day, if it'll help.
6 AM - wake up - pain 2 - 3 and really stiff. Sometimes an quick stab, pain 4 - 5, when first standing upright. I can only touch my fingertips to mid-thigh when bending forward.
6:00 - 7:30 - morning routine (shower, time with dog, very light stretching, breakfast) pain usually a 2 - 3. Some mornings it's a constant, burning hurt, other days, it's an occasional stab/cramp. A trick that sometimes works is my boyfriend will pick me up (squats, hugs me low, then stands up straight) and the hanging sensation helps. My toes tingle a little when he sets me down, but it goes away and usually the pain does too. It doesn't work all the time though.
7:30 AM - driving to work - getting into car absolutely sucks - pain is usually a constant burning feeling in my butt cheek/hip/top of thigh, like a pulled muscle, but a 2 - 3 on a pain scale. Some days it's a constant stab in a golf-ball sized spot on my lower back and it causes my butt cheek/hip/top of thigh to cramp - 5 - 7 on a pain scale. These mornings, I turn around and go home, because I can't make the commute sitting.
8:30 AM - at work - really stiff getting out of car and usually hunched forward and to the right slightly. Usually a sharp stab, 8 - 9 on pain scale, in my lower back and it cramps up to where I can't walk for a few seconds. I take the stairs up to the 3rd floor as long as the stab is gone when I do make it into the building. If it's still stabbing, I take the elevator.
8:30 AM - 11:00 AM - usually stiff. Hamstring will feel very tight and quick or sudden movements cause a stabbing pain in my lower back. I sometimes shut my office door and lie on the floor for a few minutes if the pain flares up, but I have a standing desk and that helps. Pain ranges from 2 - 3 on a scale to basically nothing - it depends how bad the morning leading up to me getting to work was.
Noon - 5:00 PM - usually stiff, but I feel almost normal for the most part. I try to walk 1 mile on my lunch break everyday, and I stand at my desk at least 6 of the 8 hours I'm there each day. Occasionally, picking up things too heavy or twisting too exaggerated hurt, but if I'm careful, my pain is usually minimal and only lasts a few seconds when it does flare. Even if the morning was brutal, I'm usually fine by end of day.
5:00 PM - commute home - I feel fine getting into my car. Occasionally, I'll get a quick stab to my lower back, but that's normally it. Some days, towards the last 15 minutes of my commute, my butt cheek/hip/top of thigh start to get a burning pain feeling, but it's tolerable. Maybe a 2 - 3 on the scale.
6:00 PM home - getting out of the car - pain is usually a 7 - 9 on the pain scale. Sometimes it hurts so bad I can't move so I just stand and hang on my car door for a minute while the cramping subsides. Some days are worse than others where I have to basically crawl up my front steps. Other days the cramping ends and I'm fine again within a few minutes.
6:00 - 9:30 PM - night routine (dinner, clean-up, 1 - 2 mile walk with dog, PT exercises) no constant pain. Some movements cause a quick stab, but it's a 1 - 2 on the scale. I can usually touch my fingertips to mid-shin bending forward.
9:30 - 10 PM - bed. No constant or quick stabbing pains.