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My back & sciatica journey.

Hi all sufferers,

I'm here to tell my story in hopes that it may provide someone with something they haven't tried yet. Disclaimer: I'm not in any medical/health field (I'm in entertainment), nor am I affiliated anyone in those industries, and I'm not selling anything, and anything I write should be taken as it worked for me and it may not work for you.

So, here we go. As a very active boy to man (I'm now 46) I played in a ton of sports: football, baseball, soccer, golf, skateboarding, dirt-bike, surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding, etc...My body always held up great, no big injuries, and my only broken bone was my little toe, which I broke by snagging it on my couch. Then came 1994 when I had a really bad snowboarding accident involving my leg. It didn't break, it should have, it just bruised the entire left leg. Well, I recovered and that was that.

Then a few months later I walked out of a movie theater and felt a soar muscle pain in my lower butt cheek. The pain grew and by the time I got back to my apartment I could barely walk. Needless to say I was freaked out. Is it my leg? Is it my hip? I had no idea. I called emergency and they said if I can make it through the night I should see my Dr. in the morning. The next morning (I slept on the floor in the living room because I couldn't get into bed) was even worse. Freaked out even more I shuffled myself down to the car and I was off to emergency. When I got to the hospital I opened my door to get out, however I quickly found out my legs were really not working, so down I went. I ended up crawling all the way across the parking lot and into emergency. In a nut shell I herniated some disks and the Dr's gave me an option, into the hospital now for surgery or epidural/cortisone for temp relief. I opted for the needle, tho that freaked me out as well, a needle into my spine are you kidding me!

Now with the ability to shuffle a little better and get in and out of my car without falling I spent the next 2 months seeing every back Dr. in Los Angeles, including a friend who was a sports physical therapist who worked at UCLA and with the Lakers/Clippers organizations. Everyone had the same response, you need surgery now! Apparently (many x-rays) I herniated the 3 lower disks in my back and 2 in my neck severely. My friend at UCLA said it was the worst she's seen. So, with that in mind, I started researching Dr's in LA and back surgery in general. To my disappointment what I found was surgery may not fix it entirely and I may need a second or even third operation, not to mention the word "fused" started coming up. I thought needles in my spin were bad enough, I had a few over those two months, but to get bones fused!!! Are you kidding me!!! But, I was in so much pain (you all can relate) that there was no other option. At least that is what I thought.

One day I reached out to an old friend who I knew had a bad back and asked how he was and what he did. Last time I saw him he was hunched over looking for a good Dr. His response to me was stay away from surgery and go see this little lady, Cathy. Well, I figured I'll try anything before I go the surgery route, and the handful of pain meds a day gave me some time to poke around. I pulled up to Cathy's house, where she worked, and she watched as I shuffled my way to her, as I held back the tears of pain. Her response was I can fix you, but you have to trust me. She told me you are about to go through a lot more pain, you will feel worse tomorrow and even the next day, but if you trust me I can fix you. What she did was the deepest of deep tissues I've ever endured. I cried for an hour as she worked on me. There were times I was trying to get up off her table and she would climb on top and continue to drive her fingers and some nubby wood thing deep into my back/leg muscles. When it was over, as the blood raced through my body, I felt I was on some wild drug high. I had to sit in my car for 20 minutes so my head would clear enough for me to drive. I felt great, but physically there was no change, but was curious how the next day would be.

The next morning I woke up and could barely move. I was a lot worse and in more pain then ever. I called Cathy immediately, as she anticipated, and said, "I told you this would happen, you need to trust me. Drink plenty of water and keep icing I'll talk to you tomorrow." The next day, there was no change, so I called Cathy freaking out. All she asked if we were on for Friday, 2 days later. Now to make this long story shorter. I went Friday and continued to see Cathy 2 days a week. 9 weeks later!!!! I was surfing and 100% cured!!! She saved me!

Over the years I sent dozens of friends (or friends of friends) to Cathy all who had the same results. I ended up going to her every 6 months for a little maintenance and actually thoroughly enjoying the deep tissue. It was miserable as she worked on me , but when she finished I felt I could take on the world. Then one day she retired and moved away to be never heard from again. Thankfully in that time I was able to find a guy, Mark, who is a trained chiropractor, who does ZERO adjustments, has a different deep tissue technique, with the same excellent results. My problem is I can't give in to the fact that I'm getting older, so from time to time (over the years) I would throw my back out from either surfing or snowboarding. I would walk into Mark's office hunched over and in ONE visit I was fixed. I'd be soar for about a week, but after that I felt no pain in my body. You think I would learn but this went on for years, Hey, why back off on the fun when I have a Mark?

Cut to: July of 2012. I hurt myself surfing and figured through more surfing and running I can work through this. Not the case. In a matter of days I had the worse sciatica pain I've ever felt. Worse then 1994. This happened on a Sunday and I was starting a new job the next day. That night I didn't sleep. I couldn't the pain was too much. You would think laying down would be the only thing you could do to alleviate the pain. It turned out laying down and sitting where the only things I couldn't do. If I was standing I had a soar butt, but if I was sitting and laying down, the pain was unimaginable (well not for you guys). The next day I called Dr. Mark for an emergency visit on my lunch break, but I still had to go to work. That's when I found out I would be in "training" all week, which meant sitting at a desk. With Vicodin in hand (well, in body) I went to work. I saw Mark at lunch, but this time, I didn't feel any better. I thought because it was a different injury it may take another visit. (to speed this up a little...) Over the next 3 weeks I saw Mark a handful of times all resulting in the same result, no change. Also, I stepped up my meds. I was on vicodin all day, oxycodone at night, and ambien to get me to bed. However, no matter what I took and how much I took the sleep was always the same. I would get 4.5 to 5 hours of sleep before unbearable pain would wake me up.

Then came the thoughts... what if Mark can't fix me this time... what are my options? So, I took to the Google to find some answers and all I found, after hundreds of hours, was doom and gloom. Some things here and there helped but never really found too many success stories. It was very depressing. So, I told myself I'm not going down (having surgery) without a fight. I felt and still feel the muscle work is key. I've never bought into getting an adjustment. IMHO, muscles pull the bones out of whack, not the other way around. Plus I have countless friends who see their chiropractors every two weeks, for adjustments, and have done so for ten's of years. That's not getting fixed! (IMHO). I ran into a neighbor the other day who is having back issues and I told her I have a guy. She said she just started on a program with a chiropractor. 50 visits over the next 18 months. I told her I bet that is the exact amount her insurance will allow. Her boyfriend agreed and she didn't want to talk about it. Maybe she hasn't hit bottom as I had twice.

In a nut shell. I continued the muscle work, going to Mark once every ten days. I also know that you need to be active so I set out to create my own therapy routine. I would do some light sciatic stretches, which you can find online via the Google, followed up by some core work. Basically, I tried everything I found. Some my body could handle and some not at all. When I first started out I could barely do anything. It took days/hours to progress through the routines. Then ICE ICE ICE... I iced for 20 minutes every night.

Let's cut to the chase because I'm writing way too much and leaving things out. 5 months after getting my sciatica I am 100% cured. Not a molecule in my body hurts and I'm back to surfing. OK, I've given into my age, and will only be long boarding from now on and will not go out in big surf ever again. Also, I've stopped running completely, never again. It's just not worth it.

What worked for me was Mark and working out. My work out routine during that time was every other night I would do push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches. Nights I didn't work out I did little stretches. I bought one of those pull-up bars that go on your door jam inside the house (just hanging from the pull-up bar felt pretty good). I would use it for pull-ups and then put it on the floor for push-ups. Then I used a huge fitness ball and did various crunches, but nothing too extreme. Sometimes I would watch TV and just crunch around. The pull-ups were not and still are not starting from a dead hang. You can use your feet to give you just a little pop before pulling yourself up. OK, I've always been in decent shape, though I haven't been in a gym in 8 years. Mostly just from surfing and running. So, to start pull-ups & push-ups it was starting from scratch, especially the pull-ups. I started with sets of 3. I would do 15-20 push-ups, then 50 or so crunches and then 3 pull-ups, then crunch, then push, then crunch, the pull, etc... 5 months later I will do 80-100 push-ups, 200 crunches, and 30-40 pull-ups per set. I usually end around 300 push, 1200 crunches, and 120 pull-ups. Also, as an added benefit I lost 17 pounds when I didn't think I needed to lose more then 5.

Now, this wasn't easy at the beginning. Everything was a struggle. Every stretch hurt and sometimes my body would jerk from the pain. There were 50 days throughout those 5 months where I didn't want to work out, ice, etc... but I did. I have 2 little girls that I want to play with and I don't want the future to be in a wheelchair. I did something 6 days a week. Oh, also, I started to ween myself off the meds and probably around the 3 month point I was med free. Today, I still workout and stretch, and will continue to do that until I die. If this what keeps me from the back/sciatica pain then it's a no-brainer to do it forever.

I hope this helps someone if only to show that someone out there has gone from hell and back and is now 100% healthy... knock on wood :)



  • Man that's a great story I been doing stretchs with a little pain relief the dr said I need surgery but I just don't want to be worst than before .
  • Steve, it's great to hear non surgical success stories. Thanks for coming here and letting us know. I hope that some people will be inspired and helped.

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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385

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