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Suggestions Please (Severe Sciatica)

My Momma has been having severe leg and butt pain for several days. She was in the ER Sunday evening and most of today. She was given tramadol about 2 wks ago. Sunday's trip to the ER revealed that she's allergic to the tramadol, so they gave her percocet. Neither drug has helped. At the ER today they tried darvocet and morphine, they didn't help either. I'm not sure what else they tried. The ER managed to get her back doctor's appt moved up to 1/2/14 from 1/9/14. She can't move without screaming in agony. I'm just looking for the different ways people keep themselves as comfortable as possible when they are hurting so bad. I understand some of her pain, I have piriformis syndrome. The things that I do for myself don't help her. She has RA, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, heart problems and possibly spinal stenosis (not 100% positive on this one yet).
So if anyone is willing to share their favorite ways to cope with the pain we would be really grateful. Thank you


  • that come over the counter, heat patches , heating pads ( 15 minutes on and 15 off - do NOT allow her to stay laying on it) , ice , topical creams and ointments for pain available in any pharmacy all will help to some degree. A warm shower will also help in the meantime.
    If her pain was that out of control, they would have admitted her, at least long enough to bring the pain down, since they can not discharge a patient until they are medically stable, so she might call her doctor if the pain continues to be that bad that she needs to return to the ER. They are not there to manage pain, and unfortunately, other than some muscle relaxants, and shots of opiates, nothing else can be done by them to treat sciatica.
  • with only minimal results. I just picked up a new Hydromorphone HCL 4mg script for her. She's got diazapam 5mg, hydromrphone 2mg, flexeril 5 mg, and methylprednisolone 4mg. She can't remember the last concoction from the ER, but that one helped the most and let her sleep. Her PC said that he may have to send her back to the hospital if the new script doesn't help. She sleeps on a temporpedic type foam mattress, with her head/shoulders propped up on pillows. I wonder if this contributes to her pain? She won't let me try massage saying it hurts to be touched. I have several pain creams, I use for my piriformis, but rolling over negates her pain meds. I just don't know what to do.
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  • sandisandi Posts: 6,269
    edited 12/28/2013 - 4:43 AM
    down in bed, and it is possible that laying on the foam is contributing to the pain since there isn't a firm surface to support her.
    She is not going to get complete relief from the pain but those medications should help. Just make sure to follow the dosing instructions exactly, not more often or more tablets than she is allowed by the dosing instructions.
    You might want to make an appointment for a board certified spine surgeon if the pain continues for her to be evaluated.
    The ER can't do the imaging tests that need to be done, and the GP is not the best option in treating sciatica.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a lifesaver for pain management. It is an electrical stimulator that suppresses the pain and muscle spams, and is very effective for sciatica. Some health insurance will cover the TENS unit if it is referred/recommended by a doctor or a chiropractor that is on the insurance plan. If you buy it yourself, make sure it is FDA Approved to be effective.

    Most pain meds don't work because it is not blocking the pain where the nerve is pinched (they only block your perception of pain in the brain, not the source of where the pain comes from). TENS stimulates the nerves, which blocks the pain at its source. It also reduces the muscle spasm, which relieves the pressure that pulls on the spine, causing the nerve to be pinched.

    Even though they recommend to stimulate the affected areas for 15-30 min, I use it 4 hr a day, and the pain reduces from the scale to 8 to 4 in 2 weeks (10 is the most unbearable pain, 0 is no pain). All my friends who have sciatica swear that TENS save their life and give their life back.

    Although it is controversial on the effectiveness of TENS, I think if you use it correctly, it helps tremendously. You start with the lowest intensity level of stimulation, because it gives you the weird tingling sensation, but you will get used to it. Once you are comfortable with the stimulation, increase the intensity. When it starts twitching the muscle, it is telling you those muscles are in spasm, and it tries to scramble the spasms. After a while, the twitching will go away, together with the spasm, and the pain.

    You have to give it 2 weeks before you really feel the effects and pain reduction. After 2 weeks, you would not want to live without the TENS, because it makes the pain so much more bearable.

    Good luck.
  • Multilevel disc and facet degenerative change superimposed on a congenitally narrow lumber spinal canal.
    Moderated disc protrusion at L5-S1 with severe central canal stenosis.
    There is posterior displacement of nerve roots extending to the right S1 foramen.
    There is mild central canal stenosis at L3-L4 and L4-L5.
    She is going back to the Dr today and is having 3 steroid injections in her back. This is what the Dr wants to do first.
    We'll see how this goes.
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