Leg Pain / Sciatica / Disc Problems

Hi all

 I’m looking for some advice or encouraging words from anyone that has suffered from long-term sciatic nerve pain.

 I’m 41 and have been running for the past 2 years (late starter after giving up smoking and boozing!). I slowly increased my weekly mileage and did a couple of half marathons. All was great. Then in January this year I noticed pain in the back of my thigh. It would get progressively worse when running and remain sore for a day or 2 afterwards. Over time, the pain spread to the outside of my knee, into my calf and eventually into the sole of my foot.

 I saw a physio, who thought it was a tight piriformis muscle aggravating my sciatic nerve. They prescribed piriformis / glute stretching, foam rolling and nerve glides / flossing. I did these as prescribed for 2 months but there was no improvement. By this point I’d stopped running altogether as the pain, especially in the back of my thigh, was too intense.

 After seeing an osteopath and another physio and trying various combinations of stretching, strengthening of my hips and glutes and nerve flossing, all with no success I paid to see one of the leading sports doctors in my city. They reckon the problem is actually a bulging / herniated disc between my L5  / S1 vertebrae which is pressing on my sciatic nerve and therefore causing the leg pain. There is no pain in my back at all, it’s all in my leg.

 They’ve referred me for an MRI, but this could take weeks. In the meantime they’ve suggested I keep active and continue nerve glides / flossing. I’ve tried pool running, swimming (without using my legs), cycling, rowing and the cross-trainer but all of these things aggravate my nerve and cause pain either during or after the workout.

 So, currently I can’t do any exercise at all, which is driving me mental, I’m really missing running and I’m starting to feel pretty despondent and like my injury might never get better.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

Thanks

Comments

  • bk42bk42 ✭✭✭

    You sound like my twin! Haven't run since February, with same symptoms although now having lower back pain. Have tried two physios, one osteopath and a podiatrist who also looks at running gait, very frustrating. I diligently do all exercises to strengthen hips/pelvis, cross train and started walking instead, got up to 27 miles with no pain. Also started pilates twice weekly, which helps. But still can't run. They also say sciatic aggravation, with possibly a double crush of nerves at L5/ S1 and sciatic at Piriformis. 

    Try walk, I know it sounds like a cop out, but I did a  marathon in just over 6.5 hours, and I try to put in one long walk a week, which really helped my mental state. You can walk pretty fast if you want to, if your nerves let you of course. let me know how you get on, I'm hoping on MRI next, have docs on Tuesday. 

    42 years old feel like I'm 70 at the moment! 

  • Thanks for your reply. Your injury sounds pretty similar to mine! The frustrating thing is I've had so much different advice about stretching, flossing, strengthening etc that I'm not even sure what to do for the best now. Walking sounds like a plan but I think it'll cause another flare up. My main pain is in the back of my thigh. Feels like s hamstring pull but almost certainly isn't.
  • well I am 70 now!!

    I had very similar symptoms - however they were allied to extraordinary lower back spasm/pain which would literally paralyse me until I learned that I had to push through it in order to reduce the symptoms marginally.
    Extensive physio and exercises did nothing to reduce the frequency of occurrence or the pain.

    Ultimately after an X ray and MRI scan it was discovered that I had severely herniated discs at L4 & L5 which were pressing into the neural system and causing both the back pain and the radicular pain down my leg and foot.
    Surgery was the only real option for a potential cure and I underwent a micro -discectomy 2 years ago to reduce the herniation and form a groove for the neural system.
    Careful and prolonged recuperation and exercise after for 3 months building up by walking up to 10 miles a day and then slowing introducing very short running bits.- 1min run/9 min walks and then progressed from there until it was 9 min run/1min walk after another 3 months.
    Good enough to run 22:10 for a 5K which wasn't too bad for a 69 year old.
    Just when I though it was over it the neural pain in the leg flared up again image

    Further MRI indicated that the surgery had been a success and that it was thought to be residual neural memory reacting in the old way rather than in a normal fashion but it was impossible to shift with conventional physio and exercises.
    In desperation I started to try and re train the nerves by introducing short sprints into my walking on the principle that sprinting recruits all the muscles in the right order and the neural pathway has to respond and very slowly the pain has largely disappeared over 9 months!!
    My consultant has been most impressed with the process which he describes as unique!!

    Not sure if this gives you both any renewed hope or a way forward but there is a possible treatment. Hopefully a MRI will reveal the extent of the problem and a way forward.

    One final point - if at any stage you start to have problems with bladder and bowel control see your doctor immediately - it can be a potential serious condition that needs immediate attention. That should have been drawn to your attention already but sometimes things get missed.....................

     

    Good luckimage

  • Hi. Thanks for your reply. Sounds like the MRI then possibly surgery is a potential solution. Excellent 5km time by the way! Interesting approach re the sprinting. I can barely jog just now though so I'll maybe leave that for the time being.



    I also have really tight hamstrings and inner thigh and clicky hips, all on the same side as my leg pain which all kind of jumbles up with the nerve pain making it difficult to know what stretches or strengthening to do for the best. Also, total rest reduces the pain a bit but doesn't eradicate it completely.
  • bk42bk42 ✭✭✭

    I'm with you on that - difficult to know what to do, but like the idea of sprinting you way out of it, Torque Steer! Crikey I would be really pleased with a 22 min 5k now, let alone in 20+ years time - massive respect!

    Walking did initially still niggle but I walked through it, and it dissipated. Keep me posted if you have any luck, likewise if I hear of any useful advice Ill let you know, best of luck. 

    Did my stretches as recommended by my osteopath, and Pilates as recommended  by my physio, and my leg is numb to my foot today! So frustrating!!

  • An MRI scan should show up exactly what problem is.

    I have had sciatica in past (caused by L4-L5 bulging disc).

    You can get an epidural injection with corticosteroids as an alternative to surgery.

    I would also suggest looking at other lifestyle factors, not just running. How is your posture, what sort of work you do, etc.

    Long term you need to do core exercises and mobility exercises.
  • I had lumber decompression surgery in 2001 as had very similar symptoms to you, but with severe back spasms. L5 disk was herniated & then part of it broke off & intermitently pressed on the sciatic nerve. Surgery was only option. It wasn't until I had the MRI scan that they were able to give accurate diagnosis. I ended up going private for the MRI as I was in so much pain I couldn't bear to wait.

    My back is 90% ok now. It has the occasional bad phase, but I see an osteopath every 4 to 6 weeks for "maintainence" " do Pilates weekly for core strength. I only took up running just over 2 years ago & my back has managed to cope with 2 marathons & a number of halves.

    Good luck

  • Sammyjo
    good progress - well done.

    It is a depressingly familiar story - the NHS tries to economise by sending those with severe back problems

    1. to physio, when the accepted wisdom is that if the pain has persisted for more than 6 weeks then it will do no good,
    2. then x-ray which will not show soft tissues/neural damage and only then
    3. onto MRI.

    Like you I skipped past stages 1 and 2 as my physio who has kept my body together for too many years wrote a very strong letter suggesting disc damage and severe neural impairment.

    I had a very supportive consultant who wanted to return me to running and I keep in touch with him to report progress.

    One of the more amusing anecdotes of the whole, fairly grim business came when I went to a spinal workshop 6 weeks after my operation. 
    There were about 10 people there who had undergone spinal surgery and the physio who was running the workshop asked each in turn what they wanted to achieve post surgery. 
    Typical answers were - tie shoelaces, go for a walk, play golf etc and I was last (and oldest!) to answer with " a return to being a top age graded runner" which caused some consternation image

    I find that core exercises now exacerbate my back and cause spasm so they are off the agenda. It is rally a matter of finding out by trial and (sometimes painful!!) error what suits one best

  • Faster74
    forgot to say that in swimming never use breaststroke as that can aggravate the nerve a lot more than crawl. I could swim a bit and not get too much discomfort but pool swimming compared to running outside..........................

  • HA77HA77 ✭✭✭

    Torque Steer - It really annoys me when I hear physios talk about not being able to help with back pain if it's been there for more than 6 weeks. It's a complete cop out. The NHS trusts just want to make their waiting list shorter and improve their stats. Most of the physios don't have the skills to treat complex spinal problems so it suits them too.

  • The best person I ever saw for my back pain was the nhs physio, he basically diagnosed what was wrong with me and told me that I should have a cortisone injection. Unfortunately he wasn't allowed to prescribe this, so I waited months to see a consultant, months for a scan which then got lost then found, months to see another consultant, more months before I finally got the injection! By then my back was largely better anyway!!!!

    I've met amoebas with more personalities than some of the consultants, they never really explained the problem in plain english and talked to me in the third person through a nurse!

    At least my back is mostly better I often have aches and, I get relapses occaisionally but can self manage my problems with yoga and occaisional use of painkillers.

     

  • I had sciatica flare-ups from time to time and as I remember it’s hard to sit and walk without atrocious pain during that time. I tried everything - chiropractors, acupuncture, painkiller nothing really helped me as much as I wanted. However, one day I tried to do some stretching exercises hoping to get some pain relief. It was hard to force myself to practice those stretches, but I tried and surprisingly my pain was almost gone after first session. I’ve also found some information that if I combine stretches with alternative treatment methods I might get even better results. And it was truth! I’m now 9 months sciatica pain free! If someone is struggling with sciatica like I did, then I highly recommend to read this free e-book first “Sciatica. Why You Have Been Treating It Wrong!”. Good luck! https://allaboutspine.blogspot.com/
  • > @gbuorke said:
    > I had sciatica flare-ups from time to time and as I remember it’s hard to sit and walk without atrocious pain during that time. I tried everything - chiropractors, acupuncture, painkiller nothing really helped me as much as I wanted. However, one day I tried to do some stretching exercises hoping to get some pain relief. It was hard to force myself to practice those stretches, but I tried and surprisingly my pain was almost gone after first session. I’ve also found some information that if I combine stretches with alternative treatment methods I might get even better results. And it was truth! I’m now 9 months sciatica pain free! If someone is struggling with sciatica like I did, then I highly recommend to read this free e-book first “Sciatica. Why You Have Been Treating It Wrong!”. Good luck!

    I agree that stretching exercises are good for that. But when you do it, at least for some period of time it hurts. I massaged the painful area with Acuraflex cream and i felt relief. That way i can continue with stretching and other exercises without pain.
  • hi ,
    I have found a masseur who can eleveate sciatic pain. I had it terribly for 2 years, not being able to walk properly or play football with my son. In fact I struggled to carry him for some time.
    I am a fit surfer and thought this was the end of my life. I also met so many people with the same issues and read everything online with no real resolve.

    Fortunately I found Alex and he has totally relieved my issue.

    I write here to give hope to those who are in the same position as I was.

    He has a website and may be able to help so many more people. I really can’t thank him enough.

    Check www.sciaticure.com , get in touch and see I found he can help you!
  • For getting healthy quickly really good pharmaceuticals can help your body a lot. A tip are the products from Evonik, its a company from the health care industry that never disappointed me. https://healthcare.evonik.com/ Best wishes for you.
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