Trapped nerve


I have a trapped nerve in my lower spine, I know this as my right thigh has sharp pains going down it and my foot on my right leg has pins and needles when in certain positions. Mostly standing around sets it off. As wel as this I also have a lose bowel and weakening of the right leg. I have no pain in my back which is strange and I find sitting down and walking fine as well. My Physio has given me exersises to do to strengthen my core muscles as she thinks my back problems are down to bad posture. 

This has been going on for 5 weeks now and I have not been runing much as I was frightened to put more pressure on it, but it does not hurt when I run. My question is: Should I run if it is not hurting? Am I causing more damage?


  • Hi Debbie,

     I had sciatica back in 2001, which lasted 6 months, and sounds a similar problem to your own. I'd takes things easy with running for the next few weeks - maybe try alternating an easy running day with a day of non impact exercise such as cycling or swimming.

     Have you thought about visiting a chiropracter? - I'd certainly recommend it, as 4 physio's and 3 sports massage's did not fix the problem, but one single visit to the chiropracter did - so it's worth paying the money to get it fixed. They also suggested some post treatment leg / back exercises I could do to help rehabilitate me back to running & help strengthen the core muscles. You could search online or explore this site for exercises and stetches to help strengthen these core muscles - if you think this might have been the casue of the nerve pain, or was it something else like a fall or a minor accident?

  • Thanks for the advice.

    No I do not remember falling or having any accident.  I just started having back pain and thought I had strained a muscle, when it passed I was left with this trapped nerve.

    Thank you for the advice. What does a chiropracter do? How much does it cost?

  • One question from me - have you been to the GP as it is affecting your bowels?  One thing GPs say is that if sciatica/back pain is affecting bowel function or you have loss of strength in a limb you need to go to see them as it can be something more serious alongside the sciatica.  Sciatica often does not present as back pain but as pain in the buttock, down the hamstrings (back of the thigh), down the outside of the leg or in the foot (pins and needles).  It depends which part of the nerve has been affected.

    I am no medical person but have been suffering from sciatica (both sides) since September last year.  Keep up the core exercises and make them part of your training once you are fully recovered (you may need to refer to a gym instructor/personal trainer/coach who can give you progressions on these exercises).  Personally, I would not run until you have seen a GP regarding your bowels and weakness in the leg.

    Good luck and I hope you get sorted soon.

  • Wow thanks for the advice.

    I have been to the doctor and he thought it was a slipped disk, but my physio does not agree, she says I would be in alot more pain. I told both about the bowel problem but neither commented on it.

    I am confused with what to do!  

    I must say the core exersises really are helping, my back has never felt so strong!

    Thanks again for the advice. 

  • Can you see another GP for a second opinion?  In my health centre, you can choose who you see, whether you are registered with them or not...

    I would certainly say that the bowel probs and the leg weakness is worrying you....

    Which core exercises have you been prescribed?  I like to vary mine occasionally so always on the look out for new ones image

    Pester the docs until they take you seriously and do something - have they tested your reflexes at all?  Maybe try to get an MRI or CT scan done too to see what is going on inside...

    If it is still problematic after 5 weeks or so, I would press them to do more...  It is interfering with your daily life and your healthy lifestyle so needs looking at (that is the card I have played - they moan if you don't exercise and put on weight but you can't exercise if you are having the problems you are...)

    I find you often have to keep pestering them - if they realise it is really a problem to you then they will do something.  If not, you are always at liberty to get a second opinion...

    Good luck and let us know how you get on...

  • Debbie Allan

     Great advice from Hollyfairyelephant and if it were me, i would be pressing for an MRI.

    Just to add that I have just had a mildly slipped disk at L5/S1 diagnosed via MRI and I didn't really have any back pain either, maybe mildish lower back ache now and again like when sat at my desk all day, but main symptons which forced me to the sports doc were neural type symptoms down my left leg. So what i'm saying is that just because you don't have bad back pain, doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have disk damage.

    Good luck and yes, do let us know how you get on.

  • SuperCazSuperCaz ✭✭✭
    I suffer from sciatica and I was also warned to look out for bowel problems as this could be a sign of something more serious.  Luckily I haven't had that symptom, so I can't really advise other than to see another GP.
  • SuperCaz

    How do you find running affects your sciatica and how do you manage it?  I've been having sciatica type symptoms since Jan this year really and am just about to start on a walk/run programme after having not run in all this time (well since last Sept really) so am a little nervous!

  • joddlyjoddly ✭✭✭

    The situation with discs and sciatica/sphincter disturbance is as follows;

    If a prolapsed disc presses sideways it can irritate one or more nerve roots going to the leg, causing pain, or press on them, causing numbness and weakness. If it presses forwards, or occupies a lot of space, it can press on the nerves of the "Cauda equina" which go to the perineum and control bladder/bowel sphincters. There may or may not be sciatica-type symptoms with a cauda equina compression, and they are often in both legs.

    A "loose bowel", as mentioned, doesn't sound a problem - you should worry, though, if you lose the feeling that you need to go to the loo, or don't feel it happening when you go, or if you notice decreased sensation in your perineum. That would be an emergency and your GP should know that.

    As you have had weakness which has not settled in (nearly) six weeks, your GP should refer you to an orthopaedic or neurosurgeon anyway.

    Hope this helps.

  • SuperCazSuperCaz ✭✭✭


    My sciatica came on when I started running regularly, compared to running very irratically prior to that.  That was about 3 years ago.  It took me a long time to figure out what to do about it, other than physio and massage which was costing me a fortune, but eventually I discovered that it wasn't the running that was causing the problem, but it was the rest of my lifestyle.  Running was just the straw that broke the camels back.

    Coincidently, regular running coincided with changing jobs.  I was now sitting in a car 3 hours a day and desk based when I did get to work.  Prior to that I had a very active job.  So I rearraged my desk and chair to get a more comfortable seating position and that helped a bit.  I also now have my mouse on the left as I found that when I had it on the right I tended to lean to the right, which put pressure on my back.  Took a while to get used to, but it feels natural now.

    The physio told me how to get a good sitting position in the car.  She told me to put my seat back, so that my whole thigh was supported by the seat.  If you can't do that and still reach the wheel then try putting a towel under your knees instead.  This helped a bit, but when it came time to change my car I chose it completely on driving position and the one that had the most comfortable seat.

    I also used to sit on the floor a lot, particularly when doing paperwork.  Eventually I noticed a pattern where my back was worse the day after I had done this, so now I never sit on the floor for more than a minute or two.

    But the real cause of my sciatica was weak core muscles.  I now do 10 min of stretches every morning, to loosen my back up before I get into the car.  These are only gentle stretches, like you would do when you stretch in bed, but they really make a difference.  If I go on holiday or have a break from my routine, then the sciatica comes back.

    I also do about an hour of core work each week.  I prefer to do my own exercises, often at home, but if you prefer then pilates or swiss ball classes may help.

    Sciatica is now rarely a problem, unless I stop my routine.  Training courses are one of my worst nightmares as you are sitting in a chair that isn't set up for you and often can't be adjusted.  Last time I found a yellow pages that I could rest my feet on, and that helped a lot (although I got laughed at by the other delegates).  Hire cars are another thing that I try to avoid.

    These are some of the things that helped me.  You might have other triggers so how about keeping a diary of what you do for a few weeks and see whether any pattern emerge?

    And I still have the occassional massage if it starts getting bad, although they are only about 3 times a year now, whereas they used to be every week.

  • SuperCaz

    Great to hear you've had such good results with some simple lifestyle changes. Excellent result.

    For me, i am more and more convinced that it was actually all the stretching i was doing for my ITB flare up that set off my back/sciatic/nerve probs. In  particular the stretch where you cross one leg behing the other and then kind of lean forward and to the side and also the hamstring stetch where you sit on the floor and bend forward from the hips - basically any stretch that involves bending forward from the waist and add in a twist and I get a very irritated disk/nerve. And then once i'd irritated it , being sat at a desk all day just made it worse. I do have a mildly prolapsed disk that I did about 4 years ago but other than the pain at the time of the injury and for a few months after, it's rarely given me a problem and i just think all the stretching i've been doing must have aggravated it. 

    So, now i've modified my stretching routine to avoid the aggravating stretches and am now much more concious of how i sit at my desk - my posture was pretty bad, lots of slouching really. I'm also working on my core and am going to start going to a weekly pilates class so hopefully that will help even more.

    I can't wait to get back to running. i miss it so much.

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