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marinelife's avatar

Help for a sciatica flare-up?

Asked by marinelife (58602 points ) November 1st, 2012

I went away a couple of weekends ago on leaf-peeping trip, and the bed in the hotel was terrible. I think that is why I have a sciatica flare-up now.

The pain is a constant burning down the left side of my leg, concentrated in the hip and knee with some in my left hamstring area and lower buttock. I have been unable to sleep through the night for several days.

Now it is impinging on daytime hours too. Normal pain relievers (aspirin, NSAIDs) don’t even begin to touch it.

I have done some exercises for it the past two days, but it is not improving.

Any tips from fellow sufferers about what has worked for you for pain relief?

Should I go to the doctor?

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16 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

I know your pain, I’m dealing with a flare-up right now myself. Wish I had some good advice to offer you, I usually just end up suffering through it. And if it gets worse enough I’ll take a pain killer but I really like to avoid that until a last resort type of thing. Sometimes if I take a hot bath and just kinda soak in their for a while it will relieve some of the pain to the point that its at least tolerable.

Hope ya feel better.

JLeslie's avatar

For me, not straining the area for a couple weeks helps significantly. Not lifting anything over ten pounds. Not doing laundry, not lifting heavy groceries, nothing. Only exercise is basicly walking and minor daily tasks. I assume it lets the swelling of the muscles go down. Also, careful not to twist the back. Getting out of bed or the car you bring your legs out in front of you then get up. No bending at the waist to pick up something. Lastly, there are some stretching exercises that can help like laying on your back and using a towel around your leg/foot to pull your leg towards you. Eventually when your pain is gone, doing exercise in general to strengthen your core muscles like water aerobics, belly dancing, zumba, etc. Will help prevent it from happening again.

You can try physical therapy, they will use hot and cold and show you more exercies and put that electric thing on your pack that feels like ants crawling on your skin that kind of feels beneatht the skin almost.

gondwanalon's avatar

The best relief for my sciatica has been from a chiropractor. The relief is instantaneous. I went from a lot of burning pain and weakness down my leg for many days before a single chiropractic adjustment to running a completely pain-free marathon just one day after the adjustment.

picante's avatar

I’ve suffered with this myself, and I’ve found the exercises that really open up the hips do provide relief. You can certainly Google “exercises to relieve sciatica” and see many. Like yours, my pain became quite debilitating, and I sought medical attention. I did undergo the series of injections of cortisone into the spine, and that provided immediate relief. (Yes, this is the same treatment that spawned the meningitis outbreak in recent times.) I underwent physical therapy for a bit to learn to open my hip area. I’m sorry for your pain – your description brought back awful memories for me ;-)

marinelife's avatar

@gondwanalon I had wondered about whether chiropractic would help. I may do that, but I am reluctant to have to go through the whole xray thing to start.

gondwanalon's avatar

Before the chiropractor made the first adjustments he talked to me for about a half hour and had me move in several directions and took 2 x-rays. Then about 5 years later I came back to the same chiropractor presenting the same symptoms and he took another x-ray before making an adjustment. The adjustments were always pain free and they felt like a nothing or a tiny pop and only took about a minute or less to do. I was charged about $30 per adjustment (my insurance paid for the first ten).

bkcunningham's avatar

I have a friend going through this pain as I type. She’s been for her third chiropractic visit/adjustment, heat, tinge, the entire gambit this week. She is still crippled with the pain. She has metal rods and pins in her back. I don’t know if that makes a difference or not as to why the chiropractor isn’t helping or not. Bless her heart. He told her to try a hot tub for relief since his adjustments aren’t relieving the pain. She has three more appointments for next week.

Buttonstc's avatar

I can only describe what worked wonders for me, much to my surprise.

I had foolishly carried a 25 lb. bag of cat food in one hand along with a 20 lb. box of cat litter in the other down the long alleyway to my apt.

The pain was so bad that it felt like a razor blade embedded in my hip. I could not find a comfortable position without searing pain either sitting or lying down and walking was agony. I couldn’t even sleep. Some leftover Percocet from my last root canal did nothing for the pain. I couldn’t believe it.

A friend of mine recommended her Orthopedic doctor who had sent her to an Anesthesiologist who did the spinal cortisone shots. He was also a well trained accupuncturist as in addition to his standard Western medical education and had a fantastic reputation for hitting the exact right spot.

I was told that it might be necessary to repeat in 10 days if the first shot didn’t do it so I wasn’t expecting much.

It wasn’t an instantaneous thing but each subsequent day was about a 10–20% improvement. By weeks end, I was practically back to normal but walking rather gingerly.

So far I haven’t has any repeats and have subsequently used a wheeled cart for heavy objects.

That was the worst pain I ever experienced and the results of that one shot so impressive, i’d most likely opt for it again.

But if you have a good Chiropractor who gets you the same result, I can see the appeal. But the wrong chiropractor can make things so much worse, and if I didn’t already have one I trust, I would likely be quite wary.

marinelife's avatar

I waved the white flag and went to a chiropractor today. The bad news is I don’t have sciatica (which he could have much improved with a spinal manipulation). The good news is even though it took all day (two visits to him and one for x-rays), I got an answer and some treatment.

I have had a bursitis flare-up in my left hip. It takes much longer to treat, (six weeks) but I feel some hope now with a plan and some treatment which helped some in the short term.

Thanks to everyone. I actually felt somewhat better just hearing that others had experienced what I was going through.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m glad you got an accurate diagnosis. At least now you know what to expect.

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as bursitis of the hip (I usually think of shoulder or elbow) v

I’m curious what type of treatment was done?

marinelife's avatar

@Buttonstc He moved my leg in and out to open up the hip joint, performed traction (same purpose), then used electrical stimulation for ten minutes to reduce inflammation.

He also told me to ice it for 15 minutes 4–5 times a day.

It is improved, but I still can’t sleep on my side or sleep for very long. I got two hours tonight before it got me up, an improvement from last night..

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marinelife's avatar

@serena12 I am now going to physical therapy. It is helping.

gailcalled's avatar

I am pleased to here that, @marinelife;

What kinds of passive treatment is the therapist providing and what is he having you do?

Are you being very good and doing your homework daily?

marinelife's avatar

He manipulates my hips using my legs.

Then I am doing hamstring stretches, leg lifts, and exercises the focus on my lower back.

SABOTEUR's avatar

As sceptical I was about the infomercial, I’m glad to admit the BeActive brace lives up to its advertising so far.

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