I have had bouts of sciatica sine my twenties -maybe three or four times a year for a week at most. I am now in my forties and recently had a severe flare up, which has left me with constant pain, soreness and weakness in my left buttock and upper thigh. My knee is also sore at times, essentially the whole left side from my flank down to my knee feels inflamed. I had a lumbar MRI which showed no disc degeneration or bulge, basically they said all was normal. I have scoliosis which was treated with a brace during my teens. I went to a chiropractor a few times which helped a but and ice helped as well, but this has been going on for almost two solid months with no signs of real improvement. I am wondering what else could be causing the pain and weakness and if I should be asking for any other tests. I also wonder if this is just something that I will have to live with or if there's anything I can do?
I guess I am wondering though why the MRI showed no abnormalities, is that because the acute flare of the sciatica was over? In the past I have had the flare ups but they go away, this time the pain started out as acute and now is more dull but definitely still there. It's frustrating, even the doctor's office sensed I was "disappointed" at the normal MRI result - but only because it made me question what else could be causing this pain that won't subside.
May I ask if you are seeing a spinal specialist, or who it was that ordered the MRI?
It could be that there was some inflammation around one of the lumbar nerve roots, that was pressing on the nerve and causing the pain you felt in your leg, etc. The MRI did not indicate any obvious problem such as a herniated disc, stenosis, etc. An inflammed nerve would probably not show up unless it was being squished due to some other problem.
I first went to my primary doctor who gave me a script for the flector patch and a muscle relaxant - neither seemed to do anything, so I saw a chirporactor a few times which helped a bit - he suggested I ask for the MRI. But, his personality creeped me out so I didn't go back. I am also somewhat annoyed because if I hadn't called my primary about the MRI results I don't think I would have gotten any results. When I did call they were already filed in my chart without anyone letting me know what they were. Sometimes it gets tiresome to feel like you're bothering the doctor's office all the time and when that happens I tend to give up.
Replying to my own post because I noticed something for the first time today - or at least made a connection for the first time. I went for a 20 minute walk at lunch time today and now I have an achy pain very low down on the left side directly above what most would consider the top of the buttock. This is the first time I have observed something happening immediately after exercise and it's quite painful!
I have the same problem, except in my neck. I have had pain off & on in my neck and shoulders for about 10 years. Just recently the pain went down my arm and into my hand. Also causing numbness, tingling and very weak. My MRI is also "normal". I'm now going to physical therapy. When I explained my pain to the physical therapist she said I was describing in great detail of a very specific nerve problem. I was really hoping the MRI would show something that could be fixed, even if it was surgery. Before, I only had mild pain in my neck and shoulder and no numbness or tingling. Believe me I understand your frustration.
SI (sacro-iliac) joint pain does not show up on an MRI and produces the symptoms you have described. I have suffered with them as well. A definitive diagnosis can be made by getting an injection into the SI joint and seeing if your pain goes away. If it does, you have isolated your problem. From there, you have some different treatment options. The injection itself is not a long-term source of treatment. The flare up of pain your described after your walk in a very specific location sounds exactly like pain in the SI joint itself. The rest of the pain radiates from that location.
CaliGirl makes a very solid point..SI problems are hard to pin down..and for some..the injections are a huge help...has anyone suggested an EMG to help pin down any nerve damage? I wish you luck...Perseverance is a plus..don't let a Physicians personality stop you from seeking out the answer to your problem. Remember, you're not "bothering" anyone at the Doctor's office...they're supposed to be "helping" you..and I feel you're correct..a call would have been nice..or a followup visit..which is typical with my experience!! Good luck to you!!
I have the god awful buttock pain-it starts in my low back and goes down to my buttocks on both sides...my back just feels so weak. The buttock pain is a hell of a lot worse than the back pain. When I had an MRI it showed what it said were spurs, bulging discs (herniated discs)and stenois in some places. The only way my insurance co.will do anything (whether it's injections or surgery)is if I first go through physical therapy for some 10 or 11 visits I think it is which is ridiculous to me but I'm sure it just a weeding out process. I know good body mechanics and all that jazz and outside of that feel the P.T. will be useless! My back hurts me so much I am at the point where I cannot do much of any distance walking or standing upright for extended periods of time..it hurts that much. I will have to start the P.T. or not be able to get
anything done for my back apparently. It won't be easy.
Thanks for the reply - I have done a little bit of research and it sure does sound like this might the the underlhying cause of the pain. I wonder if my scoliosis is a contributing factor as well since it creates differeing leg lengths. I am going to get in with the doctor because it is becomming such a nuisance.
I would suggest you spend some time looking for a physical therapist who specializes in scoliosis and spinal issues. I don't have scoliosis, but I just finished about 3 months' worth of PT with a clinic that has a world-class scoliosis practice. I was amazed at all the things they were doing for their teen girls that did have it. My therapist was so knowledgeable and helped me so much in my surgery for rehab. One of the first things she did was to check on whether there was a leg length discrepancy -- it my case I was favoring one side of my body because I had been dealing with sciatic pain in the right leg for over 3 years -- one hip was higher than the other, my pelvis was crooked, etc. She made me aware of all my postural challenges and now I do pay much more attention to my body mechanics.
I would definitely get it checked out...but before you get roped into a bunch of steroid injections, I suggest you try a really good physical therapist. (not just any PT...but one who specializes in the back and spine!!)