Help - Can't get comfortable w/Sciatica pain/herniated disc
Does anyone have any suggestions for finding a comfortable sitting/laying position for sciatic pain?
Dec 2009 back went out and started physical therapy. Part way through PT, had exercise on ball where lift one leg up - that night, terrible pain & numbness started down left leg. Had MRI- herniated L5/S1 disc - Compressing nerve. Tried traction and epidural lumbar steroid injection with no results. Had microdisectomy Oct 2010. Had pain after surgery but slowly felt. Dr didn't suggest PT after surgery (maybe should have). Aug 2011 started having more pain again. Finally got MRI in November and same disc herniated again. PT again. Was doing better & going to gym to walk 30 minutes (3.8 mph) and also walking in pool. End of December, started having major pain on left side again and had to stop PT.
Now I can barely walk and its very slow. I have intense pain in lower back but the pain in my left butt and down the left leg is so bad that my pain level has gone up to 10 at times.
I was on percocet 5/325 every 6 hours but couldn't always make it 6 hours and even with the percocet, my pain level was still at 4 to 6. Two Saturdays ago my pain was so bad laying on my good side in bed and with 2 percocets pain level was still 8/9 that I ended up in ER. Got pain injection and muscle relaxer. Muscle relaxer w/ pain meds seems to help a little but still in constant pain. Never less than a 4/5.
Went to pain specialist in January & had epidural injection. It actually made pain was for 3 days and am 1.5 weeks from injection with no relief. I was switched to 10mg oxycodone (Percolone) and am still always at no less than 4/5. Also not receiving any more muscle relaxers from new Dr. I have another injection scheduled for the 10th. I go back to neurosurgeon on 16th and if no relief from the injections, I will be scheduling another microdisectomy.
The thing is no matter what I try, sitting in chair, lazyboy, laying in bed, nothing is comfortable. I've tried ice packs, heat, biofreez. I cry every night from the pain when laying in bed. Plus don't sleep very long period of time. Also get muscle spasms only in left calf.
It feels like some is jabbing a poker in back of butt and thigh and its on fire. Also I'll be walking and all of a sudden sharp pain stops me in my tracks and have to stand where i am for a while until pain subsides.
I'm sorry you are in so much pain. Those of us that have had sciatic pain can really sympathize with you. I'm afraid I do not have any suggestions to help with pain. I was lucky in that my sciatic pain would subside the minute I got off my feet. All I can suggest other than ice, is to just keep trying various combinations of positions and pillows when in bed. I have found that moving just a small amount can be enough to switch the pressure off of the nerve. For example, I was having pain across low back/buttock to hip attachment. I recently had surgery on my nose and I had to sleep at a 45 degree angle on my back for several weeks. After a couple nights, I realized I didn't have the hip pain any more. I took out the bolster and used a regular pillow and within about five minutes, the pain returned. I cannot explain what was going on...but I do know that just slight adjustments can make a difference.
I have a big assortment of pillows that I use when attempting to sleep -- all different shapes and sizes, and different densities as well.
There is a diversion of opinion regarding recliners. My "team" wouldn't allow me to use one, saying that whatever "support" it supposedly provided wasn't in the right places, and didn't fit my particular spinal curves, so it really caused more problems than it helped.
When I had sciatica (which I no longer have after a 3 level fusion), the most comfortable position was the following:
Lie flat on the floor; feet flat on floor with knees bent. Be sure the body is in a straight line. Keep arms close to the sides with palms facing up. Align head so the chin is very slightly tipping toward chest. The idea is to get as much of the back of the neck touching the floor as is possible (comfortably). Once in position, just relax and breathe deeply from the stomach.
This position is wonderful because it is a natural form of traction. It allows the discs to unload, allows the guarding muscles to let go and it allows the natural curves of the spine to realign. If you have a large gel back, you can chill it and then lie on it while in this position which might provide more relief.
When I was in the midst of all my issues, I've been known to find a quiet corner in an airport and lie down in this position on the floor. After about five minutes, I'd be able to get up and continue on with my journey.
Has your doctor given you one of the "nerve" pain drugs like neurontin, gabapentin or Lyrica? You might try one of those for a bit of relief. I don't think anything completely takes away sciatic pain...but every little bit can help.
Hi, I too suggest nerve pain meds. There are several out there you just have to find the one right for you and be sure to increase the dosage slowly to lower chances of side effects, when you start getting bad side effects you either have to back down on the dose or try another med. I have an electric bed which helps me with my positioning. Ice is my best friend,no heat for me! I was told by PT that the heat can increase inflammation. I also use lidoderm patches (just a topical patch w/ lidocaine in it) that help numb the area. Have you tried a TENS unit yet? another trick. Ask PT or dr. about it. hope thishelps, hope you feel better soon (((HUGS)))
Nora, have you tried topomax yet? That's what I take and one of the side effects is weight loss!!! But please start at 25mg and don't move up the dosage for like 2 weeks to prevent side effects. I'm on 100 mg now and it also helps w/ migraines, all over body pain and depression a little bit. Ask your dr. about when you go for your injection maybe. good luck with the shot! cj
[QUOTE=no34evr;4923122]Nora, have you tried topomax yet? That's what I take and one of the side effects is weight loss!!! But please start at 25mg and don't move up the dosage for like 2 weeks to prevent side effects. I'm on 100 mg now and it also helps w/ migraines, all over body pain and depression a little bit. Ask your dr. about when you go for your injection maybe. good luck with the shot! cj[/QUOTE]
Funny you should post this!!!! I tried Gabapentin, Lyrica, cymbalta, neurontin and they all made me so sick (not physically, but functionally) so sick that I couldn't take them. Lyrica was HORRIBLE! And Cymbalta was a 2nd close to the point I couldn't even function enough to hardly get out of bed to get to a chair. Anyway, the Dr in a last ditch effort wanted to try topamax or another drug which I forgot the name of... we never ended up trying it. Well the topamax didn't work at all for my pain, BUT I found out that it worked for migraines and I haven't had one since I went on the stuff. I ended up getting another Dr to take over prescribing it for me as a preventative for my migraines and now don't have to treat them after I get them! WOO HOO!!!! Yes, you do start at 25mg but you can safely tritrate up to 50 mg at 10 days and 75 at the next 10 days and then to 100 at the next 10 day mark. Well according to the pharmacist I use. The biggest thing is DO NOT stop taking this medicine suddenly. You must tritrate back down if you want to discontinue use of it. That is very important.
Nora01, sorry for the temporary hijack. Topamax didn't work for my pain but it has worked for others. According to the Dr's I have seen, my case and I have been a difficult one to try to figure out along the way... I wish you luck in finding a resolution to your pain. I have been in search of one for 17 months now...
Nora...I am right there with you on getting comfortable. I agree it is especially difficult at and I sleep about 1/1/2-3 hrs. at a time, then I am up. I do find that no matter how badly I hurt, if I walk around the house for a little bit, it takes the edge off the pain, and then when I take the next dose of pain meds, it kicks in a little better. I believe I read that strategy on this board somewhere, and it has helped me a bit.
I'm curious how old you are and how your next surgery went. I noticed you posted this actually back in February. I ask because I am 59, and five years ago I had a hernatied l5-s1 and injections worked like a miracle. I was fine until Dec. 2011. I had 3 injections this time and PT..and I did get so much better. However, I have a flare-up again, to the point i had to take medical leave from work. I'm up...it's 3AM...have had new MRI and will the Dr. on Wednesday. He was pushing me toward surgery last time, but I wanted to try the 3rd injection. So glad I did. I fear he will now say that surgery is next, as I have developed numbness and tingling in the back of my thigh, calf and hee/ouside and underneath of left foot. I'm really anxious about the surgery.
hello Nora. How many hours a night are you able to sleep?
I commiserate with you. I know EXACTLY how you feel with trying to find a "cofortable" position to lay down and rest, or god forbid, sleep.
I suffer from chronic neck pain. Cannot rest my neck on the pillow for 7 years already....and obviously naturally you cannot sleep. There are days you cannot sleep at all. Most nights 1-2 hours at night if you don't take sleeping pills.
It's interesting. Some people who suffer from chronic pain even severe one can sleep. My doctor has told me that even cancer patients can sleep, why can't I?. ya right. All those doctors.
Let them have my neck and try rest it on the pillow.
Topamax might help but other than losing weight but other side effect is losing your hair. (read side effects).
I did not get the 2nd injection as the 1st one cause too much pain with no relief at all. I had a 2nd microdisectomy at the end of February as living in the pain I was in was not really living. I was driven to/from work every day and was in constant pain. I was on 5 oxycodone a day along with Aleve. Even with this my pain level was never below a 5. Surgery was succcessful in taking 90% of the pain away where I no longer need narcotics which is what I am very glad to be off of. I just finished a round of PT (out of visits) where focused mainly on strenghting my legs and core. I know do majority of exercises on my own at home / gym. Although a cold knocked me out from going to the gym most of last week.
I still have some pain all the time which I take Aleve everyday. I have to be careful all the time as still at risk of herniating the disk again. Next surgery option would be fusion which really don't want.
I still have partial leg/foot numbness which will most likely not go away but I started having numbness before 1st surgery in 2010. Nerves are strange. It could take a year or more after surgery to really know if the numbness goes away.
Sleep is still an issue but not as bad as before surgery. I wake up in pain/stiffness every day but do stretching exercises before even getting out of bed. I usually take an Advil PM before bed which helps.
Another thing I do know is not clean the house as much I have two people come in every other week that do floors/dusting/bathrooms/stairs etc.
Walking is by far the best thing. I feel the best after this and if I don't walk I can feel it later in the day/ next morning. I got a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps a day which really helps me. I also walk in pool at the gym as this is least stress on back. I've lost about 5 pounds since surgery but have noticed my leg muscles are alot stronger than before surgery due to PT exercises and pants fit differently so I think I may have lost an inch on waist/legs but I've never tracked for this.
I still need to lose about 40 pounds as this will put less stress on my back but I can't do the sports/activities I used to do when I was in my 20's/early 30's (I am 40 now).
I think having surgery is the option only when you have exhausted all other options and the pain is too much to live with. I had tried PT, injections, and traction which did not work.
One mistake I made after first surgery was I think I did too much too soon. I started cleaning the house and other normal things but these were too much for me. I have a genetic flaw where 2 of my 3 siblings have had same issue and have had to have surgery also.
I am thinking of looking for a new bed as my current mattress (Tempurpedic) is hard to move around in and not as comfortable as advertised. Plus in retains your body heat which makes me sweat making in hard to move around on sweaty sheets.
Hi Nora, I was just wondering if you considered acupuncture for pain relief and treatment of sciatica. I have it right now on my left side. Initially the pain was manageable but I couldnt walk properly. Had about 8 sessions of acupuncture and I was painfree and was able to walk normally. So mch so that I (like you) went back to normal duties earlier than I should have and the sciatica came back with a vengeance am continuing with acupuncture which seems to help so i thought I might suggest it to you even though this post is old.
Please talk to your doctor about Celebrex 200mg. I had the exact same and I mean the exact same issue you are describing for yourself. I was on Darvocet, Vicodin and dilaudid until my doctor got mad at my other doctor for prescribing narcotics and got me on Celebrex. I was able to, until my surgery, take 1 Celebrex once a DAY. No longer on narcotics, Celebrex was the dream drug. It's a very effective and efficient NSAID. you'll still know it's there but the pain should go to a 1. Narcotics only mask the pain, they don't do anything. An NSAID reduces swelling of your disc pushing on your nerve. Please see if you can take it.