I have spent many years living with sciatic nerve pain and let me tell you it’s no picnic. Today, I want to walk through my daily battle with lower back pain and share some things I have learned over the years. If you struggle with sciatica as I do, please keep reading.
Living with sciatic nerve pain
This all started for me in 1999 as a very active 26-year-old. I started to feel tingling and numbness down my right leg in the calf area. I went to the doctor as the pain kept getting worse. After months and months of trying different treatment options including physical therapy, pain killers, and cortisone injections, nothing worked. I was left with surgery as my final option.
Now, I had never experienced any kind of injury like this in my life. I never broke my arm or broke my leg like a lot of kids do growing up, okay, I had a couple of sprained ankles from playing soccer, but nothing that would require surgery.
I also have to say that I had never in my life experienced pain like this before. So when the doctor told me that surgery could relieve my pain and I could get on with my life, I was in. Regrettably, I went under the knife. I did some good years after surgery where I was pain-free, but then it all started up again. The shooting pain down my leg.
Over the years, I have had many instances of sciatic nerve pain, to the point that walking was extremely painful. I needed help with simple tasks like getting dressed. Brushing my teeth was even hard because I could not bend over the sink.
In 2011 I re-injured my back and this was the first time in my life when I actually felt and heard something “pop”. This was kind of a big deal. I went to pick up my daughter who was 5 at the time and there it went, a disc in my lower back.
I went to a back pain clinic and they gave me painkillers and set me up with physical therapy. We tried x-ray guided cortisone shots, no luck. The pain I was experiencing was worse than I had before, much worse. Once again surgery was presented as my final option. I didn’t want to have another surgery and I was willing to deal with the pain.
During this time in my life, there the pain shooting down my leg was so intense that I had trouble walking from the parking lot at work to my desk. A simple trip to the grocery store caused me great pain. This went on for 16 months, not all days were excruciating, but a lot of them were. I had to figure out ways that would not set off the pain triggers.
People just don’t understand
Unless you have experienced sciatic nerve pain for yourself, it’s hard for other people to understand what you are going through. The pain is sometimes so intense that getting dressed, or picking something up off the floor is not an option. I have had pain that radiates all the way down my toes. Simple tasks become very difficult to do.
Watch my pain triggers
Over the years, I have developed a pretty good idea what will trigger my sciatic nerve pain. I try to avoid lifting heavy objects by myself. I am so used to doing a lot of the heavy lifting around my house, etc. that this has been a pretty big adjustment for me.
When I do have to lift heavy or awkward items, I keep them as close to my body as I can. I try not to use the “taking the turkey out of the oven” motion, where I lift objects out in front of my body. When I bend down to pick something up off the floor, I kneel down using a lunge motion, this helps to keep my spine neutral and avoid triggering my sciatic nerve.
Use my inversion table
I love hanging out on my inversion table! This is one of my go-to methods of getting some pain relief. I have been using an inversion table for years and this definitely helps me out. I typically use about a 60-degree angle and hang out for about 5 minutes. If not every day, I do this several times per week.
I have gotten smarter
Okay, I think this is debatable LOL. What I mean here, is that when I start to feel pain, I take it easy. If I have spent the day doing yard work, or other physical labor and I feel the tingling start, I will lay down for a while, even lay on an ice pack because sometimes that helps with inflammation. Anyway, I have figured out ways to manage my pain, rather than just plowing through it and making things worse. Work smarter, not harder as they say.
Conclusion: Living with sciatic nerve pain
I know that sciatic nerve pain can be hard to live with. Unfortunately, there is not a single solution that will work for all people, everyone is different.
I do know in my experience that managing the pain and avoiding my known triggers are a good start. I have had to make adjustments to the way I do things because of my back problems. I kind of wish I would have figured these things out many years ago.
Thank you for taking some time to stop by today. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
As always, you can contact me directly too.