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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


[QUOTE=Erika4785]My mother is in an extreme amount of pain. She had a herniated disc in her back, which led to ciatic nerve pain in her lower back and down her right leg. She was prescribed pain medication, but she still feels incredible pain. One doctor suggested surgery, and two other doctors told her that it would heal itself. Does anyone have any suggestions or know of anything else she can do?[/QUOTE]

Hi Erika and welcome :wave:

Have your mom ice her back as often as possible. For 20 minutes then wait an hour, then 20 minutes w/ice then off for an hour, etc. until she is good and numb. STOP SITTING. That is the BIGGEST pain inducer for us spineys (that's what we call ourselves). It won't heal itself. Maybe if she were in her early 20's and in great shape and stuff....yeah. But no....she is waaaay too busy to let her back heal itself. Nope. What they call "non-invasive" surgery could be an option for her. She may be a candidate for a nucleoplasty. If the hernia is contained....that may be for her. I believe that is the best of the surgeries out there for herniated disks. Also for tears. It's now good for that too (instead of the IDET).

Many times a herniated disk begins to stress out the disk walls causing a tear. The nucleus leaking out can be one of the causes of her sciatic pain. If sharp and burning (like on fire)....then she may have this problem as well (especially if the DRs let her hernia go on and on without treatment). They may want to start her on injections. Just make sure they are done right--with a fluoroscopy & with her in the prone position (semi-fetal). All too often DRs give their patients an epidural "shot" like they were having a baby.....no no no.

PT or physical therapy may help your mom. Find a good one and work with them. They will help her strengthen all the muscles around her injured area and will teach her how to cope without stressing out other body parts (so if hurt on the right...she won't lean on the left and end of hurting that side too)---see?

She also needs some good sleep. I have never met a sciatic sufferer who has had a good nights sleep since the onslaught of this terrible trauma...not until it has been fixed. Work on getting sleep for your mom...as that is the ONLY time our body can actually mend itself. While awake, it is too busy keeping us moving with the onslaught of daily life (stress, pollution, colds, emotions, etc.).

Here are some gadgets your mom MUST get for herself. None of them will be a "cure" for her. But all of them combined will make her life so much better. At the end of a day, she will have energy left to enjoy a moment of quiet... instead of sitting or pacing or laying there for hours all in a quandry of what life is going to happen next and how much more pain must she endure?
(1) Reachers/Grabbers. These are a must. Can be found at any Medical Supply Store.
(2) TushCush. A MUST. I don't go anywhere without it. My sciatic was down my right side as well, this special pillow all but eliminates the "charley-horse" pain that runs down the leg when in full bloom.
(3) Get a carpet sweeper. If she is like most moms...she can't stand the mess her house has become. A sweeper will save her back 100-fold and will give her a better frame of mind knowing at least the top layer of dirt is taken care of (hehe).
(4) Get someone to do her grocery shopping for her once a week. Grocery shopping is a killer for bad backs. So is laundry and doing the dishes and vacuuming. Those specific activities are our enemies and the more of those chores she can be relieved of....the LESS pain she will experience.
(5) When she does rest her back...it is NOT to be on the floor or a couch. A lift chair or a good bed are the best for the back. Uninterrupted quiet for 20 minutes (with ice) will get her back on her feet the fastest. Pillows should be as follows when laying in bed:
ON HER BACK: Small pillow under neck, maybe a hand towel under the small of back for comfort. A large pillow under her knees. Keep legs straight ahead (don't let them fall to the sides).
ON HER TUMMY: No pillow under head. Small pillow under hips and medium pillow under shins. Arms under chin so she can breath and "pillow" her head without cranking it up (like a pillow will do).
ON HER SIDE (LEFT): Put 2 medium pillows in between legs (one under knee and one under ankle)--or one long pillow to cover both areas. A hand towel rolled for your waist may be helpful if feeling sick to stomach. A small or medium pillow to support your head (for comfort).
THE IDEA HERE IS TO ALIGN THE BACK WITH PILLOWS AS SUPPORT...DO WHATEVER WORKS FOR HER. She will fidget several times at first until she finds her "sweet" spot.

I hope some of this helps her out. Make sure she sees someone who will listen to her issues and help her. Don't stop until she finds relief. Research and read, they are the only weapons us spineys have....knowledge. God luck to you and her. She is lucky to have you.
[QUOTE=successtory]Hi Erika and welcome :wave:

Have your mom ice her back as often as possible. For 20 minutes then wait an hour, then 20 minutes w/ice then off for an hour, etc. until she is good and numb. STOP SITTING. That is the BIGGEST pain inducer for us spineys (that's what we call ourselves). It won't heal itself. Maybe if she were in her early 20's and in great shape and stuff....yeah. But no....she is waaaay too busy to let her back heal itself. Nope. What they call "non-invasive" surgery could be an option for her. She may be a candidate for a nucleoplasty. If the hernia is contained....that may be for her. I believe that is the best of the surgeries out there for herniated disks. Also for tears. It's now good for that too (instead of the IDET).

Many times a herniated disk begins to stress out the disk walls causing a tear. The nucleus leaking out can be one of the causes of her sciatic pain. If sharp and burning (like on fire)....then she may have this problem as well (especially if the DRs let her hernia go on and on without treatment). They may want to start her on injections. Just make sure they are done right--with a fluoroscopy & with her in the prone position (semi-fetal). All too often DRs give their patients an epidural "shot" like they were having a baby.....no no no.

PT or physical therapy may help your mom. Find a good one and work with them. They will help her strengthen all the muscles around her injured area and will teach her how to cope without stressing out other body parts (so if hurt on the right...she won't lean on the left and end of hurting that side too)---see?

She also needs some good sleep. I have never met a sciatic sufferer who has had a good nights sleep since the onslaught of this terrible trauma...not until it has been fixed. Work on getting sleep for your mom...as that is the ONLY time our body can actually mend itself. While awake, it is too busy keeping us moving with the onslaught of daily life (stress, pollution, colds, emotions, etc.).

Here are some gadgets your mom MUST get for herself. None of them will be a "cure" for her. But all of them combined will make her life so much better. At the end of a day, she will have energy left to enjoy a moment of quiet... instead of sitting or pacing or laying there for hours all in a quandry of what life is going to happen next and how much more pain must she endure?
(1) Reachers/Grabbers. These are a must. Can be found at any Medical Supply Store.
(2) TushCush. A MUST. I don't go anywhere without it. My sciatic was down my right side as well, this special pillow all but eliminates the "charley-horse" pain that runs down the leg when in full bloom.
(3) Get a carpet sweeper. If she is like most moms...she can't stand the mess her house has become. A sweeper will save her back 100-fold and will give her a better frame of mind knowing at least the top layer of dirt is taken care of (hehe).
(4) Get someone to do her grocery shopping for her once a week. Grocery shopping is a killer for bad backs. So is laundry and doing the dishes and vacuuming. Those specific activities are our enemies and the more of those chores she can be relieved of....the LESS pain she will experience.
(5) When she does rest her back...it is NOT to be on the floor or a couch. A lift chair or a good bed are the best for the back. Uninterrupted quiet for 20 minutes (with ice) will get her back on her feet the fastest. Pillows should be as follows when laying in bed:
ON HER BACK: Small pillow under neck, maybe a hand towel under the small of back for comfort. A large pillow under her knees. Keep legs straight ahead (don't let them fall to the sides).
ON HER TUMMY: No pillow under head. Small pillow under hips and medium pillow under shins. Arms under chin so she can breath and "pillow" her head without cranking it up (like a pillow will do).
ON HER SIDE (LEFT): Put 2 medium pillows in between legs (one under knee and one under ankle)--or one long pillow to cover both areas. A hand towel rolled for your waist may be helpful if feeling sick to stomach. A small or medium pillow to support your head (for comfort).
THE IDEA HERE IS TO ALIGN THE BACK WITH PILLOWS AS SUPPORT...DO WHATEVER WORKS FOR HER. She will fidget several times at first until she finds her "sweet" spot.

I hope some of this helps her out. Make sure she sees someone who will listen to her issues and help her. Don't stop until she finds relief. Research and read, they are the only weapons us spineys have....knowledge. God luck to you and her. She is lucky to have you.[/QUOTE]
Oh my gosh! This is one of the best posts I have ever read! You suggestions will help many! Including myself! I have L2/L3 herniation with L3 nerveroot touching. I am scheduled for PED surgery (percutaneous endoscopic discectomy) on December 12th. You are very right about never have met a sciatic nerve patient who has had a restful nite sleeping. I just hate to go to bed at nite because I toss and turn so much and get maybe 1 hour of sleep a nite. I am so tired the next day but no rest. I didnt know if ice or heat was the proper therapy but I am going to try ice like you suggested. Also, I will try the positioning of the pillows as you suggested. I am 53 years old and the pain down my leg is so rough! Also lately I have had terrific pain in my right groin area and pelvic area but the nerveroot is to the left so go figure! Thanks again Successtory!
I had a herniated disk at L5. I too also suffered from sciatic pain and burning sensations down my left leg. I ended up having the disk operated on. Just the removal of the ruptured matter. My surgery was a success while it lasted but a few months later, the disk reruptured and so did the one above it, L4.

At that point I was left with TWO herniated disks. I spent years dealing with pain and periodic back spasms that would incapacitate me for days at a time but in general, I think I did okay for myself. I guess you just learn to live with the pain and deal with it on a daily basis.

It's been 10 years since my original back surgery. My last MRI, which was last year, showed that my two herniated disks were no longer herniated. Contrary to what some people will tell you, they actually CAN heal themselves. I was told the ruptured matter will reabsorb itself back into the body. I suppose I am proof of that but I admit, I'm probably an exception to the rule. I don't work, therefore I am able to rest when I feel back fatigue, I'm very careful and am lucky enough to have a great husband that can take on the heavy duty jobs around the house. I still enjoy gardening, raking the leaves and I can lift heavy object, but I'm very careful doing it. :)





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