Sciatica - Treatment 

Treating sciatica 

Exercises for sciatica: spinal stenosis

In this video a physiotherapist demonstrates gentle exercises for spinal stenosis, a form of sciatica. This video is part of a series on exercises for sciatica.

Media last reviewed: 02/07/2013

Next review due: 02/07/2015

Watch more videos of exercises for sciatica...

Degenerative disc disease

Herniated or slipped disc

Piriformis syndrome

Most cases of acute sciatica can be treated at home with painkillers. Chronic sciatica usually requires a combination of self-help techniques and medical treatment.

Treating short-term sciatica

Painkillers

Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers are usually effective in relieving pain. Painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are thought to work best.

NSAIDs may not be suitable if you have asthma, high blood pressure, liver disease, heart disease or a history of stomach and digestive disorders. In these circumstances, paracetamol is likely to be a more suitable painkiller for you. Your GP or pharmacist will be able to advise you.

If OTC painkillers are not effective in relieving your pain, your GP may prescribe a mild opiate-based painkiller, such as codeine, or if your symptoms are very severe, a muscle relaxant such as diazepam.

Diazepam has the potential to be habit-forming, so your GP will not usually prescribe more than a seven-day course of the medication.

Exercise

If you have sciatica, it is important for you to remain as physically active as possible. While bed rest may provide some temporary pain relief, prolonged bed rest may be unnecessary. Recommended exercises include walking and gentle stretching exercises.

If you have had to take time off work due to sciatica, you should aim to return to work as soon as possible.

Read more about how exercise can help to prevent sciatica.

Compression packs

Many people find that using either hot or cold compression packs helps to reduce pain. You can make your own cold compression pack by wrapping a pack of frozen peas in a towel. Hot compression packs are usually available from larger pharmacies. You may find it effective to use one type of pack followed by the other.

Treating persistent sciatica

Persistent (chronic) sciatica usually requires a combination of self-help techniques and medical treatment. Treatment options are outlined below.

Painkillers

The long-term use of NSAIDs as a method of controlling pain is not usually recommended because they can cause problems with your stomach and digestive system, such as ulcers or internal bleeding.

If you need pain relief over a long time, the painkillers listed below may be used:

  • paracetamol
  • codeine (paracetamol is often prescribed in combination with codeine)
  • a tricyclic antidepressant, such as amitriptyline
  • gabapentin for neuropathic pain (where nerves are thought to be inflamed), or, in capsules, a similar drug called pregabalin

Amitriptyline was originally designed to treat depression but doctors have now found it is also useful for treating nerve pain.

Gabapentin was originally designed to prevent seizures in people with epilepsy. However, like amitriptyline, it has been found to be useful for treating nerve pain.

Do not suddenly stop taking gabapentin as you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, nausea, pain and sweating. If you want to stop taking gabapentin or no longer need to take it, your GP will arrange for your dose to be slowly reduced over the course of a week so you do not experience withdrawal symptoms.

Injection of a corticosteroid

If other methods of pain relief have not worked, your GP may refer you to a specialist for an epidural steroid injection. This delivers strong anti-inflammatory medication directly to the inflamed area around the nerves of your spine. This should release the pressure on your sciatic nerve and reduce your pain.

Exercise and physiotherapy

You should also try to remain as physically active as possible with persistent sciatica because this will reduce the severity of your symptoms. It is also recommended that you continue to work or return to work as soon as possible.

Regular exercise will help to strengthen the muscles that support your back. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkilling chemicals.

Your GP may recommend a suitable exercise plan for you or refer you to a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can teach you a range of exercises that strengthen the muscles that support your back and improve the flexibility of your spine. They can also teach you how to improve your posture and reduce any future strain on your back.

Read more information about physiotherapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Some studies have shown that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help in the management of chronic pain that is caused by sciatica.

CBT is based on the principle that the way we feel is partly dependent on the way we think about things. Research has shown that people who train themselves to react differently to their pain, by using relaxation techniques and maintaining a positive attitude, show a decrease in the levels of pain that they experience.

They are also more likely to remain active and take exercise, further reducing the severity of their symptoms.

Read more about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Surgery

Surgery may be an option to treat cases of chronic sciatica when:

  • there is an identifiable cause, such as a slipped or herniated disc
  • the symptoms have not responded to other forms of treatment
  • the symptoms are getting progressively worse

The type of surgery that will be recommended for you will depend on the cause of your sciatica. Some surgical options include:

  • discectomy – where the part of the herniated disc pressing on your nerve is removed (this is the most common type of surgery required)
  • fusion surgery – if a vertebra has slipped out of place, it may be possible to fuse it into place using a bone graft supported by metal rods
  • laminectomy – a procedure often used to treat spinal stenosis, this removes or trims the arch of a vertebra to relieve the pressure on the nerves

Many people have a positive result from surgery, but as with all surgical procedures, spinal surgery carries some risks. There is a risk of infection and of the surgery failing, and a low risk that your spinal nerves will be damaged during surgery. This could result in muscle weakness.

Before opting for spinal surgery, your surgeon will discuss the relative risks and benefits with you.

Read about lumbar decompressive surgery for more information on spinal surgery.

Page last reviewed: 15/08/2012

Next review due: 15/08/2014

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Comments

The 44 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

mikemorone said on 25 August 2014

I first experienced severe leg pain fifteen years ago. After six months of numerous doctors, MRIs, and X-rays focusing on my leg, I finally found a doctor who diagnosed sciatica. He recommended an epidural steroid injection. It was an anesthesiologist who administered the shot, and it brought relief within two hours.

Over fifteen years, I have required four of these injections. They aren't cheap ($1600 including hospital charges), and I understand that they don't work for everyone. But if you have suffered like I did, please explore the epidural. For me and others, it is like a miracle. Good luck to you all.

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Jackfrost said on 05 June 2014

Youngman28 - you need o read up on Piriformis Syndrome. I went to the r's with the same symptoms as you - the pain on sitting, getting up etc and it has been diagnosed (eventually) as Piriformis Syndrome which is treatable with stretching exercises. Have a read up on it and good luck

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libertyfaith said on 25 April 2014

I've had problems for a few years on and off. I've always been active, zumba and dance. But since Christmas i havent been able to do anything. A mixture of a change in time for zumba and for work as left me not able to go.I live in france, (xpat) and its very quite here, very little to do. I've been in what i would call bad pain (8/10) like cramp down my right side, from my buttacks to my knee, then modrate pain to my ankle. I found out that i have atheritus in my back L4 S1. I can't keep seeing the docter as its to expencive. i can't take codine, and masarge seems to work until i start to walk. I'm 41 and i really can't cope any more, i have my children to run around and i just don't feel i can. Any idea's to help me pls.

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User863461 said on 09 April 2014

To youngman28, ask to see a pain clinic and then ask if you are suitable for a epidural injection in your back. If you are your problem will be gone. I have had sciatica for 3 years and have had 2 injections and the pain goes away almost immediately.My pain was so bad I couldn't stand up for more than 2 minutes at a time and walking was terrible. I had to sleep sitting up as laying down on was agony.
Please don't waste your money on a chiropractor as in my experience that might make the problem worse.

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youngman28 said on 19 March 2014

It all started without a notice, dont ever remember how back in October 2013. At first it was a pain I felt when was sitting and trying to stand.. Nowadays and nearly for a month the pain is terrible! I really feel simpathetic for everyone with Sciatica. It is the strongest 24/7 constant pain i ever experienced. Reading that some people have this for 10 year... makes me wanna cry or break the leg. I will try to go to chiroplast next week to see what he can do. I feel ok when I walk and I can even run, but when I lie on the bed or sleeping its terrible. Wish us all a quick recovery.x

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vanilla7986 said on 09 March 2014

I have had back , neck pain since 2012
started with sciatica around 6 months later and had it ever since
the pain strength alters but recently always present
some days worse than others
went back tk Drs as physio did not help and he referred me to who I thought was a specialist dept but turned out to be another physio who did nothing apart from adk questions and in the end tell me there is nothing they can do gor me17 months since my injury and still suffering greatly
felt let down being told no more they can do
haven't even been offered any scans just more meds which is not what I what to do

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siatica problems said on 23 October 2013

My mum has had siatica nw for 3weeks (chronic) ppl say this isnt an illlness when clearly think it is there should be more help for ppl wit these problems SIATICA has to b highlighted more

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beatfromthesun said on 03 October 2013

If you want to get rid of Sciatica, no matter how severe, you need to completely change your lifestyle - you can only help yourself people. all the best.

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tc101 said on 02 October 2013

Had sciatica 15 years ago. Wasted a fortune on private treatment while waiting for NHS Physio. Straight into Physio, few stretches instant relief. Pain came back 2 years ago, mild and manageable picked up my son and rotated badly. Did not want to take paracetamol all the time referred to Physio again on NHS 10 weeks discharged could not help.
Now worse pain ever since weekend, likely to be Piriformis, seeing a muscle therapist while waiting for Doc and hopefully referral to Specislist and MRI. Prescibed various drugs

For me, if you can not straighten your back etanding up this helped me.

I am not a doctor.
This is very very painful!
Painful as this might be, lay on bed not floor, massage yourself into position so both sides of hips are on the bed, this is excruiating, face down hands by sides, breathe in heavily and out let tense go and relax through pain. This will settle, massage buttocks lower back whilst on front and lift legs up and down slowly several times. Put legs flat and gently thrust hips into bed back and forth push hard and back raise buttocks slighty mwrginally increase depth of push and push harder. Do this 15mins and pain resided for me. Get to your feet, hold up head shoulders back and you should with little pain straighten your back.

BLISS Walking around.

Mow the bad news, if you sit down again it may hurt and the muscle/nerve resets over time as you get comfy sitting. Best stay active and on your feet most of the day.

It is likely you will have to repeat this after sleeping on your back/side. Tonight I am bearing the pain and sleeping on front and see any results to stand tomorrow.

Hope this helps.


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multicolour said on 02 April 2013

Post note ..on the same day 2 years ago that I ended up in A and E here in France with severe Sciatica pains. Also in A and E was a male friend! They were operated on the next day as an emergency. Sciatica is a symptom..its not the route..the illness more than often is due to slipped or ruptured spinal discs..so doctors reaching just for the prescription pad! No! insist they check you..my friend was scanned and operated on straight away-you can in unlucky instances actually become paralysed if the disc compresses in the wrong place..so dont leave it to chance.

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multicolour said on 02 April 2013

I have my old friend Sciatica back again..been nearly 2 years pain free but about to go in to hospital to get my gallbladder removed..I wonder if part of a general arthritus all of it. So here is my story and see if this helps. Two years ago-went twice to A and E here in Central france. Each time luckily saw the same doctor who did Chiropratic manipulations and first time it worked. 2nd time..I prompted him about a scan. He then suggested a scan. Low and behold on the scan-one totally eroded disc (special thanks to my NHS doctor UK who ignored my prev requests to check my back-years of stiffness and pain-and already on an xray found arthritic neck). Doliprane out of all the painkillers worked the best. Cant take codiene ones as make me sick. What really worked and what am off to do this afternoon-is a massage specialist. Its the nerve that is compressed that gives the pain..so massage-last time this struck had 2 hours massage session. It was the only thing that finally worked. After that mild exercise..very painful but have to in short walks or you go totally stiff. I'm in my late 40's so its not funny. Off late investigating the possibility that diet plays a role..look up research on starch intolerance.

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RBKB78 said on 20 March 2013

Ive had sciatica on and off for years, the only things ive found to work are to keep moving, although gently, heat on the area, of all things my husbands heated seats in his car were great! And reflexology - i had 4 treatments all within a week and then 1 a month. If it flares up i then book 3 or 4 in again close together and then back to 1 a month, hope this helps.

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Archie844 said on 17 February 2013

Hello – just stumbled across this forum and feel at home with a lot of posters. I haven’t yet identified the root cause of my Sciatica other than that what the doctor called it – therefore it is. Four days ago I had a difficult customer (I’m a taxi driver) who attempted to open the doors on the M57 near Liverpool at 70MPH. Hours later I developed this incredible pain in the lower spine region which resulted in me needing to get a replacement driver as I couldn’t turn the wheel. The following day I had an emergency appt with my GP who simply diagnosed Sciatica, gave me 30 days 30/500 co-codamol and 7 days 2mg Diazepam, referred me for an emergency x-ray and potential MRI if needed. After an uncomfortable night’s sleep I woke to what can only be described as the worst pain I’ve experienced in 48 years no position was anything less than excruciating other than flat on my back, ashamed to admit it but I cried like a baby. NHS Direct despatched an ambulance and after a short wait in Aintree hospital they agreed with the GP – but upped the Diazepam to 5mg. Three days later I’m still experiencing horrible pain but can drive (with care), sitting and resting for even 10 minutes is followed by a compulsory stretch to combat any discomfort. I’ve read a lot on most forums and see the varied levels of pain but am damn determined to not let this rule me. I’m self employed for a start and am an active member of a marching band which I love dearly. You all have my sympathy with this condition you really do.

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Disillusioned38 said on 10 December 2012

In response to MrsValoJones' comment, I have been suffering with sciatica for just over 5 months now and am now hobbling about on crutches as I can't walk more than a few yards on my own. After 13 wks of agony, lack of interest from my doctor & several different types of painkillers I decided to swap to another local medical practice. Thankfully, my new doctor showed interest, & as most of my pain was in my right hip she referred me straight to an hip & knee specialist. He did x-rays, which showed that my hip was perfectly fine, but he did comment that my pelvis is more flexed than it should be (not surprising after being almost bent double for 13 wks)...but he did send me for an MRI, which they were unable to do as I am unable to lie on my back with my legs straight, so he has written back to my doctor & advised that I be referred to a spinal consultant, which my doctor has done...My advice would be to change to a new medical practice, or demand that your doctor send you to a specialist (legally they are obliged to do as you request), the consultants are the ones able to refer you for MRI's. I am 38yrs old & at the moment, my parents aged 73 & 75 have more energy & mobility than I do. Also advise your doctor that due to lack of mobility due to the sciatica, that losing weight is even harder than normal...I am also on a diet, & am currently 16st 11lbs. Good luck, I hope they start to sort something out for you. Good luck also to everyone else who is being ignored by the NHS, you can demand a further investigation, don't be intimidated by your GP's.

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MrsValoJones said on 09 December 2012

my doctor told me i had sciatica and gave me paracetomal,which didnt seem to work,tbh i feel like my doctor has no interest in her patients,she just prescribes drugs to keep you quiet.she prescribed me 100 30/500 mg codeine when she is well aware that my mum has a abuse problem and we live together.my mum actually went to the doctors this week and told her that she was having suicidal thoughts,and our doctor just upped her dosage of anit-depressants.
the pain in my lower back is so bad it wakes me at night,i cant sit or lie down for too long,i get really bad pins and needles.im only 23 and i feel like an old lady!
does anyone have any tips on exercise that would help?
my doctor said i had sciatica because i am overweight,but didnt tell me of any exercise that would help.

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HillyTilly said on 21 November 2012

I had a brain haemorrhage in 1983 and a craniotomy and clip. The notes were destroyed and so no one knows whether the clip was made of ferrous metal. If it was and I have an MRI the effect would be to liquidize my brain.
So I can't have an MRI. I had a slipped disc in 1969 and again in 1973 and I definitely have osteoarthritis but it doesn't make any difference - no treatment. I can't take anti-inflammatories because I have asthma, hypertension, and a heart condition so I have to take codeine and I have to live with the sciatica and consequent mobility problems.
I sometimes feel quite depressed!! Most GP s don't seem to have any idea what it's like to have constant pain and they don't appear to know how to treat it. Training required!

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welshbeauty said on 30 September 2012

am now suffering pain of chronic siaticia ,3rd bout since 2003 and the worst so far finally had mri scan last week now awaiting results after 8 years ,of asking my dr for one finally got success from a female dr who was very symphathetic to my agony,work for nhs no support at all was virtually accused of being a malinger of playing at being sick by occupational health only beacuase im on full ,pay and have been off for 6 weeks ,not slleping properly pain running between both legs and back pain plus inflammation and muscle spasms in legs,employer must think i love the agony of siaticia ,have had 2 children would rahter go through the pain of childbirth ,less pain with that siaticia is like a thousand razors slowly cutting at your legs and back in so much pain ive nearly been reduced to tears,am 46 years of age ,in chronic pain but on seeing occupational health the nurse reckons i can come back to work for light duties ,all she was concerned about was that im outn full pay and my dr also stated this to me after she recieved the letter from her,she was quite disgusted,this is the support you get when you are sick with chronic siaticia zero support,who would choose to have this agony

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11235 said on 30 September 2012

Grateful for the first comment. I developed sciatic pain immediately after a half lotus posture, which is associated with piriformis problems. I now have a strong clue as to why it developed, which a GP could never have diagnosed. Many thanks.

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Disillusioned38 said on 28 September 2012

I have been suffering with sciatica now for 11 wks and am in awful pain all day and have very limited mobility, to the point where I can only walk about 30yds, and my doctors do nothing!

I have been to see 3 different doctors at my local practice and each one has just asked me for symptoms and then said 'yes, sciatica' and promptly given me a prescription for pain killers (usually with bad side effects) but 11wks later and the pain is worse, my mobility is still as restricted and the physio I started 8wks ago hasn't helped at all, in fact it's made things worse so I've given up doing the home exercises.

The pain is always constant, so I have been looking on the internet for remedies and exercises to help myself (if the nhs isn't going to i'll just have to do it myself). I have today come across a possible reason for my pain, and yes it is sciatica, but it's cause may not be a slipped disc as suspected, but a small muscle in my hip called piriformis...this muscle is small but when it becomes tense and irritated it can affect the sciatic nerve...I have read the symptoms and they all match what I am feeling.

I have had sciatica before, but this time the range of motion in my right hip is severely restricted and painful if twisted or flexed and the muscle from my hip to my calf is solid to touch and aches, almost like having constant cramp! If you have tensed muscles as well as the sciatica, take a look at Piriformis Syndrome...I will certainly be contacting my doctor regarding it!! Good luck to everyone.

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darkedge3 said on 02 September 2012

Eileen, and others

I know exactly how you all feel...

I had a ruptured disc about 3 years ago, after doing squats at a gym class where the instructor just said the pain was nothing unusual. ..

Alas, my instincts were correct and something was wrong.. later I realised that it has ruptured, as it was when i got home that the 'disc contents' actually touched the nerve and gave me the first 'electric' pain that we all know about... I leaped out of my chair in agony and was terrified as to what had happened...

Anyway, post MRI, and 3 years later, the pain would be best described as sciatica.

My post is really to say that there are 3 things that have helped me immensely, and are the only source of relief...

1) See a good osteopath - any misalignment in your body will amplify any underlying problems.. and trust me, most peoples spine is misaligned to some degree

2) Stretch... Stretch often, and stretch properly..

Lye on the floor and arch your back upwards, then invert..

3) Exercise.. A strong body is much better at keeping things in balance, and staving off the pain and trouble


5) Posture

Everyone can improve their posture throughout the day. be careful how you sit, not to slouch, and even when you walk, push your weight onto the balls of your feet and you'll notice you pull your shoulders back naturally to compensate, and this improves the curvature of your spine.

These are the top things that work for me to manage the pain...

Good luck

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eileen k said on 09 August 2012

i am confined to the house because of pain, not yet officially diagnosed with sciatica, but i have terrible pain in both buttocks that the shoots up my back and down my legs like electric shocks. this makes me shout out then hot and then feel sick, can you imagine this happening in the middle of asda. i have read a lot of your comments but few of you have discovered a cure, so i will do what i always do in these circumstances. Pray. the powers that be have been able to ind cures for most things these days even some cancers but unfortunately not sciatica. i wish you all well hoping each one of you will get relief soon. god bless. eileenk.

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penwithchris said on 09 July 2012

Having read all the above comments I feel it is very disappointing that well paid health specialists are seemingly unable to improve the lives of individuals like myself who have suffered debilitating leg and foot pain for several years.
I have spent a considerable amount of money over the years trying to obtain a) a proper diagnosis of my condition and b) medical help to improve my condition
'Keep taking the tablets' is the only advice I have been given (co-codamol in conjuction with ibuprofen and gabapentin) They do nothing to ease the pain and discomfort although 4 gabapentin at bedtime do help me to sleep. 25 years gone since the problems began and maybe another 30 years ahead of the same depressing regime.
The Pain Consultant suggested it might be shingles, the Orthopaedic Consultant thought it could be diabetes etc etc
The finest consultant I have approached, and by far the cheapest, is Google. A distillation of all the comments of all the sufferers has led me to believe I am suffering from sciatica!! It is a condition that has never been suggested to me by my GP or by the various Consultants I have seen.
As a result I have begun to feel very much better. I am now more in control of the condition and can start to try out some of the recommended remedies that fellow sufferers have put forward. So tonight, when I nearly hit the ceiling as sharp pains shoot up from my left foot to my left breast, I can, almost cheerfully, shout 'It's that sciatica again'
Good luck everyone - remember 'strength in numbers'

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BellevueBoy84 said on 06 June 2012

Hi,
I suffer from pain on my left side, from hip/pelvis down.
I believe it may have stemmed from an injury a couple years ago. I had a really bad spell june/july last year. Saw chiropractor, physio, Doctor but all had different opinions on what it was/is. Also no one i have seen so far has suggested any of the therapies i have read about on this page.
I have managed to maintain my work life (Gardener) for the past 6months or so just by stretching etc but now I am going through another spell and If i dont work i dont make money.
Compared to most other cases I have read about on this page I seem to be lucky but still doesnt help when i do get a bad spell of pain.
When its bad I basically cant put any pressure on my left leg. So walking is a no go, and exercising is obviously difficult.
Stretching definitely does help but I still havnt managed to work out what stretches are best for my specific problem.
I used to be active and flexible. Im only 27 and dont want to put up with this for rest of my life.

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CaroK said on 06 June 2012

In 2004 I had an emergency discectomy after suffering a herniated disc which compressed my spinal chord and cut off all feeling and function below the waist. I had suffered no trauma to my back and was told it was likely to be the result of 'wear and tear' - I was 36 then and had been suffering from fibromyalgia since age 28 so pretty inactive. The fibromyalgia came on following flu-like fever and head-to-toe pain - I did have dental treatment around this time too. Now in 2012 I am still suffering with chronic lumbar pain. However, I have just experienced a 'pain holiday' of four days whilst being on antibiotics for a UTI. This is the second time I have noticed a DRAMATIC decrease in pain while on antibiotics. Researching around on the internet led me to the various reports that the bacteria responsible for acne ( Proprionibacterium acnes) has been associated with infection at the site of a herniated disc or site of operation and that it may also enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums or following dental treatment. What I can't seem to find is the results of the various trials which were supposed to be taking place. Has anyone found the results or has anyone else experienced a 'pain holiday' while on anti-biotics?

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Rob1822 said on 19 March 2012

I had sciatica pain, after months of pestering I was given an MRI scan that showed the cause to be a synovial cyst and not a disc as was constantly assumed by my doctors, the pain eased off after about 13 months the numbness in my feet lasted about another year and now it is very slight and hardly noticeable. From what I have seen of other sufferers surgery would be a very last resort. Plenty walking helped me, after the initial ouch, ahrrgrr, oooh the pain would ease off and stay off until I sat down for more than an hour. Tried chiropractic but only made my pocket lighter, massage seemed to help but I continued to improve after I stopped going!

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debby 1 said on 23 February 2012

2.5 weeks ago i had a really bad sciatica attack as i call it and had to go to hospital pain is managable now but still have some numbness in leg but have continuous tingling in foot does anyone know how long this will last as it is affecting me walking without a crutch

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claraGeb said on 07 February 2012

I empathise. I have had sciatica for 2 years following a fall. I have defied the despair and frustration of some people not considering my problem being serious, and get up whenever I am knocked down. I have presisted in getting my GP to make referrals. Finally, seeing a neurologist was the turning point. He did an MRI which evidenced the nerve impingement at L5S1. This nerve travels down your leg and causes aches, heat, numbness, tingling, weakness and sharp pains. It was ayear before I got this diagnosis and I was miserable, sitting was agony, couldn't go to the gym or dance anymore. For the following year I purued treatment, I saw 3 physios who were all very good, but pain continued. At the 4th physio, life changed. He used the TENS machine, traction table, and manual treatment (massage at the piriformis muscle which the sciatic nerve passes through). The single most important treatment though for me, is hydrotherapy. It has changed my life. I walk into the warm water, put my noodle (tubular length of foam) under my arms and just hang. My spine decompresses and I am in relief heaven. It is a class also, and the instructor give safe safe, very gentle exercise to get mobility into the joints, and strengthen the deep tummy muscles that support the spine. It also means I can exercise, which alleviates the frustration and sadness, and helps with the weight that creeps on with heavy meds and rest. Manual therapy is wonderful, but it makes you dependent on someone else. I now depend on ME, to get to the pool and get the relief. I feel strong and hopeful. Still have pain at times, and take codeine but I know I can manage it with the strength of my own body. My other tip is the 'cobra' yoga pose, there are plenty of youtube tutorials to show you how. It can help correct the disc compression and give pain relief. Sending hopes to everyone suffering.

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david75 said on 25 January 2012

I have come across this site via a google search and I can understand the frutrations that people have. I have suffered from back pain for at least eight years and after a really bad episode back in July whist on holiday in cuba, where I could not walk I finally had a scan on the NHS. I went and saw my GP and was told to loose weight and take more exercise. I did as I was told and every couple of weeks I would have a flair up. I finally went to see another GP at the same practice who refered me to a neurosurgeon as this was the recommendation by consultant radiographer who looked at my scans. Why the first GP did not refer me is a mystery? I have now had a bad flair up since November following sneezing. I saw the nerousurgeon in December who said that I would benefit from an epiduragram and facet joint injetions. This have been done and after three days the pain returned and is far more severe. I am now on pregrabalin at the maximum dose and amatriptalyn tablets every night. This is combined with codeine and paracetamol and still suffering awful pain. I have had another MRI san that has shown a disc herniation at L5/S1 level and the same degeneration shown back in august including dehydrated discs. The report from the surgeon who did the facet joints has reviewed the scan has said that surgery woud not give me any benefit as the herniated mass is so small. I feel totally fed up and depressed as all I want to do is be pain free and go back to work to do the job that I love. I feel so depressed that no one seems to be taking my me seriously. I am going back to see the surgeon on Friday to see what he says. Luckily I have private insurance and I am able to see someone quickly. Believe me the care is no better, it is just you are seen quickly. I am desperate to be well and go back to work.

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J Higgs said on 21 January 2012

I have had sciatica for 18 months, but had back problems since I was 18, now I'm 50. Can't see me coping any longer on my 4th week off work. Tried every treatment under the sun. NHS don't seem to care because there are so many of us and waiting lists are huge. On loads of medication nothing seems to work. This started when I had an assessment at the hospital by a physio and he pulled my right leg over towards my left knee, which made myself yell with pain. He apologised after. I have explain this to the hosptial and the pain clinic what happened and they just say its something you have to live with.

Great stuff and I also work for the NHS

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mr muggins said on 01 January 2012

i had back pain, then sciatica. hospitals/doctors and examinations on and on, pills no relief. my local doctor suggested self help. i bought a book to treat my own pain. i will never look back, once you have read the information in this book you are the boss of the pain, i have been able to live, not pain free, but pain-less. it is all about posture and exercise, which once i got on top of it, only takes up a few minutes each morning whilst in bed. this is not for everyone but after visiting this site i felt it needed saying. so, look up Robin Makenzie. it also deals with sciatica, which common sense tells me, is only an extension of the back, therefore, that is where the problem lays. i hope this will help one person at least, then i wont have wasted my time joining

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jill23 said on 09 December 2011

I have had sciatica flare ups for a few years which i have managed to cope with using tablets, tens machine and hot water bottles etc. In 2005 an xray showed degenerative discs. In August I started what I thought was another bad case of sciatica but the pain was intense and totally 'head banging'. It went right down the back of my thigh, into the calf and my foot. My heel and left side of my foot went numb. At times I could not put my foot flat on the floor. At the GP she said I needed an MRI. To avoid waiting I paid for that and the consultant to give me a diagnosis of the results. I had developed a Left Sided Facet Joint cyst L5 to S1 and needed it removed and decompression. I had the op on the NHS last Saturday and I am now almost pain free. The cyst was also attached to the Dura and removal caused a tear which they also sealed. Was in Hospital for 4 days. Don't be fobbed off if your pain is severe as mine was. Demand they send you for an MRI asap. It might not be just sciatica and might need surgery as I did. My pain had taken over my life but 4 days in hospital has made me alive again.

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alanna22 said on 04 December 2011

The identification of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) as a central cause of inflammatory spinal pain now suggests the possibility of an entirely new approach to selected patients with severe pain due to disc herniation, protrusion, bulge, or disc tear. Specific and potent inhibitors of TNF became and were demonstrated to be potentially effective for treating sciatica in experimental models beginning

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Brads said on 28 November 2011

hi ive had sciatica for 6months now in back both butt cheeks and both legs, i took declofenac and co this n that they done nothin , been to osteopath twice i think they spelt his name wrong should of been psychopath, i really think he was tryin to break my back both times i almost couldnt walk for a whole week after but had to work through it as cant afford not to, for 1st 3-4 months only relief i had was layin and sittin down now that dont work, so pretty stuffed at the mo , gonna try some exercise stuff, will check back here soon , happy xmas

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littlemeg88 said on 19 November 2011

I am 23 and most people comment on how young I am to have sciatica.People talk about having 'episodes' of sciatica, but i've suffered with it every single day now for at least 12 months,I have not had a single day where I have not suffered.I originally had pain in my ankle and knee and couldn't do my usual gym sessions,I found it difficult to run.My doctor misdiagnosed achillis tendonitis and just recommend I rest it and change my gym routine but that didn't work,I then went back and was referred for physio.It was the physiotherapist who diagnosed sciatica.I had several sessions of exercise and had therapy using a tens machine.I was given exercises to do daily but nothing worked, nor did the coedine or naproxen my GP prescribed.At the end of my tether, I went back to my GP who sent me to physio again. This time I demanded they investigate further,as not only do I suffer from the physical pain but the mentail affect it's had on me.I can't do any physical activity and consequently I've gained over a stone in weight.My job as carer has been made difficult also.Now they are finally sending me for an MRI scan to find out the exact cause of my pain.I have been told they may try cortazone injections but if I have a herniated disc, they'll operate on it.Im willing to try just about anything to get rid of this awful pain and have my old life back. People don't realise how awful sciatica is because you can't physically see anything wrong with a sufferer but it is truly awful.If you have suffered for a long time like myself,i'd demand further investigation to find the cause,don't let them fob you off with exercises and painkillers because if the disc has slipped no amount of exercise and painkillers will cure that!

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Oneman said on 07 November 2011

Hi Re Sciatica,
I have had nerve pain since earlier this summer, I thought it had been brought on by hard gardening work, but looking back, the first nerve pain I had was in top and bottom jaw following an operation t remove a polop from my vocal chords, I dismissed this for a few days and eventually went to have a filling replaced which has not solved the jaw pain. Since then I have developed sciatica (yes in my leg!!) and like most of you I have been looking for a cure/pain relief. I have come across an article in the Telegraph (on-line) apparently dated 15th July 2001 by reporter Lorraine Fraser, in which she reports that Tom Elliott professor of clinical microbiology in University Hospital Edgbaston has found a link with bacterial infection amongst many of the long term sciatica sufferers.
Is this research ongoing and what is the likelyhood of it being tried on a wider basis. Surely treating this with antibiotics must be better than guessing that we all need pain killers and manipulation?
It is certainly food for thought!

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AmyTMumof2 said on 29 August 2011

Hello, I have suffered from Sciatica for many years but it has always been on/off and I have been able to cope and get on with life. Recently it took a massive turn for the worst and is now in my right buttock, leg and foot and has been the same for 12 weeks. I tried the Co Codamol and diclofenac but it made no difference to the pains in my leg. I am suffering more from the pains in my leg than anything, spasms keeping me awake and stopping me doing daily things. I had a 7 course of diazepam 2 weeks ago as I crawled into the GP after having just 1 hours sleep in the past few days. That was amazing but didnt last the night and as its highly addictive the doctor wouldnt re prescribe. I am now taking Tramadol and Gabapentin 100mg using the slow increasing method. I am on level 8 of the method today and have had 2oomg in the morning, 300mg at teatime and 300mg before bed. This will increase daily until I hopefully find a level that controls my pain. Everyday I cry at the moment I am fed up of being in pain. I work in a school and go back after the holidays next week so maybe a daily routine will help cheer me up.

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leeboy16 said on 25 August 2011

I'm in a real pickle. 10 years ago I was told I had arthritis in my lower back L4 & L5 this seriously affected my ability to move and caused bad back ache. This resulted in me being a lot less active and I piled the weight on. probably as a result of this my Sciatica came on and walking is even difficult now. My back sepcailist wont operate on me until I loose weight. I can't loose weight through excercise because its too painful even to walk over a few hundred metres. So as you can see I am in a wheel of pain and feel that there is no solution. Bad back, Sciatica, weight, can it get any worse. Missing out on goinging walking and my mountain bike is just gathering dust. Talk about fed up. Used to have injections but because I am heavy they don't like doing that now because you have to lay on your front. Excuse after excuse not to help me, all the while I am getting less mobile at 45 feel like I'm ready for the knackers yard lol.

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pollyo said on 11 August 2011

Hi Everyone
I'm 5 weeks into an episode of acute sciatic and this is how I'm coping with it. Taking Co-drydamol during the day and Co-codamol at bedtime (it makes me too drowsy during the day). Having chiropractor treatment, so far 5 sessions and can now feel like my foot belongs to me as the pain has receeded from it. I'm also icing my lower back (right side as it is my right leg affected). Use a flexible ice pack (I bought mine at the chiropractor, don't know if Boots stock them) or make one using frozen peas or sweetcorn in a plastic bag wrapped in a thin tea towel. Apply to lower back on the side of the pain 10-15 minutes on 10-15 minutes off for as long as you can take it each session. Can do it as many times during the day as you want to/can cope with. The ice reduces the internal swelling. Heat will only make you feel better but won't help as much. I've also had some aromotherapy massages, these are nice and relaxing which helps a little but aren't a cure. This is the third time I have had this problem. In the past I had a steriod inject into the spine which really did help as it was 14 years before I had the problem again. If this is offered to you I'd say have it. The acutal injection doesn't hurt but you do get a bit of pain a while later for a short while but not as bad as the sciatic. I've had physio in the past but don't find that to be as good as the chiropractor.

To Blueeyes1963 - don't worry you're not the only one to "cry like a baby" I've done that and I'll bet lots of other sufferers have to - you're not alone.

To User559559- I agree childbirth pain is nothing like this pain - at least we had an idea of when that would end :).

Hope some of this helps some of you and if you try the ice pack or chiropractor you get some relief.

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PMA said on 09 June 2011

I have had chronic lower back pain & sciatic pain since 2002. An MRI in 2003 diagnosed 6 torn discs all with some degree of disc bulge, I have had pretty much all treatments from oral pain killers, NSAID,s TENs, Physio, acupuncture, osteopath, epidurals, facet joint and deep root nerve blocks. Consultation with Neuro surgeon no treatment other than pain control as too many damaged discs to offer successful outcomes with surgery. So all in all I have had a dreadful journey and years of broken sleep - I'm not sure if I have actually slept more than 2 -3 hours at most a night as I spend most of it up & down trying to relieve the pain in my leg, astonishingly my husband & I are still together I must drive him crazy as he gets the brunt of my frustration. I have found that the osteopath is great but costly and the Facet Joint & Deep Root Nerve Injections work best for me but I now require them more frequently ideally every 3 - 4 months but can only have them 6 - 12 months due to the waiting list I can't pay privately. Some how I have managed to work full time in a demanding role which I think has kept me going and as long as I keep positive I can cope. But I do have off days when I feel down & very sorry for myself

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simon5514 said on 07 June 2011

Hi blueeyes 1963. two weeks ago i had exactly the same problem as you,i hurt my back at work which left my leg quite sore aswell.Just as i thought i was getting better i suddenly woke in the night in extreem pain from my leg,i would of called an ambulance it was that bad but i could not reach my phone so i had to stick it out.The next day my leg was numb from the knee down and although i was in no pain laid down as soon as i stood up the numbness turned to pain and burning until i laid back down again. I have been like this for two weeks now with some,although not much improvement.My GP has given me pain killers and Diclofenac but it just isn`t working. I also have the pain in my buttock. Are you ok now or are you having the same problem?

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blueeyes1963 said on 01 June 2011

Hi everyone,

I had a fall a few weeks ago which ended up with me in a&e at my local hospital. I was told I had a back spasm and sent home with painkillers.However,just a few days later I woke up during the night in the most excruitiating pain I could not move in my bed and was in agony down my left buttock straight down to my toes.My partner tried to get me out of bed but I screamed the place down.He foned an ambulance they arrived and gave me gas and air to get me out the bed god did I cry like a baby lol.I got to hospital and was put on morphine thank god,Next night I was sent home with a cocktail of drugs which seemed to help.I now have a numbness from my knee down my left leg into my toes.Today my leg gave way and I fell 2 times in 2 mins. Throughout the day my leg just kept giving way.I have an appointment to see the consultant this month but tomorrow I am going back to my gp I am getting really worried. Can anyone recommend anything else that I can try to ease my pain as I am constantly up and down of the sofa as the pain in my buttock is so sore also.

Thanks

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User559559 said on 29 May 2011

I became a sciatica sufferer just 3 days ago ...I have been involved with and cared for back suffers all my life. As a nurse and a wife..I never realised the agony of the condition until 4 o'clock on Thursday morning. I turned in bed to experience the pain of a life time...I have given birth to twins but that pain leaves you with the joy of the children this pain seems like an animal that wants to eat you!

I am replying to to zozoellas comment about her loss of weight...Christmas 2009 I weighed 15 stone and because of other medical concerns lossed 3 and half stone rapidly whilst being monitored by doctors. Mine was a high protein one but felt amazing... I wonder if my symptoms of sciatica could be connected to this?

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zozozela said on 28 February 2011

I have been told today I have disc herniation at L5 S1. I speak with my consultant in a couple of days to discuss treatment options - I am placing a lot of hope on this appt and I am hoping it is not misplaced. I have been in severe sciatic pain since October 10 and now have large patches on my affected leg that are totally numb and I can only stand for about 4 minutes before I am in agony - this is whilst on bucket loads of NSAID's and morphine and gabapentin and paracetamol. I want this to end so I can get back to work.
Question - I lost 6 stone last year quite quickly using a very low calorie diet. This immediately preceded the start of my sciatic pain. A couple of people have said that my sciatic pain could be related to this as they know a friend of a friend who this happened to as well. Has anyone else come across this?

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Maggie Gray said on 23 November 2010

I have suffered with long term sciatica for many years and was recommended a chiropractic. I had a years treatment which was very costly, but, I had the best pain free year of my latter years I felt so much better in myself and was off paracetamol totally. The problem is that I could not afford the treatment to continue, I had paid for a year up front from savings, and within 6 months of stopping I am back to the same sciatic pain. So yes it works but only so long as you continue treatment.

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