Any advice please - Sciatica/Pro lapsed Disc?

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I am 43 years old and have 3 young children. I am also a Learning Support Assistant in a primary school. 13 weeks ago I was diagnosed with sciatica. Pain from right glute,  down leg into foot and pins and needles. I have seen Dr since and she last week diagnosed as having Pro lapsed disc and insisted signed off work for 8 days (Spoken to different one's twice on phone re update and changed tablets). I have a Consultant Surgeon appointment next week. What will he do at the initial apt?

?I am now on Zapain (x2 4 times a day) Naproxen x 1 twice a day, 3 x amitriptylene once a day and 1x diazepam 3 times a day. Night times and through night and upon waking are agony to the point of feeling sick and like I will pass out. During the day this is easing, but the leg pain is the worst and pins and needles.  I am most comfortable on the floor for sitting and sleeping. I am trying to remain mobile but standing pain starts after few mins and cant sit at table unless cushions under leg and then 10mins max.

?I do not normally take pills for anything and as an example I gave birth to all 3 children with no pain relief at all, so I thought I had a strong pain freshhold but obviously not as this pain is truly agonising!! I have privately seen Chiropractor and Osteopath and had accupuncture (this helped for about hour then eased off) and also ultra sound therapy.

?Last Time I was diagnosed with Sciatica was July last year and went within 2 weeks (This happened again in November and still going)

?Sorry gone on a bit but to give as much info as can, any advice really appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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  • Posted

    HI Charlotte

    A typical process will start with an MRI then a consult to discuss options. Some herniations can be put right with physio. More advanced ones require surgery.

    The level of pain is related to the severity of the herniation but sometimes a minor herniation in the wrong direction can really screw the nerve and you get tons of pain. If you need surgery then be assured that the success rates are good. You just need to allow plenty of time to recover. Pencil 6 weeks very minimal activity and then at least 3 months very gradually getting over it being careful with certain tasks.

    Have you any weakness in the leg? That is usually a sign to not hang around and go straight to surgery as the nerve damage takes longer to heal the longer the symptoms before the op.

    Look after yourself. Do keep walking but nothing that aggravates the pain, no lifting twisting or bending at the waist. Remember the drugs are covering up at least some of the nerve activity so be extra careful.


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    • Posted

      Thank you very much for your reply. Really helpful and informative.  

      ?The Dr said there is weakness in leg and foot. I have been referred to a private clinic under NHS, so I presume they will put me back on the NHS waiting list for any treatment which worries me as could be a while and still in so much pain and will have to return to work.

      ?Are there any other effective treatments before an operation, other than the above I have tried, before an operation?

      ?Thank you again.


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  • Posted

    They normally examine u, and a MRI if one hasn't been done , although u may have to push for that. Possible physo a spinal block or further meds ?

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  • Posted

    Hi again

    yes, steroids can help. I initially had a course of 80mg tapering to 20mg over 10 days of Prendnisone after my symptoms were initially suspected of being due to a disc herniation. My disc was actually ruptured and the gunk in the middle of the disc makes the nerve swell up very badly when it gets into contact so I had very bad inflammation as well as contact pressure on the nerve. I don't know why everyone does not get this off the bat. It allowed me to survive a 4 day business trip after my initial X-ray (pre MRI).

    there is an injection version of the same idea. It works quickly and has less side effects of systemic steroids. This can work as well, but it's only a sticking plaster to temporarily relieve pain and allow you to do physio. It will not fix a herniation.

    Re the MRI, don't take no for an answer. Make sure the surgeon understands that you are losing muscle strength and that you cannot function at all from the pain and that the pain killers aren't working and your stressed about you job etc etc. They will not consider surgery until you have had the MRI so that is the first step. If there is a long (i.e. Several weeks) waiting list, if you can put a few hundred pounds towards it, then I would invest in doing that privately to jump the queue. I am 8 months post op. Aside from some complications I caused myself after the op, my calf is still weak. I can walk fine and it is recovering but you don't want months of pressure on the nerve if you can help it. The recovery of nerve function is related to how long the nerve was under pressure and inflamed.

    My take on nerve blocks that they are only a last resort treatment. They don't treat the issue which is that the nerve is being mashed up by a misshapen disc. The nerve is behaving as it has to. A nerve block just tries to tell the nerve to shut up. That is a bad idea long term IMHO. Drugs are doing the same thing. Don't settle for that. 

    if the hernia is not bad not bad then physio can fix it though it takes months. Basically you work the disc back into a better position by strengthening and supporting the spine. But for severe herniation, you need surgery to remove the part of the disc that has come out of position. That does mean permanent loss of that tissue and it will never grow back. But its usually manageable in the long term. Most people get relief of nerve pain from the op. though having a skinny disc between 2 vertebrae does mean making allowances in how you live and committing to being a healthy weight and maintaining a strong core and abs to suppport your spine.

    i could go on.... 

    good luck with your consult. Maybe your GP will give you some prendnisone?


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  • Posted

    I have commented here before but have a large disc prolapse at L4. I could not walk or stand for more than 2 mins without pain and boy did it hurt. 2 Drs missed it that had this problem my hubby who is a Vet picked it up straight away. Had a MRI  but see a Pyshio and she thought I should have surgery. Well I won`t I started by walking round my dining room table and it hurt. I got a perching chair so I could cook used my mum`s walker with a seat bought a body pillow so I could sleep. Now 4 months on I can walk 3 miles use no painkillers as they do not work. When it hurts I use a tens machine and ice. I still get excruciating pain in my back and leg but can control it. The physio really has been the best thing for me I now do an hours stretching. and walk 3 miles and use a cross trainer half an hour a day. I take no pain killers or other drugs. I also drink loads of water as being dehydriated is not your friend.This has worked for me at my worst I had like knife pain in my back could not stand for more than 5 mins pins and needles and numbness in my leg numb toes and pain under my big toe. I also feel it affects my thumb and wrist. May I add I am 60.
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    • Posted

      Hi morning 74, I'm the same as you, large disc prolapse but at l5, s1. Im 44 years old, i Suffered for a year with no sleep, a lot of pain, pins and needles, couldnt stand for a whole week at one point etc etc. and like you charlotte i was always laying on the living room floor, couldnt sit on the sofas. Surgery kept getting mentioned which I really dont want to have. But through stretches I have also got a lot better, only do a couple that I feel comfortable with and these take about 10 mins as some make it worse and these have helped me so much, i did have muscle weakness in my leg where I couldn't push myself up on my toes and I walked with a limp for a while but this has now gone back to normal and I can walk fine again, just have slight numbness in certain parts of my leg and foot, and back and sciatic pains come and go every now and again but can live with that, just keep doing my stretches and this seems to work fine for me, fingers crossed, also do not need painkillers anymore. Cushions when sitting and sleeping help alot and no bending or lifting anything heavy, but just wanted to give another positive story that although things seem really bad and scary at the moment you can and will get better 😊

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    • Posted


      Ostepath gave me one stretch to do. Not seeing her now until after Thursday. Hopefully when see Consultant on Thurs he will give me more before any treatment. Hearing re no painkillers is so great to hear. I dont normally take so taking so many worries me. Thank you for the positives.

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