Leg Pain / Sciatica / Disc Problems - Running

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Hi all

I’m looking for some advice or encouraging words from anyone that has suffered from long-term sciatic nerve pain.

 

I’m 41 and have been running for the past 2 years (late starter after giving up smoking and boozing!). I slowly increased my weekly mileage and did a couple of half marathons. All was great. Then in January this year I noticed pain in the back of my thigh. It would get progressively worse when running and remain sore for a day or 2 afterwards. Over time, the pain spread to the outside of my knee, into my calf and eventually into the sole of my foot.

I saw a physio, who thought it was a tight piriformis muscle aggravating my sciatic nerve. They prescribed piriformis / glute stretching, foam rolling and nerve glides / flossing. I did these as prescribed for 2 months but there was no improvement. By this point I’d stopped running altogether as the pain, especially in the back of my thigh, was too intense.

After seeing an osteopath and another physio and trying various combinations of stretching, strengthening of my hips and glutes and nerve flossing, all with no success I paid to see one of the leading sports doctors in my city. They reckon the problem is actually a bulging / herniated disc between my L5  / S1 vertebrae which is pressing on my sciatic nerve and therefore causing the leg pain. There is no pain in my back at all, it’s all in my leg.

They’ve referred me for an MRI, but this could take weeks. In the meantime they’ve suggested I keep active and continue nerve glides / flossing. I’ve tried pool running, swimming (without using my legs), cycling, rowing and the cross-trainer but all of these things aggravate my nerve and cause pain either during or after the workout.

So, currently I can’t do any exercise at all, which is driving me mental, I’m really missing running and I’m starting to feel pretty despondent and like my injury might never get better.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

Thanks

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hey, I had my sciatic nerve adhered to muscle in my hip. It was excruciating (and may now have it again if my symptoms get worse). I had to have surgery to unthether it and developed nerve damage. (Terrible nerve pain). If I need surgery again in time (if I get worse) the risks go up. I'd advise you don't exercise, just gentle stretching in the mean time and use heat and ice packs to settle muscle spasms and inflammation. The surgery (micro dicseceotmy or discectomy) for example has a good success rate but don't over do it while your waiting for the MRI and solution. Take care Melissa

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply. Can I ask how it was discovered that your nerve was adhered to a muscle in your hip? Was that via an MRI?
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    • Posted

      Hi. I'd had a incident and had a previous steroid injection into my buttock diagnosed on a pelvic MRI when the spine MRI showed nothing. The surgeon decided that when my symptoms returned much worse he would operate instead of inject a steroid again. Unfortunately it turns out it was tethered to muscle in my hip which is unusual but he operated based my symptoms, not really the MRI. To be honest it was beyond excruciating but to reassure you, my situation was unusual. In answer to your question re heat and ice packs, yes put it on the source of your pain (lower back) which should help to relax the muscles connected to your nerve and down your leg. The pain you have is referred pain (assuming the problem is a disc bulging) which is down your leg IE following the path of the sciatic nerve. I know how you feel (literally). Do you have pain killers? Anti-inflammatories and nerve pain medications are usually best, opioids such as codeine aren't bad but usually don't help nerve pain as well (that's what I found anyway). Valium can be good to help relax spasming muscles. Magnesium supplements are great to help muscles relax too.

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  • Posted

    Mine pain started 2 years ago but is in a quiet state. I do some exercise but not to irritate the back. It's discs pressing on the nerve. Use ice pal or heat pad to which gives relief. It usually will go away but meantime try ibuprofen tabs to decrease inflammatory cause. Don't do high impact exercise. Soak in Epsom salts and some deep breathing to get oxygen into the blood.

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    • Posted

      Thanks. I've not tried ice or heat. Directly on my back, even though that's not where the pain is?

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  • Posted

    Hi 

    Don't give up and easier said than done stay positive.  If you manage things carefully it will settle down and improve.  Look at simple things like how you sit and how you stand.

     I Know that you run and are missing this but walking could be a substitute for the moment.  Until you get your MRI and the results care is needed to avoid doing further damage.  Look at strengthening your core abdominal muscles which in turn should help your back which in turn should help your leg.

     I Have suffered for over a year and I have good days and bad and it really sometimes not easy to see an end but by being careful and going steady you might avoid further problems.

    the more you worry the worse the symptoms may become.  Go easy and best of luck.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your kind words. Patience is required but mine ran out about 3 months ago! Hoping the MRI will help move things forward. Walking is ok for short distances but my leg flares up if I walk too far.
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  • Posted

    Hi YLT, I suffered with sciatica for years,then I found an excercise that put a massive stop to the pain.Just lay top half of body on bench ,table, freezer or anything that is waist or hip high,you might want to use a pillow,with legs vertical start raising them up level with body then down, repeat about ten times to start and increase gradually until you are up to round thirty,this strengthens the lower back muscles.. pain disappears.

     Cheers                

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  • Posted

    Had sciatica now in both legs with varying degrees of pain. It's horrible but I like you won't stop exercising. Just nothing high impact. I do pilates . And Tai chi. Walking and a bit of swimming. I had mri scan and they won't operate. I've tried ice. Heat physio. . Acupuncture ect . Won't go away. Some days are better than others. I've hurt my right hip now is flaring up. So sympathise with you. Gentle pilates I find very helpful .done this for a year now and things remain the same. Least I can move.

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  • Posted

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  • Posted

    Hi ,apparently there were conversations that were deleted by a nitwit called a "moder" they do not have any reason for their silliness, just sheer spite and nastiness.I did read your Q.and can totally relate,my pain is also driving me crazy ,I walk six ks. every morning and lately I end up hobbling home.I might trust a local medic with a few Qs. I do not expect a sensible answer however.

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