Sciatica - Calf weakness but not much pain anymore

Posted , 12 users are following.

Hi all, I hope this finds somebody!

Bit about me - I'm 21, (was) fairly active and in shape.

So, a couple of weeks back I went to a physio regarding my sciatica-like pain where I was told that I had slipped disc in my lower back. At this point I was in a fair amount of pain. 3 months prior to this I had injured my back whilst deadlifting and it had been getting better gradually over time, until I was very silly and kicked my bad leg up (to just over 90 degrees) and I felt my back go. The pain then started to get gradually worse instead. It was especially bad when standing up after sitting down for 30 minutes or so, and would disappear after I walked for a bit.

Once I started physio I felt an initial improvement. I felt that the exercises loosened me up and my pain was very managable. However, about a week a go I woke up with a very tight calf muscle. I thought nothing of it for a couple of days, until I started to notice that I was struggling to walk at my normal speed. I then noticed that I was no longer able to bring myself up onto the ball of my left foot without something to help me up, which was very worrying. Naturally, I began to look up my symptoms online and found an array of worrying posts about nerve damage - stuff like "will I get my strength back in my calf after sciatica?" followed by loads of bad experiences from other people (which I expect may happen on this post!). So, I saw a doctor the following day (4 days ago), who told me I had sciatica, suggested physio, which I said I had already tried - albeit for 2 weeks so far. So, instead she refered me to the spinal department at my local hospital. She said it could be up to 2 weeks until I hear from them, and possibly 4 weeks until I get to see anybody. She didn't seem to treat my case with much urgency, although, to me, losing strength in my muscle so quickly felt pretty terrifying.

So, my current situation is:

- Not too much unavoidable pain. I take some ibuprofen at the start of the day, which does me alright. It hurts to do any hamstring stretches on my left leg.

- My pain starts off bad at the beginning of the day - I move pretty slowly as I feel very tight. I often have a sharp burning pain at the top of my buttock and pain around the outer top of my left calf.

- And then, the most worrying thing is my calf weakness. It seemed to get worse very quickly for 2 days and now has stabilised (I think) for the last 4 days. As mentioned I can't push up onto the ball of my left foot. I also can't run/jog as when I spring onto my left foot it doesn't take the impact very well. I can walk (I walked my dog for 30 minutes today) but my left calf constantly feels as though I have just finished running a marathon - it is tight and weak.

I wanted to post on here first of all to just spew my thoughts and experience somewhere and give myself some clarity of what's been happening. But I'm also looking to see if anyone else has had a experience with sciatica that matches my own or if anyone has any advice. I could do with some help with knowing what to expect. My biggest fear at the moment is that my calf will gradually get worse and worse. At the moment, it all feels just about managable and I'm hoping that it is temporary!

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  • Posted

    To be clear, I'm not providing medical advice. I am however experiencing similar symptomology and have a background as a therapeutically trained yoga teacher.

    I have not solved this calf weakness/spasm thing which seems to be a leftover from a sciatic bout on the left side. As I understand it, there are two forms of sciatic symptomology - one that comes from impingement at the nerve root (L5-S1) in the lumbar spine and a second which stems from a very cranky piriformis muscle impinging the nerve as it makes it's way down the outer hip. The yoga therapy protocols are different so some assessment is necessary.

    I am working primarily on the muscle issue first as that's a bit easier to hack at than a structural issue in the spine - and why freak myself out or be negative and assume the worst. The two things I'm doing for release are sitting, crossing the affected leg over the other, and bouncing the knee up and down - a sort of ballistic stretch ... and lying down on my back with the affected leg crossed over, reaching through the opening in front of the pelvis, catching the other thigh/shin and drawing that leg to me while pushing the other away.

    Should I figure this out fully I'll certainly return here and provide more details. Again, my experience only and not medical advice.

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