BPS #055 What Can Make Sciatica Worse

Today, we’re going to talk about what can make your sciatica pain worse? There are quite a few things that can make them worse. So as always, I’m going to give you a bit of a backstory here. I had this patient a year, year and a half back. We can call her Jenny. She’s 45 years old. She’s female and she’s had sciatica for the past six months. It’s just driving her crazy. Especially in the morning, she’d find it very, very irritating in the morning when she’s trying to rise out of bed. Especially getting dressed is just a big, big drag for her, before like the two to three hours in the beginning in the morning are the worse for her.

She’s just really, really irritated about the whole thing. She’s trying to take a few cold showers because she had that tip given to her. That’s helping some but still not quite a bit.

So internally, she’s very depressed. She feels anxiety and she’s telling me that that pain was just taking the pleasure out of everything. She didn’t feel pleasure or joy in anything. Jenny loves to swim and she was on the team when she was up in high school, and she’s been riding horses all of her life so she does that.

She’s out walking her dog, but still then when she’s trying to get out and do these things, walking the dog is going quite good, but whenever she’s up on the horse or doing horse-related work, or swimming especially the breaststroke, is really, really irritating her back and sciatica.

The sciatica just increases. That shoots out pain through her whole right leg. The foot is irritated. She has a burning sensation and it’s just horrible for her. Then she hit kind of a wall. She has a desk job in an office, and she had the employer to give one of these standing desks that she’s using, off and on, for like two and a half to three hours a day. That’s working great.

Then there were some crises at work that she needed to go in, and they had like three days when they worked like nine to ten hours a day. She couldn’t stand at the desk all the time because there were so many people in the office.

So after that, her sciatica pain really increased quite a bit. It was so bad that even like over-the-counter painkillers didn’t really work. She had like stronger stuff that her doctor had given her, but whenever she took that, she had a burning sensation in her stomach, and she also thought her head was kind of funny. She didn’t really want to take them at all.

So she was desperate now. She was trying to visit her chiropractor that she’s been visiting, had a relationship for many years. She also visited a physiotherapist. She went to an osteopath. She tried acupuncture, massage, and all kinds of stuff. Nothing really helped her at all. The pain was just there constantly, constantly, constantly, and also increased every time she tried to do something with her horse-riding or trying to be in the stables, whatever, and swimming was more or less not possible at the moment.

So the thing was that she had a friend that was going to get married so she went off to the big marriage thing, right, to the big wedding. What happened at the wedding was that she actually had like two or three days when she was there at her friend’s house and she couldn’t do her horse work or swimming or do the other exercises that she was doing at home.

She was just more or less relaxed, and she felt like the pain started to reduce quite a bit. She even wore high heels to the wedding of her friend, and that’s like a no-no, if you had a herniated disc or a slipped disc, or sciatica. Usually, when you’re using high heels, that increases the pain, but she pulled that off.

So she started to understand the connection between what she was doing at home and that she needed to switch that around. So when she came to me for the visit, she explained what had happened that her back was a bit better because she didn’t do the swimming or the horse-riding.

But the big conflict she had was that that was like the two things that brought her most joy in her life. From all of the stuff that she was doing in her life, that was like her vent. She could go out and work with her horse, go for a ride, and also go do the swimming.

So we had a chat about it and she understood before she came to be, but I more or less verified it to her. So I actually got her to rent out her horse for six months so the horse isn’t at home with her anymore for the next six months. Someone else is taking care of the horse, and that’s reduced the stress on her back and her sciatica quite a bit because sciatica gets worse quite a lot when you’re lifting and you’re moving and twisting.

Often, it’s like this jelly-like substance that get pressed on the nerve root, and the pain increases. So many times, when you’re twisting and turning and lifting, that increases the pain. So she doesn’t have the horse at home at all.

So first off, we tried to do some other – when she was in water, we tried to do like water aerobics and things, when she didn’t really need to irritate the back so much. So she’s doing some water aerobics right now, and that’s kind of working quite good.

She also has one of these Wet Vest that she puts on, and she can actually run or walk in the water and that’s working quite a bit. It’s not irritating her back too much. But she’s definitely not doing the breaststroke.

So the current routine that she’s on, she’s walking a half an hour in the morning, half an hour at lunch, half an hour at dinnertime with her dog. That’s the only thing that she’s really doing. She’s also doing some core exercises that I gave her, but all the other stuff we cut that out, and she’s definitely moving in the right direction.

So the transformation she’s gone through right now is that she’s reduced her pain in the lower back and the sciatica pain with about like 40-50%, and this will hopefully increase or get even more reduced in a few months’ time.

And the horse, she’s on me about the horse. When is she going to be able to ride and so forth? It’s like this. When you have something like that, if you have a very painful back or sciatica, I wouldn’t say that you should never think of doing it again, but the first step is to get better, you know, to be able to do your daily chores and go to work, take care of your family, and all of that without having like a lot of back pain.

Then when that level is reached, then you can increase the stress on your back and you can see. So maybe she can have her horse back, and maybe even ride. Who knows? But it’s a good lesson to think about, all you back pain sufferers out there. Take it gradually. Small steps, small steps.

To round everything up, what can make sciatica pain worse, your sciatica pain? It’s definitely when you’re lifting, twisting, turning, and doing movements that you don’t really control and specifically if you repeat them quite a bit. You’re repeating them day in and day out, and that can absolutely irritate your sciatica.

Guys, take care. I love you and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.