View Full Version : Sciatic Nerve Problems

Ron Nelson
10-01-2004, 02:42 PM
Time to call in the experts, and I know you're out there! My wife, who recently started some CF in her working out, has complained for the last year of pain radiating down her sciatic nerve down to her right foot. I have emplored her to seek medical advice (she is a nurse afterall) but she says they'll just tell her to relax, ice it, etc., and put her on meds of some type.
I also suggested seeing a chiropractor. I know some of you have experience in this area. So, I ask, would this help, or is she destined to suffer?
Also, does weight play a part in this? How about ab strength? I know my back used to hurt all the time when I was heavier and before CF and all the core training.
Anyway, useful input is appreciated including the proper spelling of sciatic!

Alexander Karatis
10-01-2004, 03:27 PM
Ron, I've had the problem whether I was lighter, weaker, heavier or stronger. Look at some of the other threads in this forum section for stretching techniques etc. Those helped me a lot.

David Werner
10-02-2004, 12:32 AM
Ron (and Wife)

Your wife is correct about the quality of medical help she will receive.

I have three ruptured discs, surgery, scar tissue from the surgery, degenerative disc disease, nerve damage in my right leg that includes several paralyzed muscles in the leg and part of my right foot that I can't feel. Going to the bathroom is not always a sure thing. The only relief I ever got was strength training. Ten years of listening to "experts" left me weak, debilitated by pain and miserable. This started to change with Kettlebell swings. Occasionaly other Crossfiters will disparage KBs but they really helped me.

After doing KBs for a while I discovered Crossfit and my quality of life has improved so much it's hard to adequately convey. Stretching, Ab strength, Glute and Ham strength, proper body mechanics, getting enough sleep, and diet all play a role in eliminating this sciatic (you had it right) demon, but none of that works without having a base of strength.

You have to understand also that your sore back and your wifes sciatic pain are not the same thing, the nerve involvement means that some structural damage has been done, a sore back is just a sore back. That said, my experience suggests that she is not destined to eternal suffering.

Dave Werner
Crossfit North

James Hall
10-02-2004, 05:16 AM
I have to agree with Dave in that returning to function is the key with any musculoskeletal problem. We (P.T.) medical people are the worst patients. I suffered a similar episode last December that knocked me out of work for 2 days (I couldn't stand or get out of bed). I thought I knew what to do. When I had a colleague evaluate me I had totally missed a key component. It took 5-6 months for the sciatic pain to totally resolve but had restarted CrossFit after 2-3 months and modified as needed. I still get a sore back everyday, but know what to do to keep it in check.
There is a method of evaluation and assessment whose focus is on patient empowerment to treat the problem themselves with return to function ASAP. Shoot me an email if you want more info.


Brian Hand
10-02-2004, 08:55 AM
Ron, your wife's sciatic pain could be caused by a number of things. The body in general, and the low back in general, are so complex it is almost always wrong to say "it can't be this or that". So yes, it is entirely possible that bodyweight can be a factor. Extra weight can disrupt the biomechanics of the lower spine and cause nerve pain elsewhere. It is entirely possible that a nerve can be involved without structural damage. It can be a simple misalignment that is impinging the nerve, often right where it branches out of the spinal column. This happens all the time, it's very common.

I am biased, but I think you're much better off seeing a good chiropractor than an orthopod for a problem like this. They are less likely to be dismissive as your wife fears. Still, there are plenty of lousy chiropractors around who treat every patient with the same three spinal adjustments.

If your wife isn't put through at least a twenty minute movement examination, whoever she is seeing, they have not been thorough, whether it is an orthopod or chiropractor or whatever. A few movement tests might identify the problem in no time and allow your to correct the root cause.

Now with that all said, I think its clear I think it's worth the effort to find a good doctor. Plan B for me is the shotgun approach. I just try everything that might help and see if it improves. Stretching the hips and hamstrings and strengthening the core will fix a lot of problems. This works okay as long as I can do the necessary corrective work pain free and without making the problem worse.

An interesting book that might shed some light is the Egoscue Method of Health through Motion. I don't know if I can see the whole method that is described, but interesting still.

Michael Keller
10-02-2004, 11:01 AM
It's possible that if it is caught early enough, a Chiropractor can help. The sciatic pain in her leg is probably coming from a disc problem in her low back. I have the same thing, but mine is beyond help from a Chiropractor. I've had mine for about 6 years now, but it is much better than now than it was then. My back is gradually becoming stronger and with encouragement from Dave and others, I have begin deadlifts to strengthen it. So far, so good. The muscles in my low back have been sore, but that's a good thing. It means I'm building up, which is an entirely different feeling than when my back gets tight and stiff from overuse. Whatever she does though, tell her to stay away from Vax-d. It's a rip off.

Ron Nelson
10-02-2004, 01:49 PM
Thanks for the great posts. I'm definitely encouraging her to work the core and strengthen the hips and legs for added stability. I'll have to get her into a chiropractor soon. She's been evaluated (at one of those free booths at a gym opening) and the chiro actually spent a fair amount of time evaluating her walk, the way she stood, sat, and strength. She'll probably see that one soon. The good news is that she's watching her diet again and trying to lose the excess pounds that could be contributing to the problem.
I have heard of Emil Egoscu through his work with Jack Nicklaus. I might try to find his book on Amazon and put it somewhere the wife will find it.
Brian, are you a D.C.?
Dave, thanks for the input on KB's. Brian actually suggested them to me in an e-mail for a different reason. I'll have to look into getting some small ones for her.
James, I'd love to see that info you mentioned. Please e-mail it to me @ nelson_r@auhsd.k12.ca.us as my Hotmail address tends to fill up with attachments.
Thanks again everyone!

Brian Hand
10-02-2004, 02:06 PM
I don't want to be an apologist for VAX-D at all, and indeed the way many doctors are using it is shameful. However, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The VAX-D just applies oscillating traction, which can be helpful. It is FDA approved.

There are doctors overcharging and overprescribing this therapy, but the same can be said for back surgery. I can certainly see how the unfortunate manner in which the product has been marketed would raise red flags and I definitely don't want anyone to get ripped off. But I think in the future it will be just another tool in the physical therapy toolkit and it would be unfortunate if someone dismissed a doctor as a quack just because a vax-d scammer left a bad taste in their mouth.

To put it in perspective I have unlimited free access to this treatment (not vax-d, but an equivalent piece of equipment) and I did it once. When my low back is a little tender I do reverse hypers on the physio ball for my oscillating traction. :-)

Ron Nelson
10-04-2004, 01:56 PM
Just looked up Egoscue's books on Amazon. All look reasonable and I'm leaning toward the one targeted to women for the wife. BTW, I was reminded his first name is Pete, not Emil. Don't know where I got that from! His clinic is in San Diego and was always advertised on the sports talk station that's where I heard of him!

Brian Hand
10-04-2004, 04:32 PM
Ron, BTW, I am not a chiropractor nor do I even play one on teevee. But some of my best friends are DCs. :-)

David Wood
10-04-2004, 07:40 PM
Ron: You might also consider any of several books on pain by Bonnie Prudden, for example:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0871319837/qid=1096943539/sr=1-1/r ef=sr_1_1/102-7802424-2188937?v=glance&s=books (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0871319837/qid=1096943539/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-7802424-2188937?v=glance&s=books)

Prudden is (maybe "was", by now . . . if she's still alive, she must be pushing 100) a real old-style teacher, almost a throwback. Her book on "Teenage Fitness", no matter how dated it might seem, contributed significantly to my dropping 30 pounds of fat and getting into modest shape all those many years ago . . . and the fitness she taught was a lot more complete than either the Runners World or M&F view of the universe. Her daughter, Suzy Prudden, also writes in the area, particularly kids' fitness.

In her 60's or 70's Bonnie got interested in trigger-point therapy, and wrote 3 or 4 books on the subject (they're all pretty similar). I used her approach to deal with my wife's sciatica (a pretty mild case) with great success.

Plus, if nothing else, it gives you an excuse to give her a massage, which can only be good.

Ron Nelson
10-05-2004, 11:26 AM
Here I thought you were famous or something!:proud:
I'll look up the books. I told the wife about the Egoscue methods,the Mackenzie information, and the like. She actually was interested. Usually she just says, "Where did you get that, off that website!?" So who knows?
As for the massage, just another reason to get my hands on her!!!! Just what she wants (hahahahah!):blush:

Ron Nelson
10-05-2004, 12:01 PM
Dave and Brian,
Just ordered the Prudden book along with an Egoscue book for women from Amazon. I'll let you both know how the books worked out (until the details get private, nudge nudge, wink wink!).

John Dryden
10-05-2004, 08:35 PM

I had terrible back pain and sciatica, but cured myself entirely after reading Dr. John Sarnos book on curing back pain naturally.
Forget Chiropractors and everything else; they obviously suck, or back pain would not be so prevalent.