Sciatica pain is some of the worst pain that is possible in my opinion. I’ve never given birth to a child or anything but I have seen what sciatica can do to both men and women and it ain’t pretty.
Yes, I realize that I used bad grammar but it’s not pretty. I’ve seen both men and women who had sciatica nerve pain cry painful tears of agony. I’ve seen people be on the floor because they can’t stand up.
Some people may think, “How could one pinched nerve in my back cause so much pain in my buttock or leg?” I’m here to tell you that it can and it does.
What Causes Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is a bundle of nerves that comes out of the low back. Mainly, the L3, L4, and L5 nerve roots come out of the last 3 levels of the spine and make up most of the nerves that go into the legs.
When one of those nerves is pinched, it can cause severe pain and loss of function of either one or both of the legs. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to a cavity in a tooth.
Everyone knows how painful it can be to have a cavity. Just the least bit of pressure can cause intense pain. Hot or cold water, a soft piece of lettuce and sometimes even air can send signals of pain to the brain when there is an exposed nerve in a tooth.
However, the sciatic nerve is made up of multiple nerve roots coming off of the spinal cord and is a huge nerve. When it is pinched, it can cause pain that is off of the charts.
This subject is close for me because I had horrible sciatica in August of 2017. I was working out in a “boot camp” class in Little Rock, Arkansas. We were doing what is called hacky sack push-ups.
When my left hand touched my right foot, I had an electrical sensation shoot through my right low back. I yelled “ow” and didn’t do any more of those exercises. Things didn’t feel completely right but I didn’t have excruciating pain following that moment.
A few days later, I played tennis with my brother. I am an avid tennis player and really enjoy the competition. I tell people that tennis is like playing chess but you run, breathe and sweat.
It is so much more complex than people realize. Tennis has strategy, different spins that you put on the ball in different situations, different types of serve techniques, net play, baseline techniques, footwork, etc… I could go on and on.
To get to a high level takes a lot of work, time and persistence. It’s something that I find very challenging and I always look forward to competing against good players.
During the first set against my brother, I went to hit a forehand. I felt the same electrical sensation but even more intense. It was hardcore pain but what surprised me even more was that my right leg just gave out.
How does Sciatica cause Weakness in the Legs?
My leg wouldn’t hold me up. I realized that I was going down! I really like my racket. It is a Wilson Blade 98. It is black and has fluorescent green Solinco strings. I take care of it, but when I was falling, I didn’t have a choice. It was me or the racket so I let go of the racket so I could catch myself as I fell to the hard concrete.
In the following days, my buttock started hurting. Next my hamstring began feeling tight and my calf started hurting as well. I was in a full blown episode of what is called “sciatica” or sciatic nerve radiculopathy.
I began doing treatments in my clinic to hydrate my L5 disc space in my low back. It has been my experience in working with thousands of patients that buttock, hip, hamstring, and calf pain tends to lean towards nerve impingement of the L5-S1 nerve in the low back.
My pain did not get better right away. Years before, I had treated myself for left hip pain. I didn’t know that I had a problem in my low back because my back didn’t hurt at that time. I only had hip pain. However, I got on one of my low back machines one afternoon and didn’t have hip pain for the next 3 days.
I couldn’t believe it because my pain was so specific for my left hip. I had even been diagnosed with bursitis by a leading specialist. Guess what, it wasn’t my hip at all. It was my low back. I continued through my protocol and my hip pain has been gone for years now.
Where is Sciatica Pain?
This was different though. This pain wasn’t in my hip. I had low back, buttock, hamstring and calf pain and my leg was weak. This was classic sciatic nerve pain, sciatica, sciatic radiculopathy.
Sciatica can go by many names but it was my sciatic nerve pure and simple. Also, the pain didn’t get better right away with treatments.
My sciatica gradually improved over 4 weeks of treatment in my clinic. I will also say that my pain was not 100% completely gone when my treatment protocol was finished. My pain was much improved but there was still some pain.
I remember lying in bed and feeling pain in my left leg or in my back. I was having pain that I hadn’t felt before in places that I didn’t have pain in at the beginning. It was frustrating and I admit that it was depressing.
I couldn’t play tennis the way that I like to play. I’m fast, quick and agile. I can get balls back that other players can’t.
During that time though, I couldn’t. I was slow and in pain. I couldn’t do much and balls were going by that I couldn’t get to. It was so frustrating.
Even though I am a leader in the profession of helping people recover from serious, chronic, debilitating, and severe low back and leg pain, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to help myself get better.
I knew I was getting better but the random pains along the way were concerning for me. My patients tell me that they go through the same thing but I hadn’t ever gone through it myself.
Remember, my hip pain went away fast even though I had dealt with it for about 7 months. I kind of expected my sciatica to do the same, but it took longer.
How Long does it take to Get Rid of Sciatica?
When I finished my program, my back pain was much better. During the 2-3 weeks after my program was complete, my leg was hurting much less. By the end of the month after my treatments, my pain was completely gone but I still had calf cramps.
My calves felt like they had golf ball knots in them. They just wouldn’t let go. It took about another 2 weeks and the knots just went away. I was so happy.
I remember calling my Dad on the way home from a tennis match. I told him, “Dad, do you know how good it feels to be me again?”
I was quick again. I was fast. I could get to the balls that were going by me when I was hurting and it felt GOOD! I could run and jump and it made me so happy to just be able to enjoy no limitations.
I realize that most of my patients are older than me and their goals aren’t to be able to play tennis. But, their goals are to be able to walk to the mailbox, go to church, play with their grandkids, and travel, etc…
I understand that very well. I didn’t want to go through that pain, but in hindsight, I’m glad that I did because it helped me understand what my patients are going through and helped me have a lot of compassion and empathy towards their situation.
I know what it means to get it back. By the way, I won 2nd place in the 2018 TreDay.com Labor Day tennis tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Health is Happiness,
Dr. Keith Currie