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Treating chronic leg/back pain
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Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/19/2009 03:09:29 MDT Print View

I've been suffering with a sciatica type pain in my left leg for around 4 years. The intensity of the pain varies, but it never totally stops. It's at the almost unbearable stage right now, and affecting my whole life.

I've had numerous tests and scans and a nerve conduction study showed compression of the L5 nerve. The site of the compression can't be found, and scans show my spine to be in good health.

I'm currently having spinal steroid injections, but the effects are short lived. At the moment i'm taking some heavy duty painkillers, but they don't have much effect.
I've tried everything i can think of, including Osteopaths, chiropracters, and accupuncture.

Has anyone else had a similar problem, and managed to fix it?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/19/2009 08:12:26 MDT Print View

Do you regularly (meaning daily/twice daily) stretch?

I know someone that was dealing with what many doctors thought was sciatica/some sort of nerve compression. Same, nothing they told her to do worked. After committing to daily stretching routines (yoga based) she was able to get it under control.

Just a thought.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/19/2009 08:52:09 MDT Print View


I have been using dry needle treatment for around 6 weeks now, (1 hour each week) and have found this great in correcting some issue in the hip area. Perhaps speak to a specialist and see what they say about that.

Hope that you manage to get over it


Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/20/2009 07:24:21 MDT Print View

Thanks guys.
I'll look into your suggestions. I'm at the stage of discounting nothing.

Peter Gurin
(intheswim) - F
solution to all back/leg problems on 06/20/2009 08:30:37 MDT Print View

Check out this site and read his free articles.

Also go to the forums and read up on how others are doing with the exercises.

I've had some pretty bad sciatica for a few years now in my legs, and also painful back and neck problems. If i can get myself to do the exercises like i'm suppose to i feel great. If you keep it up eventually you won't have to do the exercises that often as long as you don't do something dumb like keeping bad posture for long periods of time.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Chronic leg/back pain on 06/20/2009 09:41:59 MDT Print View

Hey Mike I had a herniated disc last year.Between Lumbar 3 & 4. I got the epidural (Spinal Tap) and things have improved. I had two different doctors tell me to stretch more and do YOGA- which I do.. The more flexible your hamstrings are the less pressure on you lower back..I learned the hard way meaning I really never stretched before-- but know it is part of my daily routine... I stretch 1-2 times a day for at least 20 to 30 minutes...One can never stretch enough bottom line!!! I hope you feel better. Have a physical therepist put you through various stretches and body exercises-make notes and then do them every single day-REALLY!!!!!The older you get the more you need to stretch.... Good Luck!!!!!Things will improve..

Edited by Creachen on 06/20/2009 09:42:39 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/20/2009 10:46:22 MDT Print View

Thanks guys.
I'm interested in the stretching/hamstring angle.
I used to be a distance/ultra distance runner, and suffered numerous injuries over the years. The injury that stopped me running was a double hamstring tear. I believe the subsequent scarring left my left hamstring shortened/tight. This looks like an area i can work on.
Again, many thanks.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Leg/Back pain on 06/20/2009 12:01:55 MDT Print View

*I am not a medical doctor, nor can I render professional medical advice, though my work has dealt with individuals with low back issues*

While ESI's (Epidural Steroid Injections) and other physical therapy modalities can be helpful in many cases, for many people they do not offer significant or long term relief. An evaluation by a physiatrist (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) might be beneficial for a targeted physical therapy plan (with a qualified physical therapist) if you do not have one already. I think what was said above about building up leg/lower back musculature as much as possible is probably right on. Chiropractic can have good short term results but generally has not been shown to have as much success for long term neuropathic (nerve-related) pain, as much as they would tell you otherwise. I've seen some interesting studies about accupuncture for chronic pain, but these will not change the underlying pathology (nerve root impingement, if this is what it really is).

Sometimes surgery can be the most beneficial option if all conservative treatment has failed. The problem is that surgery is not a cure-all, and can sometimes offer little or no relief - it can be a gamble, but is worth considering getting an evaluation if your quality of life has significantly decreased. While I do not know what the medical system in Scotland is like, if you were in the US, I would say find the most qualified orthopedic spine or neurosurgeon that mostly performs low back surgeries, at your area's largest teaching and research hospital. Get two or more opinions before proceeding with surgery - sometimes surgery is not appropriate but there is always a surgeon willing to cut ($$). Sometimes the latest and greatest procedures in this field (some of the newer artificial disc replacements) do not have long term studies to prove their efficacy and can be less successful than procedures that have a track record. Chronic pain docs that do surgery (i.e. percutaneous disc nucleoplasty, laser this and that, etc.) are not worth your time.

Edited by ChrisMorgan on 06/20/2009 12:14:29 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/20/2009 12:25:26 MDT Print View

Thanks Chris.
A surgical procedure isn't an option. I would go for any procedure that might help. As i said, my X-rays, MRI scans etc, all came back clear. I was attending an orthopaedic surgeon, and he couldn't find anything to operate on. I'm now attending a Pain Management Clinic, which seems to be a waste of time at the moment.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/20/2009 17:02:31 MDT Print View

Hi Mike

Did you have chicken pox when you were young? This can lead to shingles at a later age. It may not be relevant of course.


Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Pain on 06/20/2009 19:53:52 MDT Print View

Very sorry to hear this. I would definitely investigate a stretching based method. I have found general stretching the most effective treatment for my own back pain. Two specific techniques you may want to look at are.

An interesting book on pain management is

Edited by jephoto on 06/20/2009 19:54:30 MDT.

John Z
(Feather) - MLife
Re: Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/20/2009 23:15:46 MDT Print View


A couple things to consider.

1). You stated, " I believe the subsequent scarring left my left hamstring shortened/tight." Deep muscle massage might be helpful in breaking up some of that scare tissue. If you decide to go this route, be sure to find an excellent massage therapist, get recommendations. Also, be prepared for the massage to hurt. It will likely take multiple sessions, over time.

2). If you haven't already, consider looking into piriformis syndrome. Symptoms can be similar to sciatica, however the cause is different. Related websites:

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Treating chronic leg/back pain on 06/22/2009 07:21:05 MDT Print View

Loads of good stuff for me to look through here, and by PM.
Thanks folks.

Fabio Mati
(Fabio) - F
magnetiv field on 12/15/2011 08:53:03 MST Print View

Well,have you ever heard about magnetotherapy?
It is modern method to cope with this problem.Many people nowadays have already used it.

There lots of articles and advertisements,but i recommend you to look through the next topic( it is quite simple and there you can learn more about therapy,magnetic pulses,advantages.We need learn as much as we can about all treatments and pick best one
I hope this information will help somebody
Thank you

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re : Treating chronic leg/back pain on 12/15/2011 10:10:32 MST Print View

My mother basically has your problem though it seems not as severe. It gets "fixed" in my moms case by stretching, stretching, massage. Tight muscles/tendons in lower legs/buttocks/back effect your posture or even how you are sitting, applying pressure into ones lower back deforming the spine and "pinching" said nerve. According to said doc its fairly common though varies widely in intensity. Aren't you the lucky guy! Sorry.

Course I could be misremembering the exact term of her affliction compared to yours.

I get severe migraines. I never got them then I suddenly started getting them all the time every time I carried a pack until about 1 week into a trip at which point my muscles hardened and I was fine. I "fixed" this problem or limited it by getting a McHale backpack which does not push DOWN pressure on my shoulders and my neck injury from a trampoline where I landed on my head as an idiot 19 year old trying to show off to the girls... Oh wait, not supposed to admit to that. OOOPS!

Edited by footeab on 12/15/2011 10:14:13 MST.

Caleb Boyle
re on 12/16/2011 14:01:10 MST Print View

You need to try self-applied trigger point therapy (a good starting point would be Davies' Trigger Point Therapy Workbook). Also, find a well-recommended physical therapist who uses manual therapy, and who can address muscle/postural imbalances.

I have dealt with "carpal tunnel syndrome" (2 yrs) and plantar fasciitis (1yr) using these methods.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Treating chronic leg/back pain on 12/16/2011 14:25:36 MST Print View

My back flaired up when I was 30 and in response to the pain, I moved less and walked less. And it got worse.

Then there was a hike I really wanted to do (a few mile day hike), I did and I felt better. Ah-ha!

Over a few months, the more I walked, the better I felt. Now (age 50), if I get a hint of back pain (too much computer time, snow shoveling or lifting something badly), I stop that activity and I get in more walking miles. And that's avoided any recurrences for me. YMMV.

My theory is that we are not descended from sedentary people - they got eaten by saber-tooth cats. We're descended from people who moved around in search of food and sometimes had to pack and travel long distances.

Imaging backs is tricky. Oh, lots of ways to do it, but if you look at an old back, you see what looks like problems. But older people with and without any back pain have similarly alarming looking scans. (this from my MD wife).

I know anything offering relief is tempting, even surgery. And some back surgery helps, but not nearly with the efficacy of surgery of gallbladders, appendices or cancer. I'd exhaust all lifestyle and exercise options first. Keep a log of activity, non-activity and back pain. Look for patterns and do more of what helps.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Treating chronic leg/back pain on 12/17/2011 02:17:58 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 06/17/2015 16:37:39 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Update on 12/17/2011 02:30:13 MST Print View

I originally posted this a couple of years ago. My back problems are better, mainly due to a stretching routine. My work involves occasional heavy lifting, and a lot of bending and twisting. I'm now very mindful of my body position at work.

The downside is that one of the scans showed a tear in the laberal sheath of my left hip. I had surgery to repair that, and it didn't work out too well. It has left me with pain from damaged nerve endings, and i will have to live with chronic pain. It never rains but it pours! :)

At least the pain reminds me that i am walking.