T Nation

sciatic nerve

Hi, I was just talking with my buddy last night and he happened to bring up that he had back pain, due to a sciatic nerve being pinched. He told me it runs down into his legs even. As it is mainly genetic, he said there wasn’t anything that could be done, besides getting his back cracked for some temporary relief. Otherwise he is on painkillers most of the time. I was wondering if anyone knew anything else that could be done to help the condition? Thanks.

It is usually caused by a herniated disk rubbing on the nerve. A partial diskectomy will cure the problem as it did for me. Other people have had luck with massage, accupunture, epidural steroid shots and/or chiropracty. None of those worked in my case, however. Not having it corrected can cause damage to the nerve that controls the ability to flex the foot and can lead to “drop” foot. If your friend gets “pins and needles” in the outer half of his foot, it is time for corrective action as that nerve is being damaged.

I would think an ART practitioner could help him out. No one should be on a constant supply of painkillers.

Well, I am no expert on the subject, but I will share my experience with back/sciatic nerve pain and damage (and some background info) in case it might be relevant and helpful. My sophmore year of college, I had severe sciatic nerve and back pain . The damage I did was more a result of the cummulative demands I put on my body through sports and weightlifting. I often lifted too heavy, always wore a weight belt (which by the way, I am convinced is a horrible idea and very detrimental to strenghtening the lower back), and performed explosive movements along with plenty of deadlifts, squats, and powercleans. I also played basketball almost everyday (usually several hours). Anyway, I developed sometimes severe and always constant pain in my lower back and all the way down my right leg. I could barely sit through a one hour class and after class I would have to go home and lay on the floor on my back in my apartment until my back loosened up and felt like it “unlocked”. The pain was always there too. Serious sciatic nerve damage can be VERY debilitating and frustrating. Anyway, mine gradually got better. I began stretching constantly, really all day every day, sleeping on my back or side only, and laying on my back on the floor after every class (or anytime I had to sit in a chair for any period of time). I quit playing sports, running, and pretty much any explosive weightlifting movement or anything that appeared to aggravate the problem (such as lifting heavy). I also began doing stiff-legged deadlifts with a very light weight as well as some good mornings. I quit wearing a weight belt too. It took several months of focusing everything around strengthing my lower back and stretching, and it did get better. It probably took a full year for the sciatic pain to go away, but it did go away. Also, after about 2-3 months the pain had diminished enough to where I got back to playing b-ball, soccer, etc. albiet less often and paying more attention to lower back pain and stopping when it began to get tight. I don’t know if this will help any, but I believe the things that helped me most were not sitting for long periods, constant stretching, and spending a lot of time on my back on a flat hard surface. Hope this is useful or helpful in some way.

By the way, as I mentioned I am certainly no expert, but I didn’t know that sciatic nerve damage was mainly genetic. I always thought it was injury or overuse related. Also, I think constant use of painkillers is an absolutely horrible idea. I was in a lot of pain a lot of time, but I believe painkillers would have made the situation worse.

I’ve had 2 epidural injections to relieve the pain. Some people do really well with them, some don’t. I felt better for about a month from each one. I guess it depends on whether he has a disc problem or something else is causing it.

I’m just going by what he told me about it being genetic, I don’t know for sure. He said he’s been to some chiropracters and docs and they thought surgery was the only option. I agree about the painkillers though. I’d rather not see him on them all the time either. Thanks for the help, I’ll tell him and see what he thinks.

The cause of sciatica is not mainly genetic. In some instances the sciatic nerve can pass through the piriformis muscle and be more prone to entrapment. There are about twenty arteas were the nerve can be pinched, only one of is the disc. Find a qualified ART practitioner, and I’m sure you’ll get quick relief if it is not due to a total disc herniation.