6 Month Battle with Sciatica

I am 61 years old and have had lower back issues ever since a fall in 1999. I have bulging discs and pinched nerves in the lumbar region of my spine. I have been fortunate enough to avoid surgery and epidural injections. 

Last summer, I felt a pain in my upper left buttock. I never had pain in that area before. The pain was on and off throughout most of the summer but was tolerable. Then, on the morning of the 26th of September, the day I was to see Billy Joel, I woke up with a terrible pain in that same upper buttocks region. Fortunately, like many sufferers, the pain did not shoot down leg. It abated some during the day and was able to make it to the concert with some difficulty. But at that point I knew needed to see a doctor. 

I went to my orthopedic doctor and he prescribed 8 weeks of physical therapy. After completing that regimen, with only slight improvement, he recommended me to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon wanted to do a spinal fusion. That, of course, is a last resort measure and I felt I had other options. I went to another neurosurgeon, fortunately chief of the department. He looked at my films and said your lumbar spine is not that bad. He recommended continuation of physical therapy. Although the therapy place I went  to was not bad, I wanted to try somewhere new. Originally, the chief neurosurgeon wanted me to do therapy onsite, but I could not get an appointment for more than 3 weeks. Anyway, I found a place which was five minutes from my house. 

The exercises I did over the following two months involved strengthening the lower back muscles (you can easily do them at home) as well as stretching exercises with emphasis on the piriformis muscle. After two months, I noticed considerable improvement and today I am sciatica pain-free for 4 months. The back pain will be there, but I deal with it. 

I cannot stress enough the continuation of these exercises at home. If you have a a bike, that is good to use too, assuming your doctor approves it. Be careful of NSAIDs, especially if you are my age or older. I need not tell you the effects of long-term use. I only use them when absolutely necessary. Listen to your doctor for the best advice. I wish all of you the best and please do not give up, Paul


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