OT: stuff about sciatica

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jul 11 09:52:02 EDT 2005

What follows is a Public Service Announcement, I think.

The reason I've been being a little disinclined to sit at this desk and tap
on the keys for the last couple of months has been *sciatica*.  If you
don't know what I'm talking about, be glad: it's a loathesome condition,
very painful, and the drugs prescribed by my doctor to ease it had
side-effects so nasty that I stopped taking them after three weeks.  I
*prefered* being unable to walk upstairs without screaming, to taking those
drugs: they really frightened me.  I was being told that the only
alternatives to the drugs were either to suffer, or to get an appointment
with a physio (which might take several months) or to get on a waiting-list
to have an operation (several months' or even years' wait), and I was
feeling absolutely desperate.

For those who do know they have sciatica or have had it and might get it
again, ie for those who've been to a doctor because they could not walk
without agonising pain or take weight on one or other leg or sit in a chair
or ... whatever ... and been diagnosed with sciatica, there's an incredibly
simple exercise I was given by a member of another list I'm on, which might
help against your sciatica too.

She'd had sciatica for several years before she happened to meet the right
chiropractor, who gave her this exercise to do.  In her case it's meant
that she hasn't had crippling pain from sciatica for more than a year now,
in my case it means that I have been free of pain for a week (which sounds
small beer if you have never been there, but honestly, it isn't any small
matter to *me*).  If you are able to bend over far enough to pick up a bit
of paper from a low table, this exercise is most unlikely to do you any
harm, and may do some good in alieviating the condition.

If your doctor is already treating you for sciatica obviously you ought to
consult her/him first about trying something outside the treatment you have
been prescribed, or you might want to do the exercise under supervision
when you next visit the surgery -- I didn't wait to try it, but I was
impatient to stop hurting! and I have the sort of GP who doesn't mind me
trying other treatments than his if his hasn't worked.  You might also
prefer to do it first with someone else beside you to steady you in case
you wobble...  though there is nothing to stop you from holding on to a
chairback, really.

In essence, all it amounts to is bending down as if to touch your toes.
The difference is that when touching your toes at school, you stand with
your legs together; to ease sciatica, you cross the leg that hurts behind
the other, and stand with your feet next to each other and pointing
forwards but with the left on the right and right on the left.  Then bend
from the waist slowly and gently, letting your arms flop.  Don't push on
down until it hurts, or bounce to touch your toes like they taught us at
school, just bend until you feel the muscles of your leg and buttock as
"stretched" a little.  My now-a-friend-for-life said you may need to do it
three or four times first off; I found that once was all it took.

If the pain starts again another day, do the exercise again.

And that's *all*.  It sounds too simple to be true, and I don't know why it
should work, but it has to be worth a try if you're hurting all down one
side and you know that what's making you hurt is sciatica.  It's a lot
quicker than getting an appointment with a GP or at a hospital or with a
physio: if it works for you, then you can do it the moment you feel a
sciatic twinge rather than having to suffer until you can get treatment
from somebody else.  So far it hasn't had any side-effects on me: my hair
isn't starting to fall out, I'm not getting a totally messed-up digestion,
I'm not having peculiar sleep patterns or inexplicable violent mood-swings
(that my family have noticed as being more than usual, anyway), I haven't
come out in a painful rash on my face and forearms, nor are small bruises
appearing all over my body in random patterns... so I prefer it to the
drugs!  And unlike the drugs, it's free.

Half-a-dozen people on the other list, where I posted something much the
same as what's above, have written to me telling me that it has worked for
them too -- one posted to the list because she was so delighted to be free
of pain for the first time in years! -- and nobody has written crossly
saying either it didn't work or it made things worse.  That's encouraged me
to post it here, because there may be a couple of people here who might
find it helpful, or a couple of people here who know someone who would, and
I can't think of any reason not to spread my incredible good fortune as
widely as possible.  I don't hold with people suffering *needlessly*, it
affronts me.


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