'How I cope with back pain'

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Living with sciatica

Living with back pain

About five years ago, I noticed a tingling feeling down my right leg but thought it was just pins and needles. Then one day, I noticed I'd lost all the strength in the big toe on my right foot. I didn't know it then, but that's a classic sign of a prolapsed disc in your spine.
The pain gradually got worse. It felt like a bone was jabbing into my right buttock, and I got back pain, too. But I still managed get around.

Eventually, in July 2005, I had my first operation; a discectomy where doctors removed part of the disc that was hurting me. I was told there was a 95% chance the leg pain would go away, and I'm sure it does work for some people. But unfortunately, it didn't really work for me. Neither did another operation to remove more of the disc.

Over time, I've worked out how to manage the pain. I'm a big believer in physiotherapy, and have as much of that as possible. I take painkillers three times a day, and wear special insoles in my shoes called orthotics. These help my posture realign itself. I also do pilates, and find swimming brilliant.

Sciatica can be extremely painful, and one thing I wish I'd done earlier is get some counselling. The BackCare charity has a helpline, and I'd advise anyone with sciatica to get in touch with them.
Denise Gwatkin, 53, New Malden, Surrey

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Last week was National Back Pain awareness week and it made me realise how many people suffer with back pain and how awful it must be. I've always thought that keeping the back moving without straining it is good for general back health. Yoga is a super way of stregthening the muscles and is so relaxing and beneficial to our emotional health. If you want to find out more then have a look on TLC

Dr sandra

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Dr sandra

get hold of pran yantra or tesla plates india n u would'nt ever worry about ur back pain or migraine, etc. It is a natural pain management system which every one needs but only a few know. I had been using these plates for the last 5 years


Dawn Turner, reading your comments is so weird it is exactly the same story as me I have been fobbed off for 4 years now with facet joint injections etc and not once was I offered an MRI. It wasnm't untill I took my partner along and practically begged for one that they finally did an MRI as it turns out I now need an operation, and everyones attitude ihas changed. oh they can't do enough for me now but it has made me loose faith in the NHS I phoned a private hospital out of curiosity, and unless I win the lottery, which I won't cos i'm on the sick and money is tight, will have to be on the NHS waiting list. It is soooo frustrating that because i am young ish people automatically assume your full of it and just want time off work. They haven't got a clue I feel about 100 years old and life is just an exsistance at the momment. it is nice however to be able to have a moan on here and for once people don't say 'oh you just have to get on with it everyone gets backache at some point' If only they could be me or any of us on here for just one day (not that I wish my pain on anyone) maybe they would give us a break. anyway thanks for letting me rant on it does help.


i have literally just been diagnosed with severe sciatica and i have just been signed off work for 2 weeks and am taking 21 pills a day for it with the anti-imflamitories & pain killers combined, they seem to be helping a lot but i spend most of my time sleeping because of them which is a problem being a single mum of 3, sure thier dad comes round and helps out but whats going to happen when i have to go back to work, i work at a service station which means i'm on my feet all day will this bring it all back again? will i have to take the same tablets again? if i do then that will mean more time off work, should i look for another job all together? i just don't know how to deal with this.......any suggestions?


i have suffered with back pain for years due to a horse rearing & landing on my stomach.just over 2 years ago i suddenly started gettig sciatica to the point where i couldnt walk very well, i am 52years i cant get a job,who is going to employ somebody like that, i know how to cope with it at home, I cant stand for to long,I cant sit for to long, I have had know money comming in & it is starting to cause problems with my husband, as he is earning the money.Do you think i could claim incapacity benefit.

Bryan Daigle

Denise, Your comments about sciatica are spot on. Studies have shown that most surgery patient return to their pre-surgery levels of pain after just six months. So why take the risk?? I personally lived with sciatica pain for 8 years before stumbling across the right mix of stretching, exercises, and nutrition that helped me return to the activities I love to do. We now offer our physical therapy program for active adults that suffer from piriformis syndrome and sciatica pain. Check out our site Pain in the Sciatica.

dawn turner

At the age of 23 I developed sciatica down my left leg and into my foot, the only investigation I had as to the cause was an xray which showed very little apart from a lack of disc space. I was given physiotherapy, didn't work; epidurals x 2, didn't work; cortisone injections, didn't work, I was made to wear a body cast for 1 month, didn't work; confined to bed for 1 month, didn't work, even given an internal by one doctor, what this was to prove I don't know? these treatments were all over a long period of time. When none of these treatments worked I was then pumped full of pain killers for 6 years. It was only as a result of having a private consultation with a doctor who found that I was losing the use of my left leg and consequently wrote to my GP that I eventually had a disectomy operation which has changed my life completely as it worked. I would like to say to anyone suffering - DO NOT BE FOBBED OFF BY NHS STAFF LIKE I WAS!!! At no time was I offered an MRI scan and feel that I should have been. The constant pain I suffered made me depressed. I could not sleep with the pain and therefore had to take sleeping tablets as well as all the pain killers. I was taking so many pain killers towards the end that I still have problems with my stomach as a result. But worse of all 6 years of my time with my young son, he was 2 when the pains started, were marred because of the pain I was constantly in. I am now only occasionally laid low by my back, I still have another disc which is prolapsed but does not cause me problems. I exercise regularly, nothing 'jerky' but sessions on cross trainers, pilates, walking, swimming etc, Keeping my body strongish and trying to keep my weight down, a constant battle! seems to help.


I have been suffering from chronic lower back pain for 9 years; the doctors are not sympathetic and make you feel as if it is your fault. A recent occurence which upset was when I went to the doctors about something else but having got there burst into tears as I was having a really bad back day. After she had dealt with my initial enquiry I asked if there was anything more she could do about my back-could I see a consultant? Her reply was 'You don't help yourself, you don't exercise-you should lose weight'. This annoyed me because I do exercise. I have a 40 minute walk/ light jog to work everyday. I said shall I come back after I lose some. She said 'yes'. she didn't bother to weigh me or give me a goal weight. Another recent incident which has upset me is when I finally got reffered to a pain clinic. The physiotherapist reffered me for a bone scan/xray (although, I thought I was going to get a MRI) and she said to make an appointment afterwards to discuss the results with the doctor then make an appointment to see them again. Well, went down the doctor ( a different one) they said it showed there is a 'lack of disc space height in the L5 S1 area'. when asked to elaborate she didn't really and said 'Its normal, there nothing we can do'. After this I phoned the pain clinic again and they said 'We'll ring you if(!)we can give you an appointment'. I have a very low opinion of doctors and the NHS now. As I have moved I need to change to a new practice but I am not looking forward to it as I have begun to dread seeing them. I don't think these doctors really realise just how it ruins the quality of your life. They seem to push the blame onto you. I don't know what I can do next. The back pain isn't too bad at the moment but when I have a bad episode I can be in tears daily and feel very tired with the pain-I feel I have no support


I suddenly started getting sciatic pain in my left leg in November 2008 when I was just 18. I hadn't done anything to provoke it so I went to the doctors straight away. So far I've had a blood test and an x-ray which has shown I have arthritis in my lower back and a congential problem where some bones are attatched when they aren't meant to be. I find it very difficult to cope and feel that nobody wants to help me. I have been to the doctors 3 times since to get stronger medication but I'm still in a lot of pain. I've been referred to a specialist and 3 months later I'm still waiting for an appointment. I'm at university and have had to have a lot of time off because I can't sit for more than about 3minutes, can't stand for even less time and can't walk without badly limping because of the pain. At first I found lying on my front the most comfortable position, however this is now barely relieving the pain. I find it difficult to sleep and if I do wake up in the night I have no chance of getting back to sleep again. I agree that unless you've suffered from sciatica and lower back pain you cannot fully understand the daily struggles we have to deal with. I can't wait to see the specialist so I can start physiotherapy on the nhs although I'm petrified I'll have to have an operation! Good luck to anyone suffering from back pain and sciatica.


Hi, my partner is 22 and has a prolapsed disc in his back. We have been to Lincoln hospital and they offered the injection or removing the disc. We went to a private specialist and he said his best option was just to remove part of the disc rather than the whole disc as it could cause worse problems, but the op with his would cost $8000 which we can afford! Please could you let me know what hospital you had your operation at so that we can see a specialist there, and hopefully have the op on the NHS. I would be so happy to find somewhere to get him sorted as he is sleeping all the time because of the pills he is on, and he is getting very depressed as he cannot play any sports or do anything. Thank you.

Beth Morton

Denise, You are not alone!! I have suffered with this for the past year. It is aweful. I am nearing the end now. I have also been wearing insoles from Morton's foot dot com and they have helped to realign my spine. I spent months at the chiro with no avail. I just hated the way they treated me. Like it was my fault or somethng because I was 50 and overweight. My biggest salvation was my relationship with God/Christ. He never left me and He didn't ask me stupid questions. I hope this note finds you at peace. Sincerely, Beth Morton Roseville, MN

shirley westwood

Approx 5 years ago I started off with lower back pain, then it travelled into my buttock and down my left leg into my foot - it was pure agony, I had to sleep on the floor on my stomach, I couldnt get in or out of the car it was a total nightmare especially when you have been used to being totally independant. I went to see an orthopaedic surgeon after suffering for around six months with various pain killers and physio - I paid privately in the end for the consultation and the MRI scan as the waiting list was around 12 weeks, but I was so desperate in the end I used our holiday savings as I wasnt able to go anywhere anyway! Luckily the surgeon who I saw got me on his NHS list as an emergency as I was found to have a prolapse disc in my lower back, and was given a discectomy within 6 weeks of seeing him. I recovered well, although not totally out of pain it was bearable without painkillers and I got on with my life, until 3 years after my op the pain came back with a veangance. I stuck it out for three months then started the ball rolling again to see a specialist - again I paid privately for the consultation and MRI scan because of the long waiting list - as things seem to move so slowly in this area of the NHS - I think unless you have suffered you do not realise how desperate people are to get back to some normality. My MRI scan showed another prolapsed disc worse than the last time, they offered me the spine block injection, but whilst I was waiting for the appointment to come through I started walking short distances increasing slowly every day. Whether it was just a coincidence or the walking my situation began to improve and I even cancelled the appointment for the injection, I now try to walk 5 days a week for around 4 miles and this seems to do the trick, dont get me wrong things are not perfect I do still get the odd twinge and have to be careful and remember to do my stretching excersises for the sciatic nerve but it seems to be the answer for me and I am keeping my fingers crossed as its now been almost 12 months since I had to see the specialist.

michelle teague

ive now been suffering with back pain for 6 months now after a long wait i had a mri scan which showed i had a prolapes disc im in total agony i talk tablets 3 times a day which just take the edge of the pain and after another long wait ive just had a root nerve ending injection well ended up with 2 not as painful as i thought it would be its been 3 weeks now and it feels my pain has actually got worse i cry with the pain day and night the pain keeps me awake at night. ive had phsyo but because i was i so much pain after the treatment they stopped after 4 sesions. im now waiting to see my consultant to find out what else they can offer me like janice johnson said i also wouldnt wish this on anyone

janice johnson

My back pain has been 6 years and my story and experience is not good. Keyhole surgey is a must for spinal patients and open back surgery can cause more problems with scar tissue than anything. If you have suffered chronic mechanical back problems you need to ensure before having an operation that you consultant has kept up to date with the best and latest treatments. Check how long he has been practising e.g if he has been around for 30 years does he know procedures such as artificial disc replacements,etc. Look at alphaklinik on internet for information on treatments. To be honest I have been encouraged to write a book on my experience to help others avoid the same pitfalls. I want to do this but need to feel better first. Sciatica is a nightmare and people do not understand it unless they have experienced it. I wouldn't wish it on anyone!

pamela reid

hi ive got very bad scartica in my legs and feet and now ive got sore hips i was really in pain with it made me cry it was that comes and goes but recently its been getting painful and the only soloution is taking paracetomal but they r not helping.anyone got any ideas i would not mind some more information from them thanks.

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