Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I’m like a lot of guys – or people of both genders, I guess. I’m subject to occasional lower back pain.

Sometimes it’s brought on by an event; like lifting and twisting, or jerking hard on the starter rope of a chain saw. Other times I just wake up, roll out of bed, and go to my knees in sudden pain.

Carol takes apparent pleasure in telling people about my “bad back.” For example, when the neighbors ask her why she does all the heavy lifting during a yard project she’ll tell them, “Oh, I don’t want John getting near these concrete blocks – he’ll throw his back out.”

Which could be true. And which I don’t mind, because she can seemingly lift several times her own (rather slight) weight and never have a twinge.

When I have these bouts, the pain is almost always centered in the same spot on my left side. This made one doctor think that maybe I had a bone problem rather than just muscle pain, but we never pursued that theory.

Anyway, what I have now is different from anything I’ve experienced before. It has all the classic symptoms of sciatica.

It began on Sunday at (you guessed it), the golf course. I had noticed a little soreness on my right side for several days, but nothing severe. We played golf on Saturday (scroll down for the picture!) with no problems. I walked all 18 holes.

But on Sunday, on the second tee, I took a swing and felt that “take your breath away” sharp pain that told me immediately, “Your golf is finished for today!”

The stabbing, pulsing nastiness was centered right about where they typically give you a shot in the buttocks. This was different from my normal back pain. I could bend just fine, but certain motions sent a searing flame down the back of my right thigh.

By Monday morning my thigh was aching and the soreness was descending into my calf. By Monday afternoon the whole right leg ached, and the sole of my foot was almost numb, but with that “pins and needles” tingling that signals either a loss of circulation or a nerve problem.

Classic sciatica.

The sciatic nerve extends from the lower spine all the way down the back of each leg. Any inflammation of that nerve causes exactly what I’m experiencing.

The internet tells me that this pain usually moderates and goes away within a few weeks. To maybe a year!

I’m counting on a lot less than that.


kenju said...

I've been there, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. A tip: when you sleep at night, place a pillow under your knees (on your back) and between your knees (on your side). This helps take the pressure off the lower back. Mr. kenju has been having a rought time of it lately with sciatica. Hope you get better soon.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Thanks, Kenju. I've been using that pillow trick for years. I typically sleep on my side, so "between the knees" works for me.

Karyn Lyndon said...

re: your blog post...yes, I remember you saying that. we haven't left him alone outside all winter for that very reason. On the first nice day we heated the pool and taught him how to get out at the steps. He seems to be a pretty good swimmer...

Designer Girl said...

Oh yes, do I know all about those lower back pains! Luckily for me I have not had any problems for a while as I have been very careful as to how I bend down. I hope the pain has subsided now - I find going to a physio for a deep tissue massage works wonders for me. That and taking painkillers, sleeping with a hotwater bottle and rubbing some wonderful pain relief cream into my back.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Dear Belle,
Your treatment methods sound wonderful. Now, if I could just talk Carol into giving me that deep tissue massage and rubbing the wonderful pain cream into my back . . .
Sa-a-ay, how would you like to come to the States and be my therapist?
But no, Carol might not approve. Thanks, anyway, for the sympathy!