The Heartbreak of Sciatica

Aug 08

dreamstime_xs_10168281I hate sciatica.

It’s not just the pain. No likee pain.

And it’s not even the inconvenience, although I did have to cancel a lunch, a pedicure, and a date to go to the movies because sitting for any length of time is difficult.

The real reason I hate it so much is that it’s an “old” condition. As in, you never hear anyone of 20 complaining about sciatica. But  all my friends do. Sigh.

The first time I got it, 5 years ago, I was terrified to see my doctor. I was afraid he would send me to a specialist, as doctors these days are wont to do. But he didn’t. He poked and prodded, literally and figuratively, and told me I had sciatica and it would go away in 6 weeks or less.

Guess what: I had sciatica and it went away in 6 weeks. Or less. Who remembers?

That first time, it seemed to have been triggered by some twist or turn I took playing tennis. Apparently, what they say about sports is true: form is everything. But whatever I did or didn’t do on the court, I could truthfully say that I had injured my back playing tennis.

A sports injury!

How cool. I felt like a jock!

But this time . . .

I have absolutely no idea what set it off. I had gone to the gym, but I hadn’t pushed it. Let’s face it, I never push it. The words “No pain, no gain” have never crossed my lips. And never will.

But the nice nurse at AARP, an organization I am far too young to be associated with but nevertheless am, said that it might have been caused by lifting weights —even though I assured her that the heaviest dumb bell (interesting term) I use is all of 10 pounds. Still. It might have been the weights, right? So I could say it was a sports injury. . .


Another reason I hate sciatica is that it’s totally unclear what to do about it. You can try cold packs, especially at the onset, then switch to heating pads. Or not. You could alternate cold and hot. Or not.

You could do the back exercises you should have been doing all along —like the yoga cobra pose or the stretches your  physical therapist recommended as a preventative measure so you wouldn’t get it  again, but which you of course stopped doing as soon as the pain went away.

You could try a chiropractor. Which I go to anyway and believe it helps. Thanks, Dr. Bauer

You could try acupuncture, which I am skeptical of. Call me old-fashioned, but I am not anxious to have needles placed into my body, even though this treatment been around for thousands of years, and there is evidence that it can be effective. Maybe, if the sciatica doesn’t go away in 6 weeks. I’ll be desperate enough to let a person of the Asian—or an —persuasion come at me with sharp instruments, no matter how small. The needles, not the acupunturist.


dreamstime_xs_555894-1In the unlikely case you’ve never been afflicted yourself, you might want to hear the definition of sciatica according to the trusty dictionary on my I-Mac:

Pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often owing to degeneration of an intervertebral disk.”

Does that sound like a “young” condition to you?

What it sounds like is a pain in the ass.
It is. And I hate it.



Note: The illustration is not of the author —
that’s me in the logo at the top of the page.

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